Knossos, the culture’s lair. The largest and brightest centre of Minoan civilization. Just 5 km away from the centre of Heraklion, it is a fascinating attraction. Rich in natural scenery, with peacocks walking freely around the space that make your experience unique.
I had the chance and the opportunity to visit the archaeological site of Knossos last summer and I was sincerely impressed. The truth is that because I went with my family, I didn’t have much time. My dad, grumpy and eager, wanted to leave early. My mom was enchanted by the space and her thoughts. My brother was in a rush to go swimming. And I, being like my mom, a friend and a lover of culture, needed much more time to savour the Minoan civilization.
Along with the walk in Knossos, we managed to visit the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. It is one of the most beautiful and informative museums I’ve ever visited, without getting tired of unnecessary information and words. Being so fascinated by this journey in time, I would like to share with you the following and give you some tips to enjoy the ride in the right way.
The first excavations in Knossos took place in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos, but excavations were later carried out by the Englishman Arthur Evans, that revealed the entire palace in 1931.
The residence of King Minos and the capital of his state. The peak of the city dates back to the Minoan period (2000 – 1350 BC), where it was the most basic and most populous centre of Crete.
The monuments of the archaeological site of Knossos are:
-The Palace of Knossos
-The Little Palace
-The Royal Villa
The House of the Frescoes
-The South Mansion
-The “Unexplored Mansion”
-The Guest House
-The Royal Temple – Tomb
The most impressive of the Minoan palaces is the Palace of Knossos, which was the centre of Knossos. It is divided into several sections, each of which was of distinct use. It is built on the hill of Kefalas and is easily accessible from the centre of the prefecture, but also from neighbouring beaches. Complex corridors and stairways form a labyrinth-like complex and give the visitor the chance to admire significant architectural innovations.
Tips & helpful info:
1. Get plenty of water! Take plenty of water with you, because the heat, especially in the summer, is unbearable. I speak from experience, I just went there with a camera in my hand. You do not want to know what followed. Water, lots of water.
2. Make sure you go early in the morning or in the afternoon to save the infinite queue and heat. (Opening Hours: Summer 08:00 – 20:00 & Winter 08:00 – 15:00 – tel: +30 2810 231940)
3. Take a hat and sunscreen with you. The site has a number of empty/uncovered spots and minimal shade. It’s essential if you want to be protected from a sunstroke, believe me.
4. Be your own guide. In order not to suffer in the sun, and to learn about the myths, just take your smartphone and headphones, download the Clio Muse App and browse Knossos with an alternative audio tour! You can listen, study and enjoy as much as you want at your own pace.
5. Access is easy and fast. Just 15 to 20 minutes from the centre of Heraklion and you have arrived! There are two ways to get there. By car or by bus, which is passing through the centre and is the No2: “Knossos”.
6. Extremely important for such a site is that there are several places that are accessible to people with disabilities.
7. Convenient shoes are your best option. There is a lot of dirt and stones, so sandals, for example, would not be a good choice.
8. Prices are affordable and apply to the archaeological site of Knossos and to the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
9. Rates: whole 15€, reduced 8€, children under 18 free of charge.
10. Visit the Archaeological Museum after your walk in Knossos. One space complements the other and you will have a more complete picture of the Minoan civilization.
11. (Opening Hours: 08:00 – 20:00 – tel: +30 2810 27900)
12. Organize your time properly so it won’t go by without you even knowing it. In the archaeological site, you will need about 2 hours, while in the museum about 3, depending of course on your madness.
13. Combine your visit with swimming at the nearby beaches. Gournes, Gouves and Kokkino Hani are some indicative suggestions, full of beauty.
14. Lastly, we would do everything in our power to not let you starve. Two nearby great choices to eat are Minotavros (tel: +30 2810 328720) and Russakis (tel: +30 2810 231918).
The Minoan routes combine myth, history, and tradition, showcasing the Minoan life in the best way. It is incredible that you have the opportunity to live and to see up close with your own eyes everything you hear and read for so many years.
So let the Prince of Lillies and the historic dolphins take you back thousands of years.
And if you see a mad woman with red hair and a camera in her hand capturing the smallest detail, it will be me. See you there!