By Chrissa Krassa
Ancient Knossos on the beautiful Greek island of Crete was one of the most important cities of its time. The island has the unique distinction of having had a continuous human presence from the Neolithic age right up until today, peaking in importance as a cultural and trade center – with Knossos at its very heart – in the 5th century.
Built on the hill of Kefalas – according to ancient Greek tradition, this was the place where the famous King Minos lived – the city has long played an important role in Greek mythology. Remember the Minotaur? Half man and half bull, he was banished by King Minos to live in the Labyrinth, an extremely complex construction designed to isolate him (the Minotaur was later killed by the hero Theseus from Athens). This mythical creature is just one of many forever connected with ancient Knossos, and even today it adds a unique air of mystery to the historic site that impresses the visitor.
Little wonder, then, that Knossos is one of the most popular and most visited attractions on Crete. A visit to this important archaeological site today includes the Palace of Knossos. Developed around the impressive Central Courtyard, once the venue for the public gatherings, you’ll also see the important West Courtyard, from which one has official access to the palace. Other notable features include the Hall of the Throne, the Double Pelecs Hall, and the Queen’s Palace.
A Window into Life in Ancient Knossos
A visit to the archaeological site of Knossos offers a unique chance to explore one of the world’s best preserved ancient settlements. When you’re done (and expect to spend a few hours while here), you’ll leave with a pretty clear picture of how everyday life was in ancient times.
The site is open to visitors daily, and can be very crowded, so try to plan your visit accordingly. Like you, these enthusiastic travelers are here to learn more about the ancient history of Knossos and this beautiful Greek island.
Luxury Tip: It’s well worthwhile splurging on the services of a professional tour guide to help you get the best out of your visit. If you can, make these arrangements in advance of your visit.
To learn more, visit the museum’s website here.
Chrissa Krassa has been involved in the tourism sector since 2000 as the Director of the Philoxenia Tourism Exhibition. She is co-founder of Top Tourism, a non-profit company promoting Greek tourism and culture. She is also ambassador for Greece to the World Food Travel Association.