The ancient town of Knossos is located about 5 kilometres south of Heraklion. I had already heard so much about this historical site since my early school days, so I absolutely wanted to go.
The Palace of Knossos is the largest Minoan palace in Crete and is part of the European Cultural Heritage. Over the years, Knossos has been repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt; the most recent reconstruction the palace being structurally unsafe. It was built around a rectangular central courtyard and consisted of 1-5 storey buildings. Now, there are about 800 rooms, but it is assumed that the original number was considerably higher.
You have to have an interest in excavation sites to enjoy them. In fact, it’s often only stones lying around and on interpretation boards, you learn that this particular stone used to be part of a wall of a house. That is admittedly a little exaggerated. But is it not the case that lots of excavation sites look too similar to each other for the layman’s eye? It is therefore recommended to take part in one of the tours through Knossos, which are also offered in German. You can also buy a ticket at the entrance and explore the palace grounds on your own.
I love strolling through the excavation sites, and I can spend hours immersing in the texts on the explanatory panels. Much to the chagrin of the rest of the family, who prefers to leave most of the panels unread.
Knossos has more to offer to the visitor than just “stones”. Visitors can walk alone or with a guide through the huge palace ruins. There are some paths, but there are also places where you can get very close to the old masonry. There are stairs and even parts of the old upper floors to be discovered. Some of the stairs can still be used. The colourful wall formations and the coloured columns are particularly beautiful. The colours have been reconstituted from original pigments. The famous dolphin fresco and the throne hall can be viewed in extra rooms. But you should take some time, the number of visitors is really big.
I was particularly impressed with the irrigation system. There were not only open water channels, also terracotta water pipes were used in Knossos. There was even a toilet with a water purge! The ventilation system of the rooms was also very advanced for the time. The results are similar to those achieved by today’s air-conditioning systems.
To me, the visit is a lasting memory and I can only recommend going there and experience Greek history on site. Some noteworthy points that came to mind during our visit are: The excavation site lies in the blazing sun. There are only a few shady spots. Since no beverages can be purchased on the premises, you should bring plenty of water. You should come as early as possible.
As the day goes on, tourist coaches arrive and visitor masses flow into the palace grounds. There is ample parking. Here, of course, you have to pay extra! The paths are made of sand or gravel, solid footwear has proven its worth.
Knossos Knossos Avenue,
daily 8:00 – 17:00