Today I am in the harbor in Heraklion. We’re going to head to Knossos where we’ll see the remains of the once-mighty Minoan Palace and then head back into town to visit the Archaeological Museum. Let’s explore the antiquities of Crete.
The Palace of King Knossos was once the religious and administrative center of the Minoan world.
For centuries, however, Knossos was considered only a city of myth and legend. No one could find its exact location.
Dating from the Bronze Age, Knossos was rediscovered in 1878. Excavations would not begin here, however, until more than two decades later when English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans and his team began to unveil the mysteries of Crete’s largest archaeological site.
By 1903 most of the palace was excavated, though Evans worked here for more than three decades. His reconstruction is partly fabricated. For example, he had rooms repainted to the best of his imagination, including the Throne room, which was done by two Swiss artists. It is said that some of the frescoes may have been inventions of the artists rather than based on historical facts.
One of the main features of the palace was the labyrinth, which was built to confine the fabled Minotaur, a frightful creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man.
Legend holds it that the Minotaur was born out of the unnatural union between the queen of Knossos and a god in the form of a bull. The creature could have been inspired by the Minoan sport of bull-jumping, where the male athlete vaults over the bull’s horns, giving the appearance of a bull and a man joined together.
It is said that the king fed his enemies to this mythological monster until the labyrinth’s secret was finally unraveled. It was the Athenian hero Theseus who finally killed the Minotaur. He decapitated the beast, and used a string that he had laid behind him to find his way out of the Labyrinth.
The Minoan Palace makes for a fascinating tour that explores the myths and legends of ancient Crete.
You’ll learn more about Knossos and Minoan culture in Crete when you visit the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. The museum houses artifacts that span a period of more than 5,000 years, from the Neolithic period to Roman times.
The main feature in the museum is the collection of Minoan art, including the Bull Leaper from 1500 BC.
The artifacts that you’ll see in the archaeological museum in Heraklion testify to the rich past of the Minoan, Byzantine and Venetian periods on the island of Crete.
For history buffs, this is an insightful tour. I got to visit the archaeological site of the Palace of Knossos and then come back into town to visit the archaeological museum. I’m Ralph Grizzle, and I’ll see you in the next beautiful destination.