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Knossos

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The archaeological site of Knossos was discovered at the end of the 19th Century and is the largest site on the island of Crete - the Palace of Knossos, home to the legendary King Minos, his labyrinth, and the Minotaur who lived inside it. Visitors can see both the original ruins, which date back to approximately 1700 BC, and a partial reconstruction of the palace how it would have looked according to early 20th Century archaeologists.
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Crete: Palace of Knossos Ticket with Audio Tour
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Heraklion: Knossos Palace Skip-the-Line Guided Walking Tour
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Knossos Palace Skip-the-Line Ticket & Private Guided Tour
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From Rethymno: Full-Day Knossos and Heraklion Tour
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4 Tips for Visiting the Knossos

Northern Buildings, Knossos | Photo: James Preston CC-BY 2.0
1
Water and protection from the sunMake sure to bring plenty of water with you! The hot weather in Crete is especially intense in summer and the site is exposed to the elements. You might also need to bring sunscreen and a hat as there isn’t much shade available, and comfortable shoes for walking are also advised.
Knossos | Photo: Andrew Skudder CC-BY-SA 2.0
2
Plan your visiting timeIf you want to skip long lines then it’s best to visit Knossos first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon. The site is busiest in summer and gets a lot of traffic from large groups of tourists.
3
Visit the MuseumAfter you’ve visited the ruins of Knossos, you might enjoy a trip to the local archaeological museum to get a more complete picture of the history and culture of the Minoans.
4
Beaches are nearbyIf you need to cool off after a dusty and hot visit to the ruins, there are plenty of nearby beaches where you can swim or enjoy a refreshing paddle in the sea.
Knossos | Ulmon: CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Knossos: evidence of early historical civilization

The oldest part of the ruins of Knossos dates back to the 7th millennium BC.
From the end of the 3rd millennium BC, the site acquired greater importance as kingdoms developed around it, as indicated by the palace complexes that already existed at that time. An earthquake destroyed almost all the palaces of Crete between 1750 and 1700 BC, but later they were rebuilt even more elaborately. The palace of Knossos was used at least until 1370 BC. According to historians, after a Mycenaean invasion in the 14th century BC, the Minoan culture perished, Knossos was destroyed and abandoned. Only around 1000 BC the city was repopulated.

The Greek and Roman Knossos of later centuries, in turn, is located near the palace ruins, but has been excavated to this day only a small part.
Knossos | Ulmon: CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Discovery of Knossos

The Cretan merchant and amateur archaeologist Minos Kalokairinos first uncovered parts of the site in 1878. Systematic excavations took place from 1900 by the English ethnologist Arthur Evans and lasted until 1914. Over 215,278 sqft (20,000 square meters) of the site were uncovered during this time. The reconstructions of the palace which you can still see today date back to Evans, although he was criticized for basing the reconstructed palace on the aesthetics of buildings of the day and descriptions from ancient texts rather than interpreting the remains that he found. The exact use of the site is still a subject of speculation, some archaeologists believe it was the capital city or administrative center, others argue that it was a Necropolis or sacred site.

The Labyrinth of Minotaur

According to tradition, the Minotaur was a mythical man-eating hybrid creature of bull and man, created by the lack of respect Minos had for the sea god Poseidon. Minos had a mythical labyrinth built for this creature, in which it remained trapped. After Minos had defeated the Athenians, they had to give him seven virgins and young men as tribute every ninth year, which he sacrificed to Minotaur. Only Prince Theseus was able to put an end to this with the help of Minos' daughter Ariadne, who had fallen in love with him. He defeated the Minotaur and fled to Naxos with Ariadne and the hostages. The location of the labyrinth is still shrouded in mystery, though according to legends it’s either beneath the palace complex of Knossos or in a cave about 3 hours away.
Knossos | Ulmon: CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Knossos for families: fun exploring the ruins

Many scenes in the series use the walls as a powerful backdrop
With strollers you have difficulties here because of the many unpaved paths and stairs. However, a visit to the archaeological sites of Knossos is definitely recommended for older children. To learn more about the mythology of this fantastic place in Crete, there are even special offers and guided tours for families.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I plan for a trip to Knossos?

It takes about 2 hours to explore the ruin thoroughly. If you also decide to visit the local archaeological museum, then it’s recommended that you plan in an additional 3 hours. It’s generally advised that you plan about half a day at least for a visit to the largest archaeological site in Crete, plus traveling time, or that you visit on an organized day trip! Read more.

Will my children enjoy a trip to see Knossos?

Although it might be tricky to navigate the uneven paths and steps with a stroller, older children can expect to have a lot of fun exploring the ruins! It’s advised that you take advantage of a guided tour when visiting with kids, as an expert guide will be able to bring the myths and legends to life in a way that will interest the whole family. Read more.

General Information

Opening Hours:

In summer the palace is open daily from 8 am to 8 pm, in winter the site is open from 8 am to 5 pm. On public and religious holidays the opening times may vary.

Tickets:

Tickets for adults cost 15€ per person and 8€ for children, students, and those over the age of 65. Combined tickets including entry to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum are 16€ for adults and 10€ for children, students and those over 65.

COVID-19 measures

⚠️Currently, measures are taken against the coronavirus:
  • Pandemic measures are subject to change by the local authorities.

Address:

Knossos
714 09, Greece

How to get there:

From Iraklio the site is easily reached by bus (number 2) which runs 3-5 times an hour from bus station A. Knossos is the final stop. The site also has a car park.
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