Knossos ~ Crete's Amazing Palace
Knossos Travel Blog› entry 24 of 38 › view all entries
David and I left the motel after a great breakfast in their upstairs area. We walked to the bus line and quickly found the bus that would take us to Knossos. We enjoyed the ride out. When we arrived we found the Knossos area had a huge parking lot and an overflow lot. Across the street were a series of small restaurants and souvenier shops. We bought a cold water each and walked in. We weren't hurrying... this was the only thing on our agenda for the day.
But first to give you some background of the Knossos Minoan Palace.
Crete is a wonderful blend of legend and mythology.
Androgeus represented Crete in the Athenian games and won many events. The Athenian king was jealous and murdered Androgeus. When Minos found out he sent his mighty Cretian fleet who defeated Athens. Athens was obligated to send seven young men and seven virgin women every nine year to be sacrificed to the Minotaur.
The Athenian king’s son, Theseus volunteered to be sent to Crete. He told his father if he was successful in killing the Minotaur he would raise white sails instead of black ones as he returned home. Minos’ daughter fell in love with Theseus and assisted him in defeating the Minotaur. In returning home Theseus forgot to change the sails to white. The king of Athens saw the black sails and flung himself into the sea and died.
When the palace was excavated it was found to be in a confusing layout. It resembled a labyrinth. The large court yard branched out in rooms, corridors and storage areas that were purposely designed in a labyrinth pattern.
Amateur Archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann (he discovered Troy and Mycenae) intended to excavate Knossos but died before he accomplished it.
There were amazing artifacts found in the excavations. Many of the artifacts were over 5,000 years old. Egyptian pottery from particular periods helped date artifacts. There were bronze statues and figurines. One room had a huge ornate vase jars that had contained oil.
When we went to the museum in Heraklion Archaeological Museum many of the original frescoes were displayed. They were reproduced at the Knossos palace where Evans thought they were. He cemented in and rebuilt many of the buildings. Instead of completing them he had them sort of broken off as though they had been broken in an earthquake. There is much criticism from fellow archaeologists about his handling of the site.
Knossos is the most visited place in Crete. Crete has many sites that excavated and unimproved. For David and I : We prefer the unimproved sites but we can see the benefit of having a site rebuilt too.
A couple of areas were roped off. In one I talked one of the construction workers into taking pictures of the forbidden area... he was hesitant and didn't want to but one of his buddies urged him then made him take a couple more pictures... I was really happy as I couldn't get to the area myself. We were able to easily follow the map and understand the layout. We saw where some of the artifacts were recovered from the signs at the site (made it interesting as we went to the museum first).
We walked around the site covering the outer areas first to get a lay out.. We went by the Royal road (in the public area on the right side) and found some striped pottery and photographed it and put it back where we found it. By the side fence we could hear music playing at a farm house and birds singing... it was really nice getting off the beaten path. We sat for a while and drank our water and chatted.
In the afternoon (after about 5 hours) we were going to eat at the snackbar at the site but an older man who was at the gate urged us to cross the street and eat at the little place there. A good call on that.... the food was excellent: and far cheaper than the snackbar food. David had lamb and I had moussaka and we got a liter of beer.
The palace of Knossos is stunning.... It has a huge throne room with recreated frescos on the walls. Many of the rooms are recreated and frescoed. The queens apartment contained the famous blue dolphins fresco. The area contained two and three storied areas. Besides the royal residences there were private residences, reception rooms, political halls, a theater, shrines and porticoes.
Finally the site was closing. We walked across the street to the shops and bought some postcards and some nice vases. I bought a great necklace. I wish i had gotten our daughters one too as i get so many compliments when I wear it although it was only 16 Euros. We really enjoyed the site. We would go again in a heart beat!