Knossos Palace is located about 20 miles from the capital city of Heraklion in Crete and was excavated by Englishman Sir Arthur Evans, it now draws visitors from all over the world all year round.
Knossos palace was inhabited for several thousand years, beginning with a neolithic settlement sometime in the seventh century BC, but it was abandoned after its destruction in 1375 BC. This was the end of the great Minoan civilisation as we know it, and scientists are yet to discover hard facts on how this great civilization disappeared.
Knossos Palace was the seat of King Minos, Minos reigned over Crete and the islands of the Aegean Sea three generations before the Trojan War. He lived at Knossos for periods of nine years, at the end of which he retired into a sacred cave. In Attic tradition and on the Athenian stage Minos is a cruel tyrant, the heartless exacter of the tribute of Athenian youths to feed the Minotaur.
To reconcile the contradictory aspects of his character, as well as to explain how Minos governed Crete over a period spanning so many generations, two kings of the name of Minos were assumed by later poets and mythologists. According to this view, the first King Minos was the son of Zeus and Europa and brother of Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon. This was the ‘good’ king Minos, and he was held in such esteem by the Olympian gods that, after he died, he was made one of the three Judges of the Dead.
For a better picture of Knossos look at the videos to the right, one from present day and the other is an old video from 1961 by Anthony Sooklaris.
Myths and Legends
Minos was challenged as king and prayed to Poseidon for help. Poseidon sent a giant white bull out of the sea. Minos planned on sacrificing the bull to Poseidon, but then decided not to. He substituted it with a different bull. In raged, Poseidon cursed Pasiphaë, Minos’ wife, with Zoophilia.
Daedalus built her a wooden cow, which she hid inside. The bull mated with the wooden cow and Pasiphaë was impregnated by the bull, giving birth to a horrible monster, the Minotaur(half man half bull). Daedalus was then ordered to build a complicated maze called the Labyrinth and Minos put the Minotaur in it. To make sure no one would ever know the secret of who the Minotaur was and how to get out of the Labyrinth (Daedalus knew both of these things), Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son, Icarus, along with the monster.
Theseus and the Minotaur
Theseus, son of Aegean ruler of Attica, travelled to Crete as part of the youths that had to be sacrificed to King Minos every 9 years, but once in the labyrinth he killed the Minotaur and managed to find his way out of the labyrinth with the aid of Ariadne the kings daughter who had fallen in love with Theseus and given him a ball of thread so he could retrace his steps back out of the labyrinth.
Theseus sailed back to Athens forgetting in his elation to replace the black sails with white ones as a signal of victory. His father Aegean who was watching for the returning ships from the Sounio rock saw the black sail, and in despair for what he thought was a failed mission that resulted to the death of his son, ended his life by jumping into the sea. That’s how the Aegean sea got it’s name.
Knossos Place Entrance Fees and Map
The palace is available to the general public throughout the year and the general entry price is 6 euros, children under 18 are admitted free of charge. For students and people over the age of 65 you can also get discounts. You can get to the palace by local buses which take 40 minutes or via your tour operator, with your tour operator expect to pay 35-
Knossos palace is open all year round but you will find it at its busiest in the summer months, the palace itself opens at 9:30AM daily and closes at 18:00. Its always recommended to use one of the guides available for the extra fee or to at least have a map and some background knowledge of Knossos Palace to get the best out of the day.
There are many guides books with maps of Knossos on sale within the village, Heraklion and through the likes of Amazon.com
Please note that although we try our best to keep the prices and entrance fees for Knossos Palace, they are subject to change and holidays2crete.com cannot be held responsible for local price changes.