The Ancient Palaces of Crete
During spring, Crete has a plethora of activities to enjoy and take part in. One that might take your fancy is experiencing the Ancient Minoan Palaces of Crete which has become a highlight to many visitors to the island. The four palaces show us the Minoan civilization which has been recorded as the first in Europe. Below is a description of each.
The archaeological site of Aptera, which was the most powerful city of western Crete during Minoan times, is located 15 km from the city of Chania, Crete, just south of Souda Bay, on a hill above the national road which connects Chania with the city of Rethymnon. The views from the top offer some of the most spectacular on the island. The findings of the archaeological excavations that still coming to light, fill the history puzzle of this ancient city. They give details about the settlement’s composition, the city’s architecture, the religion and habits of Apterean residents who were keen archers and even further depth into the history of the Cretan Civilization.
Knossós is one of the most intriguing ancient Minoan palaces of Crete. This is a very popular destination and in summer is extremely busy. If you don’t want crowds, visit in spring or autumn or, at the very least, start as early as possible in the morning. This was the legendary home to King Minos, and we see the motif of the bull, bull horns and bull frescoes, throughout the Palace.
Malia Palace is close to the sea, dating from 1900 BC. This palace was built at the same time as Knossos and Phaistos. Tablets with Linear A script were found here, also famous is the Room of the Panther, where a stone axe shaped like a panther, dating from 1700 BC, was discovered. Many artefacts have been gathered from this site and displayed at the Archaeological Museum of Iraklion, such as large ceramic pitharia or storage jars. This museum displays most of the artefacts and frescoes of the ancient Minoan palaces of Crete.
Palace of Phaistos
The Palace of Phaistos, located in the naturally fertile Messara valley, was built on a slight rise giving an impressive strategic setting and domination over the whole area. Behind the palace and up from the plains of the Messara rise the foothills of Psiloritis mountain range.
The last of the major palaces to be discovered, Zákros Palace is located near the sea at the very eastern tip of Crete, close to the fishing village of Kato Zakros. In a beautiful location, it is well worth a visit to this more remote part of Crete to see the excavations in relative quiet compared to the crazy crowds at Knossos. Extraordinary artifacts such as the beautiful rock crystal vase and stone bull’s head were discovered at this palace.
Take a walk back into an ancient Cretan past to discover the riches of the islands history and culture.