Every time you visit the island of Crete, you may discover its numerous stunning locations, some of which are related to ancient mythology. One such location, and a superb illustration of Greek architecture and creativity, is Knossos. The complex buildings that were created centuries ago are still visible at the site, despite it being in ruins. Because of its long history, Knossos is regarded as the oldest city in all of Europe.
In the valley of the river Kairatos, 5km (3 miles) southeast of Heraklion, is Knossos, the renowned Minoan Palace. The mythological King Minos, a son of Zeus and Europa, lived at the Palace of Knossos in Greek mythology. King Minos had the great artist Daedalus build a labyrinth to house his offspring, the Minotaur, a fabled being who was half bull and half man. Once someone entered the labyrinth, there was no way for him to get out because of how intricately planned it was. The beast was eventually put to death by Theseus.
The Minotaur’s Labyrinth is more than just a myth. It’s possible to see what could be the mythological maze where the half-bull, half-man Minotaur lived at Knossos, one of Crete’s major towns. This castle is said to have inspired the tale of the Labyrinth. The building was erected by Cretan King Minos to ward off the fabled Minotaur, a hybrid of a bull and a human.
Knossos was the most significant Bronze Age archaeological site and the hub of the Minoan civilization. This city was a significant center for politics, religion, and commerce, and it made use of the nearby river to advance its industries.
The biggest Minoan palace edifice, measuring over 20,000 square meters, is found at Knossos. It was made of ashlar stones and was embellished with really lovely paintings. An earthquake in 1700 BC completely demolished the former palace, which had been constructed circa 2,000 BC. Almost immediately after the original palace was destroyed, the newer, more intricate one was constructed. The Achaeans conquered the island of Crete in the middle of the 15th century BC, and they lived in the palace. In the middle of the 14th century B.C., fire once again destroyed the palace, ending its use as a palatial center.
Although Knossos is the greatest Bronze Age archaeological site on the island of Crete, some of its structures date back to earlier eras like the Neolithic and the Classical. Although the palace of Knossos was destroyed by the earthquake, the Minoan civilization was almost immediately rebuilt on top of the ancient remains, and it was only after the destruction that the culture attained its zenith.
Due to the ensuing alterations, the palace’s original design is no longer discernible. Around 1300 rooms are interconnected by a variety of sized passageways. The palace featured four wings, each with its own entrance, that were placed around a central court. The dwelling quarters, workshops, and shrine are in the east wing. The royal chamber and the banquet halls were on the top levels, while the storerooms, shrines, and repositories were on the west wing. The Customs House, which includes a lustrous bin and a stone-built theater space, is located in the north wing. The South Propylon, which is perhaps the most imposing structure, was located on the south wing.
The palace featured three different systems for managing liquids: one for supply, one for rainwater drainage, and one for wastewater drainage. Fresh water was delivered by aqueducts to Kephala Hill and then branched out to the town and palace. Terracotta pipes fed gravity to the palace’s fountains and spigots. Sanitation drainage was carried out by a closed system that connected to a sewer not far from the hill.
The palace was created in a way that it could make the most of the natural illumination throughout the long summer days. To provide additional window openings, the rooms were constructed so that they surrounded courtyards. To increase the amount of door opening space, the rooms’ doors were multi-door; if feasible, open porticoes were built around the staircases and light wells in the hallways. Thus, many of the lighting issues were resolved by the architectural design. However, the palace must have had a lot of trouble with the wide open expanses, especially in the winter. No signs of central heating can be found. It is considered that there must have been a separate heating system for each room. They employed both stationary and mobile ceramic hearths for heating, as well as charcoal-lit fires.
The crimson columns of the palace set it out. The Minoan columns are the reverse of Greek columns in that they have a narrower base and a wider top.
Most Greek columns are narrower at the top and wider at the bottom. The palace’s columns had spherical, pillow-like tops and were set on stone bases. Numerous paintings were used to embellish the palace’s walls. However, the ruins were simply shattered pieces and required rebuilding, which was handled by the artist Piet de Jong. Built into the north wall of the Throne Room is an alabaster bench that serves as a throne. Gypsum seats can be found on the room’s three corners, and a lustrous basin that is used for ritual cleansing is located directly across from the throne.
Unquestionably, the political and ceremonial hub of Minoan society was the Palace of Knossos. It looks to be a confusing arrangement of offices, residences, and storage areas located near a central plaza. Restorations of the palace’s internal and outdoor paintings, as well as the artistic patterns of the pottery and the insignia on the seals, give an approximate graphic perspective of various elements of Cretan life in the Bronze Age.
In the year 1878, Minos Kalokairinos made the place his own. The English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851–1941) and his colleagues started excavating at Knossos in 1900 A.D. and continued for 35 years.
Because of its construction, use of fine materials, architectural design, sophisticated construction methods, and stunning scale, the Palace of Knossos is a colossal representation of Minoan culture. The impressive Palace of Knossos is a must-see whether you’re enthralled by Greek mythology or interested in ancient history.
The featured image at the beginning of this post is from Bernard Gagnon of WikiMedia.