Ruins of Knossós on Crete, Greece

The ruins of Knossós are located in eastern Crete and originate from the largest palace of the Cretan King Minos. It impresses with its sheer dimensions and ingenious construction.

The ruins of the Palace of Knossós are located in the east of the island and are one of our top 10 sights of Crete. The ancient relics from antiquity are the most visited attraction of the popular Mediterranean island.


The palace of Knossós was once the seat of Minos, son of Zeus and Europa and king of Crete. He is considered the founder of Minoan culture and is best known for the legendary figure of the Minotaur. This monster, half man, half bull, is said to have been kept by King Minos in a labyrinth below his palace.

PICTURES: Ruins of Knossós on Crete

Photo gallery: Ruins of Knossós in Crete

The palace of Knossós was built around 1900 BC. With an area of almost 8km², the magnificent five-storey building was twice as large as other Minoan palaces on Crete and thus worthy of a king. It had no defences whatsoever, for the Minoan people were vastly superior to all possible enemies in all respects. Without the danger of war, the Minoans could concentrate on trade and science.

The ruins of the present palace of Knossós date from around 1450 BC. Around 1700, the palace was destroyed for the first time by an earthquake, but was subsequently rebuilt. After the second devastating earthquake, the palace remained in ruins, which have been preserved until today.

Special features of the Palace of Knossós

The ruins of the present palace of Knossós date from around 1450 BC, Greece - © lornet / Shutterstock
© lornet / Shutterstock

The gigantic palace once had 1,400 rooms to offer the Minoan royal family and their servants. Its intricate layout with narrow corridors and countless doors, stairways and ramps was probably the breeding ground for the Minotaur's labyrinth. In the centre, a spacious courtyard provides fresh air and walking opportunities, and a separate palace theatre provided cultural entertainment.

What was special about the Palace of Knossós, however, was its extraordinarily advanced construction. Ingenious underground terracotta constructions provided running water in the palace and ingenious ventilation shafts for pleasant coolness in summer, which kept food fresh for a long time and significantly improved hygiene (there were also water closets and hot water for bathing).

Discovery of the Palace of Knossós

Interior of the throne room of King Minos in the palace of Knossós on Crete, Greece - © lornet / Shutterstock
© lornet / Shutterstock

The most extensive excavations of the ruins of Knossós were carried out by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Jon Evans, who was considered the discoverer of the Minoan culture. After the palace of Minos had already been mentioned by the ancient poet Homer, he unceremoniously bought the plot of land on the hill Kephala where he suspected the ruins to be.


Before that, the Greek amateur archaeologist Minos Kalokairinos had already found some shards of clay and stone walls. In 1900, the excavations began, with up to 100 men working on them, and the magnificent palace with numerous ornate frescoes was indeed brought to light.

Evans began to reconstruct parts of the palace from the rubble, which led to a great outcry in worldwide archaeology. There were no clues to the appearance of the ancient palace and Evans' wanton piling up of fantasy buildings would normally have been unthinkable. Nevertheless, he earned great fame in London for his work and was even knighted.

Visit to the Palace of Knossós

The ruins of the Palace of Knossós are the most visited sight on the Mediterranean island, Greece - © Pierrette Guertin / Fotolia
© Pierrette Guertin / Fotolia

Today, the monumental palace ruins can be visited almost without restrictions. At the heart of the ruins is the throne room, so named after a precious alabaster throne. The foundations give an idea of the gigantic dimensions of the palace of Knossós.

Countless rooms nestle along comparatively narrow corridors and in some places you can even enter the upper floors. Here and there, the former splendour of the palace of Knossós can be glimpsed in the ornately decorated staircases, elaborate frescoes and columned galleries.

Some of the masterful wall paintings have been reconstructed, a very special gem being the world-famous dolphin fresco above a door.

Attention heat!

Like most archaeological sites in Greece, there is hardly any shade under the ruins of Knossos, which can quickly become uncomfortable in the Greek summer heat. So be sure to bring sunscreen and a sufficient supply of water!

To avoid the midday heat, it is advisable to visit in the early morning. At this time, the crowds of visitors are still bearable and the magnificent rooms can be viewed and, above all, photographed in peace.

By the way, there isparking directly in front of the entrance to the palace, you don't necessarily have to stop on the street, even if you are frantically waved into a (usually paid) space.


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Opening hours and entrance fee to the Palace Ruins of Knossós

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