When we went to Crete, one thing really surprised me, and that was how great visiting Knossos was. I thought visiting an ancient palace in Greece sounded a bit boring, and that was without the one hour car journey just to get there from our resort. But I was proved wrong, as the walking tour (around one and a half hours long) was fun and very interesting. As well as being able to explore parts of a building established in around 2000 BC, we also found out that one of the most famous Greek myths of all originated from there.
Knossos is a palace which is located on an ancient piece of land dating back to the Bronze Age. It was thought to be the palace owned by King Minos (one of Zeus’s three sons) and was destroyed three times by natural causes.
Each time it was rebuilt again grander than before until it was eventually just left in ruins. Over time it became a hill and in 1899 after a previous archaeological dig that was stopped by the Turkish government, a man called Arthur Evans unearthed the whole palace where he discovered paintings, rooms and even ancient thrones, all of which you can still see today. He also tried to re-create the palace as it had been thousands of years before (some people don’t like these recreations, but I thought it was good to see what it would have looked like).
When we went to Knossos, we had a lovely tour guide who told us many interesting facts but my favourite has got to be that the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur was created here. As the building was so big it was a bit like a maze or a labyrinth. The word “labyrinth” actually came from Knossos and means “the palace of double headed axes” (you can see these double headed axes drawn on many of the stones).
One of the gods they used to worship went to sleep in the winter and woke in the spring. At that time of the year the Minoans would celebrate by letting fourteen year olds die (a very strange way to celebrate!). To become an adult in the community you had to grab on to a charging bull’s horns and flip yourself over he creature. If you successfully completed the task, a family, wealth and a job awaited you but if you failed, the only thing that awaited you was death. This bull was named after the ruler of the palace, King Minos thus creating the Minotaur.
I loved the throne room, as you got to see a real-life ancient throne that the monarch used to sit on. This had a ten minute queue to get in, but it was worth it. Funnily enough the queen’s throne was in a separate room to the king’s. I enjoyed looking at the ancient artwork and tools plus walking up stairs thousands of years old.
I really enjoyed visiting Knossos even though it was tiring walking for a long time in the hot sun, so definitely bring a bottle of water (we finished five). I loved it but I wouldn’t take kids under six because it is rather confusing and there is lots of walking. You don’t have to get a tour guide but I would recommend it as I’m sure it’s the best way to learn from the experience.
You can see highlights of our trip to Crete in this video – including some shots of Knossos.
Mum says: We stayed in Crete at the beautiful Domes of Elounda (post to follow) and we took a car from our hotel to Knossos. The palace is located around 5km from Heraklion.
It costs just €6 to enter. You can also queue up for a guide, as we did, going round in a small group. This cost us €10 per person. It was definitely worth it to be told all about the history and given extra facts too.
Yesterday it was reported that prices are to be raised for many Greek monuments, with entry to Knossos rising to €15.