The Palace of Knossos

The Palace of Knossos is Crete’s most famous attraction and the former capital of the Minoans, the first advanced civilization in all of Europe.  To put its age into context, the Minoan civilization started as early as 3500BC, with the more complex urban civilization around 2000BC – the oldest advanced civilization in the world was the Sumerians in 3000BC, the Pyramid of Giza was built 2500BC, the Ancient Greek Dark Ages only started in 1200BC/ 800BC, Rome was only founded in 753BC and starts to branch outside of Italy in 250BC.  Indeed – Old AF and with the added mystery that we still don’t know how they collapsed in 1450BC


The problem with Knossos though is that it is very hard to contextualize this history and bring it to life.  This is not a criticism of the restoration work that has been done, it is actually very impressive, more just the broad difficulties for a site quite this old.  So, my tips:


  • Biggest one – try and read up on the Minoans before you arrive, otherwise you run the risk of your visit feeling a bit like one of those school trips where you wander around a little bored and starting at a bunch of old stones with not that much meaning.  Instead, you want to be imaging what this place was like and how far ahead of its time it really was
  • Get there before 10am – we noticed a clear increase in fellow tourists at 10am as the coach loads arrived and, if visiting in summer, it avoids the energy sapping heat of the day
  • Take full advantage of the rest of Crete – I look forward to returning to Crete one day to venture further out to see the more remote eastern end, hike Europe’s longest gorge and rent a car to go exploring all across the island.  In my trip, I did what most do – fly into Iraklio, sit in a hotel by the pool, visit Knossos and have a few nice meals.  Pleasant, but not exactly a wow experience