I woke up early to visit the palace of Knossos. The idea was to beat the weekend crowds (it was a Sunday), but I need not have worried. There were a few tour groups, but mostly I had the place to myself. The palace is about a twenty minute drive from Heraklion, and is easily reachable by public bus from the main bus station.
Knossos is the largest and most famous of the Minoan palaces on the island of Crete. The primary excavation was done around the turn of the twentieth century by Arthur Evans who, shall we say, was not shy about sharing his own vision of the palace with the world. Although the field of archeology has changed greatly since that time, the palace stands today mostly as Evans restored it, complete with colorful columns and reimagined frescoes. The names of the buildings (placed here in quotation marks) are those used by Evans, and thus are purely speculative.
This is the "South Propylaeum" (southern entrance to the palace). Evans put a copy of the cup bearer fresco on the wall.
The "Throne Room" is named for the stone seat found in the chamber. The original wall fresco has been restored and is in the Heraklion archeological museum. This copy was placed here by Evans. The space on the left behind the colored columns has a sunken floor; Evans claimed it was a cistern used for purification ceremonies.
The "Central Court" connects all the different wings of the palace.
This is the "School Room", where Evans claims students kneaded clay for clay tablets in the cylindrical mortar next to the bench. More recent research suggests that it was a pottery studio.
The "Magazine of the Giant Pithoi" contains these giant storage jars:
This is the "Bastion", or raised colonnade, of the north entrance.
This is the "North Lustral Basin", which Evans claimed was used for purification before entering the sacred palace; however, it has no drainage system, so it is unlikely it contained water.
This is the "Theater":
And, finally, this is the "Royal Road" leading out of the palace.
After leaving the palace, I took the bus back to Heraklion, where I visited the archeological museum. The museum contains the largest collection of Minoan artifacts in the world, as well as the original frescoes from the palace at Knossos. The sheer number of objects is overwhelming, but here are a few things I found interesting. (I generally find it silly to take lots of photos in museums, especially ones of objects under glass, but I make an exception for things which catch my eye or things I want to remember).
The plate on the right is absolutely adorable:
Lots of sharp, pointy bronze things:
Octopus decorations on pithoi and burial sarcophagi. There was no mention of this here, but I learned in the Athens archeological museum that this was a common Minoan theme (a component of the aptly named "marine style").
These figures of goddesses with upraised arms were placed in communal shrines, and are said to be the earliest known religious images of gods.
Finally we have a Roman statue of Pluto, Persepone, and Cerberus. I took this picture since I had never before seen a statue of Cerberus.