The disc of Phaistos is the most important example of hieroglyphic inscription from Crete and was discovered around 1903-05 in a small room near the depositories of the "archive chamber", in the north - east apartments of the palace, together with a Linear A tablet and pottery dated to the beginning of the Neo-palatial period (1700- 1600 B.C.). The disc of Phaistos can be seen at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
The Red beach is located around 700m south from Matala. It is a beautiful secluded beach with fine reddish sand originating from the rocks of the area. The name "Red Beach" is given by the visitors due to its reddish color while its original name is Ammoúdia (GR: Αμμούδια). The sea gets a lovely blue-green color, making the landscape really unique. The only way to access Red Beach is on foot or by boat from Matala. The walk from Matala takes about 20 minutes and it can't be considered as an easy one. Red Beach however can get pretty crowded in the high season. There is a small stone-wall canteen offering snacks and drinks and a few umbrellas and sun-beds. Nudism is tolerated at the two ends of the beach.
The Upper Court is the first of the three courts in the West Wing of the Palace. Its south side is supported by a strong retaining wall separating it from the West Court. On the west side, the 17 circular recesses in the ground indicate the presence of an equal number of wooden columns which probably supported a covered colonnade. The court is crossed from north to south by a raised "Processional Causeway", which, like those of the other palaces, would have been used for sacred processions and other rituals. The Upper Court also functioned as a kind of balcony from which one could watch the events taking place in the West Court, which is just to the south and on a lower level. The two courts are linked by a majestic staircase starting in the southeast part of the Court. The buildings on the south side of the court were built much later, in Hellenistic times (323-67 BC), when the palaces had already beendestroyed. The most important of these contains a room with two columns, a central hearth and stone benches around the walls. It isbelieved to be a public building, probably a Prytaneion or Andreion.Early Christian tombs (330-600 AD) can be seen east of the "Processional Causeway"
The large paved West Court, in front of the facade and the central entrance to the Palace complex, dates from the time of the Old Palace (1900 - 1700 BC) and played an important part in the lives of its inhabitants. On the north it is bounded by a high which also supports the Upper Court, which is on a higher level. At the foot of the wall are eight wide steps which formed the seats of what may be called a theatral area. As with the corresponding "Theatre" of Knossos, from here spectators would have watched the religious events and festivals taking place in the court. The West Court is crossed by a raised "Processional Causeway" similar to that of the Upper Court, which continues up the steps of the Theatral Area. During the time of New Palate the West Court was widened and raised to a higher level, so only 4 of its 8 steps remained visible. After the reduction of the Theatral Area, the great staircase must have been used as an additional theatral area for the events and ceremonies held in the West Court.
The south end of the West Court is occupied by four large stone-built structures known as "Kouloures" (rings) ,belonging to the Old Palace complex. The workmen on Evans' excavation gave them their name when they were first discovered at Knossos. Similar pits were also later discovered at the Palace of Malia. Their exact use is unknoun, although today they are generally regarded as depositories for offerings from the Palace shrines, or granaries. In front of the Phaistos "Kouloures" passes a "Processional Causeway" which starts in the West Court. One of the "Kouloures" is cut across by a cobbled road built in later years. The well next to them belongs to the Hellenistic period (323 - 67 BC).
The main facade of both the Old and the New Palace looked onto the West Court, off which the official entrances to the Palace opened. The facade which can be seen on a lower level belongs to the Old Palace(1900- 1700 BC). It is indented according to the rules of Minoan architecture. The lower part of the walls is constructed of massive limestone blocks (orthostats). The entrance is set into a recess in the SW corner of the court. lt consisted of a monumental porch with a large central column from which a splendid corridor, paved with gypsum slabs, led to the Central Court. This old entrance is now interrupted by the buildings of the New Palace. Higher up and 7 metres further back is the facade of the New Palace (1700-1450 BC). It is constructed of large ashlars and also has deep indentations and protrusions. There are two entrances leading to the interior of the Palace. The main entrance is on the north and consists of a monumental staircase leading to the Propylaea. The other is deeply recesed and leads via a wide corridor to the Oentral Court, crossing the West Wing of the Palace
The impressive staircase starting in the west Court led to the monumental Propylaea, the principal and most impressive entrance to the New Palace (1700-M50 BC). The portico consists of a central column - only the base is preserved today - flanked by pilasters. There followed a solid wall with a double opening and a colonnade of three columns. The floors of the Propylaea complex were paved with gypsum slabs which gave it a sumptuous appearance. The colonnade opens onto a large open-air light-well through which rainwater drained away. There are two accesses from the Propylaea to different parts of the Palace. The first access, in the hall with the colonnade, led via a staircase and corridors to the Peristyle and thence to the "Royal Apartments". The second, in the SE corner of the light-well, led to an inner staircase which ended in the Antechamber of the Magazines and the Central Court of the Palace.
The magazines of the Old Palace(1900-1700 BC) occupied a large part of the West Wing immediately to the east of the West Court and extended to the lower terrace. Apart from their use as storage areas, they also appear to have housed some of the workshop activities of the Old Palace. Today most of the magazines have been filled in. One of these is the magazine with the giant pithoi (storage jars) decorated with discs and rope patterns in relief. Just east of this is a well-preserved quern installation for grinding grain. There is another well-preserved Old Palace magazine under the floor of the light-well in the Propylaea.
The north part of the West Wing is occupied by she large complex of the palace magazines or store rooms. It consists of the antechamber, the corridor of the magazines and the magazines themselves. The first wide hall forms the antechamber of the magazines and opens off the Central Court via a doorway with a central column and two pillars. Two other columns inside the room supported the roof. Under the floor of the antechamber was discovered the Archive Room of the 0ld Palace (l900 - 1700 BC), containing over 6.000 clay sealings, i.e. seal impressions on balls of clay, which were used to monitor the movement of the goods in the magazines(fig 1). A double doorway with a central pillar on the west side of the antechamber led to the corridor of the magazines, with a second central pillar supporting the roof of the corridor. To right and left were the ll magazines, in which the goods produced by the Palace were stored. The westernmost magazine, on the north side of thecorridor, which has been roofed over by the excavators contains tall pithoi (storage jars), one of which bears an inscription in Linear A (fig.2)
Almost the whole south part of the West Wing was dedicated to the shrines of the New Palace. The main architectural types of shrine are the "Bench Shrine" and the "Lustral Basin". The first type consists of small, rectangular rooms with low benches running round the walls, perhaps to support cult objects and figurines of the deity. On some of them were found female figurines, ritual vessels and "Offering Tables" (small altars). On the walls of some rooms are incised sacred symbols, such as the double Axe and the star. The "lustral Basin" type consists of rooms which are set somewhat lower than the surrounding structures, with a few steps leading down into them. The were usually lined with slabs of gypsum, giving them a highly - finished appearance. Although it is doubtful that these structures contained water, it is thought that they were used for purification rituals. There is a third type of Minoan shrine in the S-E part of the shrine wing. Its is a room with central pillars (Square, stone - built columns) thought to be a cult area, similar to the "Pillar Crypts" of the Palace of Knossos, where the sacred pillar was worshiped by pouring libations.