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Archanes Archaeological collection
at 0km (N)
The Archaeological Museum of Archanes opened in 1993. It occupies an area of 570 square meters and it is located at the Tzami quarter in the center of the settlement. There, for the first time in Crete, the archaeological finds from a single site are exhibited. While the exterior spaces of the building were adapted to a tasteful ensemble, in resemblance with the impressive modesty of the environment and the traditional ochre and rosy colour tonations of Archanes. The interior was thus arranged as to accommodate the most modern mode of exhibition, especially attractive for the visitor.
The School at Ano Archanes
at 0.3km (N)
An excellent specimen of a specialized building, one of the first structures erected during the period of the Cretan State. It was designed by the architect Salivero, one of Prince George's officials. The plans were completed in 1901 and the construction was accomplished thanks to donations of rich Archanians living in the U.S.A. The building is Pi-shaped in plan, has two storeys and a basement, it is built of stone and its roof is partially wooden and covered with tiles.
It is a monumental but well balanced structure with many harmonic and elegant Neoclassical features. Since its construction, the building has been used as a school. During the German occupation it housed General Muller's division.
Source: The Hellenic Ministry of Culture
at 0.6km (NE)
A small traditional town (~4000 people) 15 km south of Iraklion on the foot of the sacred mountain Yiouhtas. Renowned for its excellent wine (from the varieties: vilana, kotsifali and madilari) and the archaeolocical sites and caves.
In 1912, Xanthoudides noted the importance of Archanes, but Sir Arthur Evans was the first to characterize the site as palatial, declaring that Archanes was likely a Summer Palace for the Knossos kings. Spyridon Marinatos and N. Platon excavated minor areas in the region, but nothing supported Evans' theory. In 1964, J. Sakellarakis dug trial trenches at the Tourkoyeitonia site and uncovered the first evidence of a palace site. Since 1966, Archanes has been excavated by the Greek Archaeaological Society under the supervision of John Sakellarakis and Efi Sapouna-Sakellarakis.
Phourni Archaeological Site
at 1.1km (N)
Excavations at Phourni have brought to light 26 buildings, most of which had funerary use. The cemetery was used from 2400 B.C. until 1200 B.C. and each complex had more than one architectural phase. Most of the funerary buildings were used for many decades and contain successive burials. Excavations were begun in 1964 by Efi and John Sakellarakis and have been continued until today (1995) with short interruptions. Most of the buildings are preserved in good condition.
Anemospelia Archaeological Site
at 2.6km (NW)
Anemóspilia (GR: Aνεμόσπηλια). Anemospilia is an archeological site at the northern foot of Mount Yuchtas, in the prefecture of Heraklion in Crete. A rectangular building has been found which dates from the Minoan era and was destroyed by an earthquake in the 17th century BC.
The building with three narrow chambers, each opening into a long corridor to the north, which extends along the whole width of the building. The area is enclosed with a stone wall and the whole structure has been interpreted as a shrine; in the central room was found a "xoanon" (statue) of the deity worshiped here. In the west room, where the altar stood, was uncovered, according to the excavator, the first human sacrifice to have ever taken place in Minoan times. (although this view has been challenged).
The building at Anemospelia was used for only half a century, as it was suddenly destroyed by an earthquake in the middle of the 17th century B.C. The site was excavated in the summer of 1979 by John Sakellarakis.
Minoan Religion (Foundation of the Hellenic World)
Minoan Megaron at Vathypetro
at 2.8km (S)
The Minoan villa at Vathypetro was most likely the residence of a local ruler. Its architecture is comparable to that of a "Little Palace": it has a central and west court, a small tripartite shrine, a three-columned portico, storerooms and workshops. It seems that the construction of the building was never completed. Interesting elements of its architecture are the installations of a wine-press in the south wing and an oil-press in the courtyard.
Nikos Kazantzakis Museum
at 4.6km (E)
The Nikos Kazantzakis Museum is dedicated to the great Greek writer, poet and philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis. It was founded in 1983 and it is located at the village Myrtia in Iraklion, next to his father's house.
The museum contains some of his personal belongings (pipes, glasses, pens, etc.) and a rich collection of his manuscripts and letters, first Greek editions of his books, documents from theatrical productions of his works, copies of TV series and movies based on his novels, portraits of Nikos Kazantzakis, copies of press releases and articles on his life and work.
Labyrinth Musical Workshop
at 4.9km (S)
The Musical Workshop "Labyrinth" organizes seminars, concerts and various creative activities around modal traditional musics of the world. Labyrinth Musical Workshop was founded in 1982 by Ross Daly, with the goal of initiating young people, primarily, into a creative approach to traditional musical idioms from various parts of the world.
Prophitis Ilias Town
at 6km (SW)
The town of Profitis Ilias (GR: Προφήτης Ηλίας), or Roka for the locals, is found 20km south of Heraklion It is built on the top of two hills offering an unforgettable view to the surrounding areas. A natural fortification, due to its position, it has been suggested that ancient Lycastos was built here. It is also known as Kandli Kasteli due to the castle located at the summit of a rock southeast of the town.
Nikiforos Fokas built the Byzantine castle of Temenos in the same location in 961 when he freed the island from the Saracens. His objective was to bring the city of Hantaka (Heraklion) into the castle of Temenos. However, this did not materialize and the city remained were it was. In the thirteenth century the castle of Temenos was occupied by the Genoese Pescatore, and later by the Venetians. The name Kanli Kastelli in Turkish means blood-painted castle, and took its name from a massacre of Turks by the Venetians and Greeks that took place here in 1647.
Palace and Archaeological site
at 6.9km (N)
The famous Palace of king Minos and the centre of the Minoan civilisation 5km south of Iraklion. The Great Palace covered an area of 20.000 sq. meters and had 1.400 rooms. Every section of the Palace had a specific use. In the west side of the Palace were the chambers of the ceremonies, of the administration and of the public storehouse...
at 6.9km (S)
The "West Porch" was a roofed area opening onto the Court, supported by one column of which part of the gypsum base remains. The east wall was decorated with a bull-leaping fresco. There was a small "guard-room" at the back.
The porch was closed off by a double door and from here began the long "Corridor of the Procession".
The Corridor of the Procession
at 6.9km (S)
The Corridor of the Procession is named from the wall painting decorating its east wall and depicting a procession of musicians and other people holding gifts.
The floor was very fine. The "Corridor of the Procession", according to Evans, initially led to the "South Propylaeum" and continued on to the Central Court.
Today a causeway made of wood, with handrail, stands in its place, so the visitors can follow the same route.
The South Propylaeum
at 6.9km (S)
The "South Propylaeum", as we see it today, is a result of the restoration of Evans who put up a copy of the "Cup-Bearer" fresco here. The wall painting depicted a man holding a libation vase (rhyton). Its theme is connected with the "Procession Fresco" which, according to Evans, reached here, the "South Propylaeum". The pithoi (large storage jars) on the east side of the Propylaeum belong to the Postpalatial Period (1450-1100 B.C.), and indicate that the area was later used for storage.
The South Entrance
at 6.9km (S)
The south part and south facade of the palace is very eroded. Today one can only see foundations on tiered levels. At the bottom, a tower-like projection is all that remains of the south entrance to the Palace. An asceding corridor led to the Central Court.
The section of the corridor closest to the Central Court was reconstructed by Evans who put here a copy of a relief wall painting, of which only few fragments were found. On these fragments, it was possible to make out a figure wearing jewellery in the shape of lilies. The reconstruction we see here is uncertain. In Evans's opinion, it represented the "Priest-King". Other scholars think that it is a prince, whilst others believe it depicts a female figure. Anyway the original fresco which is known as the "Prince of Lilies" is one of the masterpieces in the collection of the Heraklion Museum.
The Tripartite Shrine
at 6.9km (S)
To the south of the Throne Room and the stairs, lies the area that has been identified as a shrine, called by Evans the "Tripartite Shrine" (Evans's restoration drawing). Its facade had columns and was divided into three parts, the central element being the highest. There is a depiction of a comparable shrine on a wall painting now on display in Heraklion Museum. Inside the shrine were found clay tablets in the Linear B script and clay seal impressions which were possibly connected with the archive of a shrine.
The remaining areas behind the "Tripartite Shrine" are thought to have been connected with the sanctuaries of the palace. At the back, two small dark rooms with pillars are known as the "Pillar Crypts". The depresions in their floor are said to indicate that these rooms were used for libations. In another room, two large, rectangular, stone-built repositories were found, sunk into the floor. They were full of clay vases and valuable objects, amongst which were the statuettes representing the "Shake Goddess". The repositories have been interpreted as the "Temlple Repositories".
The stairs on the right lead from the Central court to the upper floor of the West wing. This is largely reconstructed by Evans.
The Piano Nobile
at 6.9km (S)
The great staircase and the upper floor to which it leads are largely Evans’ creation. Evans thought that it had a function rather like the first floor of Italian Palazzi of the Renaissance, which was called Piano Nobile. In this instance, he considered that the important reception rooms of the palace would lie on the upper floor. Evans also thought that there existed a shrine, the "Tri-Columnar Shrine", and its Treasury. The basis for his restoration lies in the column and pillar bases and the ritual stone vases found collapsed onto the ground floor, like the alabaster one in the shape of a lioness head. The rectangular building next to the stairs was built a long time after the destruction of the palace. Evans interpreted it as a "Greek Temple" based on finds of the historic period.
The Central Court
at 6.9km (S)
The Central Court (dimensions ca. 50m x 25 m.) is an architectural element common to all Minoan palaces. The Court connects the different wings with one another. There was also direct access from outside the Palace. Part of the paving, which once covered the whole court, is preserved in the northwest and southwest corners, whilst near the "Throne Room", parts of the drainage system can be made out which ensured the evacuation of rain water.
It is thought that the area must have been for meetings and rituals of both a sacred and profane character
The orientation of the Central Court was north-south with a clear view of the sacred Mount Giouhtas, where an important sanctuary was located.
Sir Arthur Evans
Excavator of Knossos
at 6.9km (S)
British archaeologist whose name is inextricably bound up with excavations and restoration work at the palace of Knossos. Born as the son of numismatist John Evans, he studied at Oxford and briefly in Göttingen. From 1875 to 1882 he travelled through the Balkans as a correspondent of the Manchester Guardian. In 1884 he was appointed curator at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, which post he held until 1908. One year later he became a university don. In 1894 Schliemman's excavations at Troy, Mycenae and Tiryns prompted Evans to visit Crete for the first time, in search of Bronze Age script. The following year he published his first book on Cretan pictographics and pre-Phoenician writing. He set about systematic excavation work after the island was liberated from the Turks (in 1898), having already located the wider area in which to dig. At the same time he toured the length and breadth of Crete.
Evans worked at Knossos for no less than 35 years, bringing the palace and countless finds to light. The building's large surface area and shape led him to the conclusion that it had been the palace of King Minos. He thus gave the name 'Minoan' to the civilization he had uncovered, subdividing it into three major periods. In 1911 he was knighted for his excavation activity and extensive work. Alongside the excavations, Evans showed great zeal in restoring the palace and reconstructing the wall paintings that had come to light. For all the intense criticism this part of his work has often attracted, it still stands as a first approach to what is now known as the Minoan palace. The ensuing publications of material added many pieces to the puzzle of Minoan civilization and remain useful research tools to this day. In the course of his last visit to Crete, Evans was given the Freedom of the City of Heraklion.
at 6.9km (S)
Born in 1843 as the youngest son of Andreas Kalokairinos. Having completed secondary education on the island of Syros, he matriculated at the University of Athens School of Laws and attended for one year, but was forced to abandon his studies after his father fell seriously ill and died. Thereafter his interest turned to his father's estates, which he initially managed together with his brother Lysimachos. Kalokairinos later went into soap manufacture, winning awards at world exhibitions.
Unfortunately, however, his business enterprises were not destined to be successful to the end; in 1895, having taken out numerous loans at exorbitant interest rates and mortgaged all his estates, he was forced to declare bankruptcy and was thus deprived of the right to engage in commerce. In 1903 he decided to resume his legal studies at university, and was later awarded a a degree.
In 1878 his passion for archaeology and classical studies led him to attempt the first systematic excavations at Knossos, which brought the first finds from the Minoan palace to light. These comprised the Kalokairinos private collection, held at the site where the Kalokairinos Mansion (the present-day Historical Museum of Crete) was later built. The finds were destroyed when the first mansion was burnt to the ground during the 1898 riots. In 1869 Minos Kalokairinos married Skevo Kyriazi, with whom he had five children.
East Wing - Grand Staircase
at 6.9km (S)
A large part of the east wing cannot be seen from the Central Court as it is built into the side of the hill on top of which lies the rest of the Palace. It is one of the most interesting parts of the palace because two storeys are preserved below the level of the Central Court. Today, a large part of it has been reconstructed in concrete.
The storeys are connected with one another by means of a system of stairs known as the "Grand Staircase". The staircase was found during the excavation in its original position. There is a total of four flights of stairs, two for each storey. The two lower flights are preserved as they were found. The steps are broad and deep, with a gentle incline that makes for an easy ascent. The staircase is lit by a large light-well and was surrounded by a colonnade of wooden columns.
The Grand Staircase
The Grand Staircase
The Grand Staircase & Hall of Colonades - First floor
The Grand Staircase & Hall of Colonades - Ground floor
A series of corridors, spacious halls and small rooms is connected to the Grand Staircase. Evans, who believed that the Palace was the seat of the king of Knossos, hypnothesized that the residential quarters of the Royal family lay in this part of the site.
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