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The open peristyle court was one of the most elegant inner courtyards of the New Palace. It consisted of an impressive peristyle with four columns on each side supporting the corresponding colonnades, while the central area remained open. The same construction appears to have continued on the upper floor, with a second row of columns.
The peristyle court was a focal point of the Palace with access routes leading from here to the "Royal Apartments", the Propylaea and the Central Court.
The ruins visible on a lower level in the centre of the peristyle belong to a house of the Prepalatial settlement (3200-1900 BC).
The northernmost of the "Royal Apartments" has been identified as the King's Megaron and bears a striking resemblance to the corresponding "King's Megaron" at the Palace of Knossos. It consists of a spacious central hall with impressive polythyra (pier - and - door partitions) on the north and east sides. The east polythyron communicates with a second room with two columns, which opens onto a large light-well to the east. The gypsum slab flooring with red plaster filling, the interstices, gave the whole complex a particularly sumptuous air.
The north side of both rooms opens onto a spacious colonnade with columns set far apart, offering a magnificent view of Mount Psiloritis and the sacred Kamares Cave. A long corridor at the back of the polythyron room leads to the impressive "Lustra1 Basin" of the Megaron. The whole apartment was decorated with colourful wall paintings depicting linear and plant motifs.
The southernmost of the "Royal Apartments" ofPhaistos has been identified as the Queen'sMegaron. It consists of a beautiful, spacioushall with a double colonnade opening ontoa light-well. The floors are paved with gypsum slabswith red plaster filling the interstices. Gypsumwas also widely used for the benches runningaround the walls of the Megaron and the facingof the lower part of the walls. The upper walls aredecorated with frescoes depicting plant motifs. Twobeautiful rhyta (libation vessels) were found here: one is decorated with the cult symbols of thedouble axe and sacral knot, while the other bears areed pattern.
The two staircases to west and north led to the upper floorof the Megaron and the peristyle, where one of the mainentrances to the "Royal Apartments" was located.
The complex of four rooms on the northeast edge of the Palace does not belong to the Old Palace, although it directly adjoins it. In the westernmost building is an elongated rectangular room with partitions of vertical clay slabs. Similar "cists" in the Palaces of Knossos and Zakros were used to store valuable ritual vessels. Here they were found empty. Next door, in the narrow rectangular room to the southeast, was found a clay tablet inscribed in Linear A and the famous "Phaistos Disc" bearing hieroglyphic writing. The building was therefore named the Palace "Archive"
The building east of the Archive is thought to be a shrine or the archivist's residence, while the easternmost building is known as the "Potter's Workshop" because a large number of unfinished pots were found there. The intermediate building has an impressive peristyle of alternating pillars and columns. A staircase on the south side of the peristyle building connects the whole complex to the NE entrance to the Palace, which stood in this spot.
East Court and the workshop complex
The east part of the North Wing forms the workshop area of the Palace. It consists of the East Court and a complex of small rooms which are believed to be the workshops of the New Palace (1700-1450 BC). Approximately in the centre of the court are the ruins of a horseshoe-shaped kiln. The elongated rectangular building with 6 rooms on the west side of the court appears to have been used for the workshops of the kiln craftsmen.
The square room on the north side of the court was the gatehouse of the northeast entrance to the Palace. It has gypsum slab flooring and benches around the walls. Behind it is a long corridor leading to the inner courtyard of the North Wing and thence to the "Royal Apartments"
Agios Georgios Phalandras
The church of Agios Georgios (St. George GR: Αγιος Γεώργιος) Phalandras stands a little to the south from the Palace of Phaistos on the road to Agios Ioannis village. The church was the monastery church of the Orthodox male monastery of the same name, dated to the early Venetian period (16th century), which operated normally until its dissolution in 1821. The ruins of the fortified building complex around the church were still visible until the first decades of the 20th century.
West court - West facade
The court is crossed by the so-called "Processional Causeways", which stand out from the rest of the paving and intersect each other. One idea is that processions paraded along them during ceremonies.
The West Facade of the Palace rises up along one side. The facade is constructed of massive gypsum blocks (orthostats) set on a plinth. The facade is indented or protrudes corresponding to the interior arrangement of space.
In front of the West Façade, two bases can be seen, thought to belong to stone-built altars. Settlement remains of the Neolithic (6700 - 3200 B.C.) and pre-palatial (3200 - 1900 B.C.) periods have been found beneath the level of the "West Court".
Three large pits, known as "kouloures" (rings), with stone-lined walls were built in the West Court during the Old Palace period (1900-1700B.C.). The excavation workmen gave them their name and A. Evans kept it.
The function of the circular pits is not clear. They have been interpreted as rubbish dumps either for all the refuse from the Palace or just the left-overs from sacred offerings. Support has also been given to the idea that they were storing grain.
In two of them, it is possible to see the remains of houses of the Pre Palatial period (3200-1900 B.C.). In the New Palace period (1700-1450 B.C.),the "kouloures" were covered over and out of use.
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
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
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
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.
North of the South Propylaeum, at a lower level there is the start of the corridor that joins eighteen long and narrow storerooms, covering an area of 1300 sq.m.
In the floor of both the storerooms and corridor, there are ninety three rectangular cists, the so called "Kasellas". From the finds it appears they were used for keeping safe precious equipment and vases. There are also even larger cists in the corridor, internally lined, perhaps to hold liquids.
The pithoi (large storage jars) of the "West Magazines" bear witness to the wealth of the palace. The remains of some 150 pithoi were found, although there is room for about 400. Their contents are unknown, although they could have oil, wine, pulses, etc.
At different points of the magazine, clay tablets came to light in the Linear B script with records of an economic character. At the north end of the corridor, a large number of older clay seal impressions and clay tablets in the Cretan Hieroglyphic script were discovered.
The Throne Room
The antechamber of a complex of rooms that Evans named the "Throne Room".
Its name comes from the stone seat found in the room behind the antechamber, and between them were discovered traces of a burnt wooden construction. Today, a wooden seat has been placed here which is a copy of the stone one in the neighbouring chamber. After the antechamber is the central room of the complex. Right and left of the stone seat are yet more stone benches.
Pieces of fresco depicting plants and griffins, mythical beasts with a lion's body and bird's head were found in the same room. The restored fresco is in Heraklion Museum. Evans put a copy in its place. Stone vases for oil, often connected with rituals, were found on the floor. The stone basin you see was actually found in a neighbouring corridor and placed here. To the left, a low partition wall with a purification ceremonies and therefore called them "Lustral Basins".
The central room connects at the back with a series of small, dark rooms which were lit by lamps, as the finds illustrate.
The function of the complex is difficult to determine. Evans believed that the rooms were used for ceremonies with the main figure being the king of Knossos in his religious capacity. However, it seems unlikely to have been a Throne Room in the modern sense of the word.
The Tripartite Shrine
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
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
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
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.
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.
Villa Ariadne was built at Knossos, Crete, by Sir Arthur Evans soon after he discovered the Minoan palace, when the site was his own private property. The villa became home, in turn, to John Pendlebury, who used it as a base for his excavations at Knossos and his explorations of the island. After Pendlebury's death at the hands of invading German paratroopers, the Villa Ariadne was taken over by General Karl Kreipe, who was living there when he was kidnapped by Patrick Leigh Fermor and his team.
Ariadne villa is surrounded by the only existing Greek Edwardian garden, a large oasis of Cretan and other flora and shrubs in specific formations. The garden has been fully studied by the British School of Archaeology with the participation of special architects and agronomists from Heraklion.
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