Minoan Sites

For people who are keen to explore those Minoan sites that still survive today - or want to find the best places to view Minoan history - our interactive Minoan sites map and sites list can provide an excellent starting point.

There’s an initial selection of interesting Minoan sites and Minoan ruins and you can plan some fantastic things to see on your travels. Once you’ve explored the list of Minoan sites and selected those you wish to visit you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook. This indispensible holiday guide will help you make the most of your time exploring Minoan ruins.

Our database of Minoan historic places is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other Minoan sites, remains or ruins, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

Minoan Period: Site Index

Photo by BluEyedA73 (cc)

Akrotiri

Akrotiri is a beautifully preserved ancient site in Santorini, famed for its incredible frescos and its connection with the Minoans.

DID YOU KNOW?

Akrotiri is a beautifully preserved ancient site in Santorini, famed for its incredible frescos and its connection with the Minoans.

In fact, Akrotiri was inhabited as early as the 4th millennium BC - some say earlier - during the late Neolithic period. It would then thrive and grow into a larger settlement measuring up to 20 hectares in the next millennium, during the Bronze Age.

Increasingly frequent earthquakes in the area meant that Akrotiri was finally abandoned, some say in the 17th century BC, but it was a volcanic eruption that truly ended the tale of this magnificent place.

Today, the stunning ruins of Akrotiri now stand in testament of the sophisticated urban settlement which once existed there. The buildings are not only multi-storey, many of them contain vivid frescoes of various themes. This excellent state of preservation has drawn parallels with another famously volcanically preserved site, earning it the moniker of the "Minoan Pompeii".

Yet, Akrotiri has another claim to fame. It is generally considered that Akrotiri was linked with Knossos and would have been a Minoan site. However, some have gone further, claiming that it was the lost city of Atlantis. This site also features as one of our Top 10 tourist attractions in Greece.

Photo by Shadowgate (cc)

Heraklion Archaeological Museum

The Heraklion Archaeological Museum explores the ancient history of Crete with exhibitions looking at the Minoan period.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is a museum dedicated to Crete’s ancient past, spanning the time from the Neolithic period to the Roman period, being a period of around 5,500 years.

The highlight of the Heraklion Archaeological Museum is possibly its extensive Minoan collection, being one of the most comprehensive in the world and including everything from sarcophagi to wall art. The Minoan culture is specifically attributed to the island of Crete and immediately preceded the Mycenaean period.

Spread over twenty rooms, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum houses a myriad of archaeological artefacts excavated around Crete, including from Knossos.

Knossos

Probably the most famous surviving Minoan site, Knossos is an archaeological site which was once a thriving city at the centre of the Minoan civilisation.

DID YOU KNOW?

Knossos or ‘ko-no-so’ was an important ancient site found on the outskirts of the modern city of Heraklion in Crete. It is believed that Knossos was first established a place of settlement in Neolithic times in around 7000 BC and then continuously inhabited until the Ancient Roman period.

Knossos reached its peak in the period from the 19th to the 14th centuries BC, as the capital of the Minoan civillisation. It was at this time that the majority of its incredible buildings, the remains of which can be seen today, were constructed, although it suffered large-scale destruction sometime between 1500 and 450 BC. It was later populated by the Mycenaeans, experienced a resurgence in the Hellenistic period and was occupied by the Romans in 67 BC.

In addition to being a prosperous city, Knossos was also been the setting for many mythical stories, including those of the Minotaur, Ikaros and Daidalos.

Excavated and vastly reconstructed  in the nineteenth century by archaeologist Arthur Evans, Knossos has revealed a wealth of ancient treasures, not least of which are its many fascinating ruins. The most famous of these is the Knossos Palace, also known as the Labyrinth for its incredible maze of passageways and rooms.

Believed to date back to 2000 to 1350 BC, Knossos Palace is thought to have been the home of King Minos, an iconic monarch of the island of Crete who legend says was the son of the deities Europa and Zeus. The Palace of Knossos contains a myriad of rooms, including banqueting halls, religious shrines and even a throne room, all centred on a courtyard.

Other important buildings at Knossos include the 14th century BC Royal Villa with its pillar crypt, the Little Palace, believed to date back to the 17th century BC, the ornately decorated House of Frescos and the Villa of Dionysos, a 2nd century BC house from the Roman period.

The drainage system at Knossos is also fascinating in its own right, indicating an incredible level of sophistication.

The great thing about Knossos is that its reconstruction has meant that it's easy to identify the original use of each part of the site. However, it's best to take a guidebook, a map or even a guide if you want a better idea of the site as a whole, particularly as it is indeed a labyrinth. This site also features as one of our  top ten tourist attractions of Greece.