This morning I head over to Lions Square again for breakfast. This time at Phyllo Sophies, where I have another bougatsa – this time it’s cream filled.
You can’t really go wrong with any kind of bougatsa!
Today I will be exploring Knossos, the largest Bronze Age archeological site on Crete, also known as Europe’s oldest city. It’s very easy to take the public bus here from Heraklion, and it only takes around 20 minutes. When I arrive, there is no lineup for entry but it is filling up fast. I decide not to hire a guide; I’ll just read the signage within the complex. I only spend around an hour exploring; it’s major hot today and there’s not a lot of shade. I won’t get into all of the history of the site, but the excavations have led to the uncovering of features from many different centuries. They’ve restored some areas as best they could but it’s not exact. Anyway, let’s wander around….
I go the opposite way of everyone else to avoid the larger groups. First stop is the famous North Pillar Hall Entrance. If you see any pics of Knossos, it’s likely this structure.
Inside is a colorful fresco of a bull with golden horns.
Behind this is the North Lustral Basin, possibly used for purification ceremonies.
It could have been filled with water, but there is no drainage system. Hmmmmm. I wander into the giant central court and stand in line(seriously!) to see the Throne Room.
This is not fun because there is zero shade here and I can feel the sun cooking every inch of my exposed skin. Sidenote: I am wearing sunscreen but I’ve also been taking astaxanthin – it’s a powerful antioxidant, 6000x’s stronger than vitamin c and I found that my skin didn’t burn as easily and if I did get a burn, my skin recovered quickly. I recommend looking into it to see if it’s right for you!
I finally make it into the Throne Room; there is a small stone seat found here, probably belonging to a woman. And repainted frescoes. It’s cool, but you kind of think, ummm I waited in line for 20 minutes for this? Haha
Here are some views from the top of the Throne Room
In the middle of the Central Court is the Grand Staircase.
Now over to the South End, and the South Propylaeum which was probably used as a storage area. Not easy to get a photo here without a shit ton of people in it. Haha
It’s been restored with the cup-bearer fresco on the wall.
Just a bit farther is the Corridor of Processions where you’ll find a copy of the Prince of the Lilies fresco.
The original is in the museum which I will visit later today.
From here you can see the South House down below.
And now I’ve seen everything I need to see, so it’s time to hop back on the bus to Heraklion. And for a comfortable ride home, I get to have 2 older local men staring at me the whole time. Haha. When I arrive, I head over to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. I wasn’t sure if I was going to come here, but it was only an extra couple of Euros on top of my Knossos ticket. SO glad I did – this is by far my favorite museum in Greece. Most of the artifacts found here are from Knossos or other Minoan sites in Crete. So here’s a quick tour. First up, some cool pottery representing Neolithic life and the early Bronze Age. So much pottery.
Here is the Draughtboard, a board game that represents the high living in the palace since it’s made of expensive materials
The next rooms highlight the consolidation of palatial systems. The big draw here is The Phaistos Disc.
Experts are not sure what it means but it could be a hymn or text of magic character.
This next room is about daily life and sports. The Bull-Leaping Fresco, depicting how the sport was performed.
How cute is this – The Swing. But also a bit creepy.
The next rooms are about religions. This amazing bull’s head was used as a drinking vessel.
The very significant Snake Goddesses, known as cult objects and possibly representing fertility.
The Poppy Goddess, part of the collection of terracotta figurines found at Gazi. She represents healing and relieving pain.
This room features finds from cemeteries. The Hagia Triada sarcophagus, a final resting place of an important ruler.
Up to the second floor, which holds all of the frescoes. Here is the original Prince of the Lilies I mentioned earlier.
La Parisienne, who was probably a leading priestess.
The Blue Boy – the first fresco restoration.
And now I end my visit in the Sculpture Room.
On my way back to the hotel, I make a stop at the Agios Minas Cathedral – it’s one of the biggest in Greece and very stunning to observe.
Check out what’s inside – the detail is amazing.
I’m so hungry at this point and luckily there is a fast-food joint called Burger House nearby. It’s decent. I go back to the hotel to relax and then out again to the market to finish up my souvenir shopping. I haven’t caught the sunset here in Heraklion yet, so I walk back to the Old Harbor and Koules Fortress and settle in for nature’s show.
The central squares of Heraklion are jumping with action tonight so I sit outside on the patio at Uncle Thymios.
They serve a pretty awesome pizza gyro and ice-cold beers.
For dessert, I try some mango gelato from Hans and Gretel.
I walk around for a bit, soaking up the atmosphere of buskers singing in the square and a shadow puppet show.
I’m so glad I stumble upon this – I bought one of these puppets in Athens. They’re called Karagiozis; the characters are meant to be totally ridiculous and humorous.
I head back to El Greco, and that concludes my final night in Heraklion…..