Archeological Museum of Heraklion
When to go?
The museum and the Palace of Knossos ware a highlight of Crete's tourism industry and therefore the two places are the most visited places on the island.
If you want to avoid crowded places and waiting in line, we suggest you go to the museum in the morning, as all tourist busses will have their first stop at the Palace of Knossos - the second best time would be after 5 am in the afternoon. Then step out of the museum and take bus line 2 to Knossos for EUR 1,70 and enjoy the excavations.
t may be hotter than in the morning, so it is up to you to decide if you prefer a little more temperature over waiting in line in the same heat, but with many more people.
This museums harbors the treasures of the Ancient Minoan culture. There is no place on earth where you can learn and marvel more about the achievements in art and technology of Europe's first advanced culture. The museum features the time from the earliest neolithic settlements until the late Roman period and features some outstanding artifacts, some of them world-reknowned.
Highlights of the museum:
- Phaistos Disc
- Snake Goddess
- Malia Pendant
- Rythion in form of a bull
- Frescoes form the Palace of Knossos (eg. bull leaper)
The most prominent artifact probably is the Phaistos Disc, a disk of fired clay with mysterious signs and symbols that resemble hieroglyphic writing. It's really a mystery. Some "icons" resemble "Linear A" and "Linear B" writing, both pre-greek writing system, but then, there are other hieroglyphs that nobody can explain. Back then, scholars believed the disc to be a sophisticated forgery, but these days, most scholars consider the disc authentic.
Another interesting find is the Snake Goddess and her "daughter", not resembling depictions of the Greek gods and goddesses we all know well. Scholars believe that Bronze Age Minoans worshipped a mother goddess who lost significance over the centuries. But that is mostly speculation as we have no clue of the Minoan religion.
Minoan culture is associated with bulls since Bronze Age. Bulls and symbols like bull horns can be found everywhere all over Crete and the Minotaur, half human, half bull became a household name since Renaissance times in Euorpe. With bull leaping, the Minoans practiced a sport that may have been similar to Spanish bullfighting. So it's no wonder, that depictions of bulls became a favorite design for household items, like the rython (drinking vessel) found in Knossos.
The Malia Pendant shows how sophisticated Minoan craftsmen were. It displays bees or wasps, maybe because honey was - and still is - an important product of Crete. It represents the finest peace of Minoan jewellery and craftsmanship up to this day.
And last but not least, the frescoes from the Palace of Knossows are exhibited at the Archeological Museum of Heraklion. In contrast to the reconstructions of Sir Arthur Evans, the partly-restored frescoes are true to their original.