This excursion takes you right to the heart of Minoan Crete. The Palace of Knossos , the largest and most imposing of the Minoan civilisation, was discovered at the very end of the nineteenth century by the English archaeologist
Sir Arthur Evans. It proved to be an exceedingly beautiful and complex building, leading to the theory that it is at the origin of the myth of the labyrinth and the minotaur. It is thought to have been the seat of the legendary King Minos as well as a major religious centre. The ruins have been partially restored to give you a good impression of what it may have been like in its heyday and the architecture can be seen to be very advanced for its time (it dates from the Bronze Age, around 1700BC), with buildings several storeys high, magnificent staircases and sophisticated natural lighting and drainage systems. Some of the huge pithoi (storage jars) which were found on the site can be seen in situ. Most famous of all are the stunning frescoes, reproductions of which adorn some of the walls. The originals can be seen in the archaeological museum in Heraklion. Your visit to this extraordinary site will be enhanced by the professional guide who will bring the building to life for you.
The excavations at Knossos brought to light thousands of artefacts, many of which are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion. The second largest museum in Greece , this is a veritable treasure trove of
Minoan finds from all over Crete . Pottery, stone and ivory carvings, jewellery and many other objects all testify to the Minoans' great love of beauty, life and nature. The delicacy of the pottery decorations, the intricacy of the metal work, the artistry evident in the minuscule carved sealstones are all quite breathtaking. You will see some very well known pieces, for example the snake goddesses, the handsome bull's head rhyton and the graceful ivory acrobat. Your guide will lead you around the museum's awe-inspiring collection to help bring into focus the artistic and technical achievements of this ancient people.
After these two major visits, you will have free time in the city of Heraklion to enjoy lunch at one of the many tavernas and to explore the streets of the town, before your coach brings you back to your hotel.