Knossos (Heraklion Prefecture)

Knossos, the capital of the Minoan culture, was built 5 km east of Heraklion and inhabited since the Neolithic era.
The first palace of Knossos was built around 1900 B.C. Two hundred years later it was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt, becoming grander and more luxurious. The final catastrophe occurred about 1500-1400 B.C., according to one theory, with the eruption of the volcano in Santorini. Despite this blow, people continued to live there for another fifty years, until a fire swept through the city circa 1400 B.C.
The Minoan palaces were not only the residence of the ruling house, they were also administrative and religious centers for the whole region. The ruins of the capital of the Minoan Kingdom include the palace of King Minos, the homes of the officials and priests who surrounded him (Little Palace, Caravanserai, House of the Frescoes, etc.), the homes of ordinary people and the cemetery.
The palace was a labyrinthine complex built around a central court. This multistoried construction covered an area of 22.000 sq. m. and, in addition to the royal quarters, also contained places of worship, treasuries, workshops and storerooms.