Sunday, January 8, 2012

Knossos

When you think about Europe you often think about old things.  Especially when you grow up in the U.S. and so many of our historic sights are so young.  But you don't know old in Europe if you haven't been to Crete.  And Knossos is the most important ancient sight on the island.  The original palace built at this location was completed around 4000 B.C.  (That is not a typo.)  The new palace built at this location was completed around 2000 B.C.  That is the new palace!

The sight was somewhat rebuilt in the first quarter of the 20th century by Sir Arthur Evans, so it now provides a better idea of what it looked like than other palaces on the island (I'll have photos of one of those later this week).  The columns in these photos that are painted red or black are modern construction -- the original palace would have had wooden columns where these have been placed.  All the frescoes are copies -- the originals are in Iraklion (we saw a few, so you'll get pictures of those in a later entry also). 

There are theories that this palace was home to the possibly mythical Cretan Labyrinth. There isn't any proof of that, but this is the palace written of in Homer's Iliad.

Definitely the most important thing this palace should be remembered for is running water. It is home to the world's oldest indoor toilet.

This was one of the first times we had been confronted by a number of other tourists.  Cruise ships that dock in Iraklion take their customers to see this sight.  Thus, we had to dodge large tour groups.  Considering we had basically had the entire island to ourselves, we couldn't complain that much.

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The Throne Room (remember these frescoes are copies).
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This palace is sometimes called the Palace of the Double Axes, which this sculpture symbolizes.

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It is thought that this might be were religious ceremonies were held.

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Original pipes for the running water!

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Have I mentioned the bull leaping yet? Apparently this was a major pastime for the Minoans and men and women participated.

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Pretty gypsum is used for a lot of the stone work.

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And a random peacock in the yard outside of the sight.

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"Out in the dark blue sea there lies a land called Crete, a rich and lovely land, washed by the waves on every side..." Homer