On top of a strategic ridge overlooking the fertile Messara Plain to the east, the largest plain in Crete, and Mount Ida to the north, the sacred mountain of Crete, lies the Minoan Palace of Phaistos. The wealthiest and most powerful city-state in southern Crete, Phaistos was an administrative and religious center with the ancient ports of Matala and Kommos to the southwest under its control. It is also considered to be the birthplace of Epimenides, one of the seven wise men of the ancient world, while according to mythology the Minoan Palace of Phaistos was the residence of king Radamanthys, brother of the legendary king Minos.
Archaeological research indicates that Phaistos was inhabited from about as early as 4.000 BC (Neolithic period), while at its peak the Minoan City covered quite a considerable area around the palatial complex. The Minoan Palace of Phaistos was first built about 2.000 BC and it saw great turbulence throughout its history, since it suffered and survived major natural disasters.
First it was struck by an earthquake circa 1700 BC, but was soon after rebuilt on top of the ruins of the old one, marking a new era during which the New Palace seems to have lost its administrative primacy to the nearby settlement of Agia Triada, while maintaining its role as the cultural and religious center of southern Crete. Then, at approximately 1.500 BC, a massive volcanic eruption, perhaps one of the largest ever witnessed by mankind, took place at Thera, some 100km north of Crete, and destroyed the Minoan Palace of Phaistos, as well as that of Knossos, marking the decline of the Minoan Civilization. The Palace was abandoned thereafter, while the city of Phaistos managed to recover and continued to prosper until about the middle of the second century BC, when it was finally destroyed by the neighbouring city of Gortys, which had already been dominated by the Romans.
Amongst the findings brought to light from the Minoan Palace of Phaistos is the Phaistos disc, one of world’s greatest archaeological mysteries, written in Linear A and kept in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, still undeciphered.
Considered to be the finest and most characteristic Minoan palace discovered, visitors at the Minoan Palace of Phaistos will have the chance to admire its spectacular typical Minoan architectural construction, with minimum restoration interventions spoiling the magic, in the most magnificent natural surrounding.