The Archaeological Museum is located much in the center of Heraklion: it is one of the most important Archaeological Museums of the world, thanks to its unrivalled collection of artifacts from the Bronze-age Minoan culture – the first of note on what is now European soil. The exhibits cover a period of ten millennia, from the Neolithic era until late Roman times.
The museum, after a major renovation and expansion, is now fully open to the public (May 2014), with 24 rooms of exhibits on display.
A tour would start on the Ground floor: the halls are dedicated to the Neolithic and Minoan cultures. Organized chronologically, covering all phases of the Minoan civilization, the rooms channel you from the Pre-palatial period (3000 - 1900 BC), through three phases of Palaces, down to the Post-palatial era (1350 - 1000 BC).
The introductory texts in each room explain the key features of each period – and so the evolution of culture. In these halls the visitor is held entranced by objects of Minoan art and craft: jewelry and seals, pottery and metalwork, ivory, faience and glass. Items of the daily life, items used in religious worship, items from the burial chamber. Through further and often thematic texts are clarified the practices and ways they organized their economic, religious and social life. Among the exhibits are some of the most famous Minoan icons: such as the Snake Goddess, the Phaistos Disk, the Ring of Minos and the Mallia wasp (or bee) pendant. And many, many more!
Visitors to the museum can admire unique artifacts recovered from the excavations at the Palaces of Knossos, Phaistos, Aghia Triadha, Malia and Zakros – let alone the numerous other major centers and sites of Minoan Crete.
Ascending next to the First floor galleries, we pass through the hall hung with Minoan frescoes. Here among others we see the Prince of the Lilies, the Ladies in Blue, the Saffron Gatherer, etc.. Behind are yet other rooms dedicated to finds from the Subminoan and Early Iron Age periods (Proto- and Geometric) and Archaic times, which also come from the island of Crete. Many of these are exhibited for the first time.
The collections of the first floor are completed with exhibits of the Classical and Hellenistic years.
Returning to the Ground floor, do visit the hall with sculptures – ranging from the Archaic, through Classical down to the Roman period. Whole temple facades are visible alongside smaller sculptures, with statues of above life-size, and portraits too.
The original museum building was constructed between 1937 and 1940 to designs drawn up by the architect Patroklos Karantinou, and refurbished in the post-war years. This present make-over greatly increases the floor-space available, delivering a museum worthy of the 21st century.
The site itself was a venerable one long ago too: here during the Venetian era was the important Roman Catholic monastery of St. Francis. Many notable Venetian families had their tombs here, let alone the many less-exalted who died in the 21-year long Ottoman siege. The monastery itself was destroyed by an earthquake in 1856.
- Tips, Suggestions, Iseful info
- History, Culture
- What to do (Activities)
- What to see (Culture, Nature)
- location Xanthoudidou & Hadjidaki Street, 71202, Heraklio, Heraklio
- museum type Archaeological
- exhibits Neolithic era - late Roman times
- type Museum
- relevant routes & paths
Monday & Sunday & Holidays: 09:00-16:00
Tel: (+30) 2810279000, (+30)2810279086, (+30)2810279087