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Palace of Phaistos
Palace of Phaistos Review
On a steep hill overlooking olive groves and the sea on one side, and high mountain peaks on the other, Phaistos is the site of the second largest and greatest Minoan palaces and the center of Minoan culture in southern Crete. Unlike Knossos, Phaistos has not been reconstructed, though the copious ruins are richly evocative. The palace was built around 1900 BC and rebuilt after a disastrous earthquake around 1650 BC. It was burned and abandoned in the wave of destruction that swept across the island around 1450 BC, though Greeks continued to inhabit the city until the 2nd century BC, when it was eclipsed by Roman Gortyna.
You enter the site by descending a flight of steps leading into the west court, then climb a grand staircase. From here you pass through the Propylon porch into a light well and descend a narrow staircase into the central court. Much of the southern and eastern sections of the palace have eroded away. But there are large pithoi still in place in the old storerooms. On the north side of the court the recesses of an elaborate doorway bear a rare trace: red paint in a diamond pattern on a white ground. A passage from the doorway leads to the north court and the northern domestic apartments, now roofed and fenced off. The Phaistos Disk was found in 1903 in a chest made of mud brick at the northeast edge of the site and is now on display at the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion. East of the central court are the palace workshops, with a metalworking furnace fenced off. South of the workshops lie the southern domestic apartments, including a clay bath. From there, you have a memorable view across the Messara plain.
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