Palace of Malia

Stroll around one of the best-preserved Minoan palaces in the country and learn how this ancient civilization lived.

See the Palace of Malia’s famous Kernos construction and climb the preserved Grand Staircase. Hear about rituals and ceremonies that took place at the altar and see storage rooms where the ancient Minoans kept their supplies. Learn about this fascinating civilization in the information center. Find out about priceless treasures unearthed in archaeological digs.

The Palace of Malia is the third-largest Minoan palace on Crete. It is said to have been the palace of Sarpedon, the brother of King Minos. Archaeologists have dated the original building back to 1900 B.C., though it was destroyed around 1650 B.C. Most of what you see today are parts of the second palace. This was destroyed around 1450 B.C., most likely in an earthquake, but much of it remains extremely well preserved. Walk around the grounds for a fascinating insight into Minoan culture.

Enter via the eastern gate; the large space of a central courtyard is before you. To your left are the Royal Treasury and the Magazines (storage rooms). Take a look around and note the large clay pots or “pithos,” which were used to store essential supplies such as olive oil or grain. Wander through the central courtyard where you’ll see paving stones that Minoans walked on thousands of years ago.

Make your way past the altar and imagine the ritual sacrifices and ceremonies that took place here. Moving west, don’t miss the Palace of Malia’s most famous monument, the Kernos of Malia. This is a circular stone construction with a hole in the middle. Archaeologists believe this was used to perform a ritual where the first harvests were given to the gods.

A short walk north of the palace you’ll find the necropolis where the Minoans buried their dead. Excavations here have uncovered many treasures, including the famous golden bee pendant, now housed in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.

The Palace of Malia is located 22 miles (37 kilometers) east of Heraklion. Opening hours vary depending on the time of year, so check locally before making the trip here. There is a small charge for entry.

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