Bronze Age Architecture on Crete
c. 1500-1100 BCE




"The mighty city of Knossos wherein Minos ruled in nine-year periods, he who held converse with mighty Zeus" (Homer, Odyssey 19, 178-179)

Plan of the Palace at Knossos

The Palace of Knossos sprawls in what at first would appear to be an unorganized arrangement of courtyards, rooms, and corridors.

Aerial View

The Palace of Knossos was built over the remains of an earlier Neolithic settlement on a low hilltop. It was not fortified; the Minoans appears to have relied on their strength at sea to protect the island of Crete against invasion.

Artist's Reconstruction

The central point of focus of the palace complex was a rectangular paved court around which the buildings were grouped. The main rooms of the palace were grouped around the court. These included the major living quarters, religious areas, reception rooms, storerooms, etc. Minoan palaces reveal a well-organized system for receiving and distributing local agricultural products.

View south on west side of court

Minoan architecture employs a post-and-lintel system; there are no arches or domes.

View south on west side of court

View south towards the sacred mountain, Mt. Iuktas.

The west side of the court (an artist's reconstruction)

A series of rooms on the west side of the court are considered to be of cult character. A conspicuous feature of this side of the court is the great staircase that gives access to the rooms on the upper floor. A wooden column on a round base stands in the middle of the flight of stairs. To the right, or north, a simple partitioned entrance leads down a short flight of steps to the Throne Room.


Most rooms have low ceilings, stone masonry walls, and short, wooden columns that taper slightly toward a thin square base. Their puffy capitals are called pillow capitals.

North Gateway

The architecture, and the fresco of the bull, were restored by Arthur Evans

The 'Queen's' Hall

The so-called 'Queen's' Hall, comprising a suite of rooms, is spacious and high-ceilinged. The main room, pictured here, is decorated with a frieze of dolphins. Panels decorated with rosettes (or spirals) surrounds the door openings and run across the walls.

Hall of the Double Axes

Restoration of the East End by Piet de Jong under the supervision of Nikolaos Platon.

© Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe