Crete is one of the largest and the most populous islands of Greece and was once the center of the Minoan civilization (c. 2700–1420 BC), which is currently regarded as the earliest recorded civilization in Europe. The Knossos remains remind us the Minoan civilization of the Bronze age that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BCE to the 15th century BCE. During the archaeological excavation works on the fields of Crete, many ancient Roman coins and other artifcats were discovered and the most of them were inscribed with Knosion or Knos on the obverse. Therefore the name Knossos survives from ancient Greek references to the major city of Crete and the Knossos remains on Crete are considered as the oldest city of Europe.
The major and the most significant excavation work was executed by Arthur Evans in the earliest years of the 20th century. The picture of the palace of Knossos was brought first time in the history before the world which was undoubtedly the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. According to the famous Greek legend, the construction of the Palace of Minos or the Palace of Knossos was started around 2000 B.C as the residence of the King Minos. This majestic palace had many enterances and the main purpose was to build a maze and labyrinth structure where the King could retain his son, the Minotaur.
In fact, the palace of Knossos or the palace of Minos of Crete was not simply a palace but was really a complex. There were the residencies of the royal family and the most of the structures, however, were designed as a civic, religious and economic center. The complex was constructed ultimately around a raised Central Court on the top of Kephala Hill. The palace has an interesting layout – the original plan can no longer be seen due to the subsequent modifications. The 1,300 rooms are connected with corridors of varying sizes and direction, which differ from other contemporaneous palaces that connected the rooms via several main hallways. The 6 acres (24,000 m2) of the palace included a theater, a main entrance on each of its four cardinal faces, and extensive storerooms (also called magazines). Within the storerooms were large clay containers that held oil, grains, dried fish, beans, and olives. Many of the items were processed at the palace, which had grain mills, oil presses, and wine presses. Beneath the pithoi were stone holes that were used to store more valuable objects, such as gold. The palace used advanced architectural techniques: for example, part of it was built up to five storeys high.
The palace also includes the Minoan column, a structure notably different from other Greek columns. Unlike the stone columns that are characteristic of other Greek architecture, the Minoan column was constructed from the trunk of a cypress tree, common to the Mediterranean. While most Greek columns are smaller at the top and wider at the bottom to create the illusion of greater height, the Minoan columns are smaller at the bottom and wider at the top, a result of inverting the cypress trunk to prevent sprouting once in place.The columns at the Palace of Minos were painted red and mounted on stone bases with round, pillow-like capitals.
The palace at Knossos was a place of high color, as were Greek buildings in the classical period, and as are Greek buildings today. In the EM Period, the walls and pavements were coated with a pale red derived from red ochre. In addition to the background coloring, the walls displayed fresco panel murals, entirely of red.
The centerpiece of the “Minoan” palace was the so-called Throne Room or Little Throne Room,dated to LM II. This chamber has an alabaster seat identified by Evans as a “throne” built into the north wall. On three sides of the room are gypsum benches. A sort of tub area is opposite the throne, behind the benches, termed a lustral basin, which means that Evans and his team saw it as a place for ceremonial purification. The room was accessed from an anteroom through two double doors. The anteroom as connected to the central court, which was four broad steps up through four doors. The anteroom had gypsum benches also, with carbonized remains between two of them thought to possibly be a wooden throne. Both rooms are located in the ceremonial complex on the west of the central court.
During the Neo-Palatial period [1700-1450 BC], the Palace of Minos covered nearly 22,000 square meters (about 5.4 acres) and contained storage rooms, living quarters, religious areas, and banquet rooms. What appears to be a jumble of rooms connected by narrow passageways probably gave rise to the myth of the Labyrinth; the structure itself was built of a complex of dressed masonry and clay-packed rubble, and then half-timbered. Columns of the Knossos remains on Crete were many and varied in the Minoan tradition, and the walls of the oldest city of Europe were highly decorated with frescoes.