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You are in:  Top  →  Europe  →  GREECE  →  Crete  →  HERAKLION  →  Phaestos


Phaestos (Festos) is the second major Minoan Palace in Crete after Knossos in the fertile plain of Messara.
Phaestos View

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Like Knossos, Phaestos was the centre of religious and economic activities.

The palace has been excavated by Italian Archaeologists. Its importance lies not only in its size but also in the fact that we have there a clear stratigraphical sequence of two successive palaces. This is of great consequence for our understanding of Minoan history and for our reconstruction of the major phases of Minoan civilization.

We know that there were two palace periods. The period of the old palaces (c.1900-1700 BC) and the period of the new palaces (c 1650-1400 BC). Earthquakes destroyed the old palaces and that made the Cretans to rebuild them on an even grander scale.

Although such early palaces existed also at Knossos, Malia and Zakros, it is mostly at Phaestos that we have their visible remains. One can easily observe the existence of the two different Palaces built one on top of the ruins of the previous.

A destructive earthquake around 1700 BC brought the old palace to an end. Much of the palace has been destroyed, particularly on its south side where it has been eroded away. It was a complex structure with five different, independent but still coordinated units that had separate functions. Included were magazines and workshops indicating its role as industrial and trade centre.

The connection between economy and religion is evident in all the Palaces and all the aspects of Minoan life. This is understandable only if one considers the difference in mentality from our own. Although trade was widely practiced, people depended mainly on agriculture, the foundation of the economy. Religion was also very important. The king or priest has to mediate between people and the Gods for the good harvest. For this reason it is perhaps more accurate to view the palaces as economic and cult centres than private dwellings to the hypothetical Queen or the King.

A visit to Phaestos must be combined with a visit to the Iraklion Archaeological Museum where all the items, including the "Disk of Phaestos", found on the site, are on display.

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