The Minoan Villa of


Ancient Amnisos
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At the east side of the long Karteros bay there is the small hill of Paleochora that hosted the Minoan settlement of Amnissos. The name is mentioned as a-mi-mi-so in the Linear B tablets. Amnisos findings include a Minoan harbor, several buildings and an outdoor archaic sanctuary, where Zeus was worshiped. The habitation Amnisos started in the 19th century BC.

According to mythology, while Zeus was still a newborn baby, he had to be carried into a cave in order to hide from his father, Cronus. But on the way and as he was above Amnisos, he dropped his navel here and the area was called Navel Valley in the ancient times!

The Mansion of the Lilies

At the eastern side of the hill, next to the parking lot of the beach, there is located a Minoan mansion of 16th century BC with murals depicting floral motifs and blooming lilies (hence the name). It seems to have housed a very important person, maybe King Minos on his holiday. This villa housed a hall, bathroom, sanctum, kitchen and stone paved areas.

The murals with the lilies probably depict a sacred garden and are the main indication that there were Minoan artificial gardens. This follows from the lilies drawn in jagged frames, which probably are artificial ponds. Such ponds are painted in many Egyptian representations of luxurious gardens.

The mansion was destroyed by fire in the 15th century BC, but was abandoned during the 12th century BC. The building was excavated in 1932 by Prof Spiros Marinatos, but unfortunately was severely damages by the German troops during the Second World War.

The sanctuary of Zeus Thenatas

West of Paleochora hill, you will meet the ruins of one of the largest temples of ancient Crete, the Temple of Zeus Thenatas. The temple was built in the 7th century BC and operated till the second century AD. Around the temple you well see a strong wall with boulders, a part of which is on the sandy beach. Inside the temple someone can still discern a circular altar.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Ancient mansion, Sanctuary
  • Peak Period: Minoan Era (3000 BC-1200 BC)
  • Accessibility: Paved road

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