Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Heraklion Archaeological Museum is located at the center of the city. It is by Eleftherias square, just by the street Ikarou and Bofor avenue. It is the most important place to visit in the city of Heraklion, as it is hosting You’ll be sure to receive great knowledge regarding the Cretan ancient history at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.

bull-minoanHeraklion Archaeological Museum: Artifacts spanning 500 years are displayed across 27 different room halls in the building. Things to keep an eye out for are beautiful 3,500-year-old frescoes from Knossos Palace-kingdom of Minoans, and the magnificent ceramic Snake Goddess dating from 1600 BC. Another item of note is the Phaistos Disc, coming from ancient Gortyni, south of Heraklion. Dating from 100 BC it is a clay disc bearing a curious spiral of symbols that has not yet been translated-apocrypto.

Heraklion Archaeological Museum is accessible for people with disability movements, the area is flat and all rooms are connected with doors open that make the visit pleasant and easy. The doors are wide open and personnel make sure the  visitors move easy alone with no difficulties.

How to go there

Heraklion Archaeological Museum has a big parking that hosts the busses which bring visitors, it is not used for small cars. This means you should park in another area rather than driving there.

Crete rent a carYou can hire a car and drive to the nearest parking, park and walk to the museum. Plan your vacation so that you visit both Archaeological museum and the Palace of Knossos, the same day.

By bus the route is easy, as all busses stop to the center-just outside the museum entrance, making it the best way to move-besides it drives to the place of Knossos palace, stopping just outside of it.

By taxi is also easy, the best you can do to win time. Heraklion Archaeological Museum

crete-taxi The first archaeological collection of the city of Heraklion was constituted in 1883 with the initiative of the local Association of Friends of Education, which was headed by the doctor and antiquarian Joseph Chatzidakis. Chatzidakis also obtained permission from the Ottoman authorities to establish the first ‘archaeological service’. The collection was housed inside two rooms in the courtyard of the cathedral of Saint Minas, and by 1900 was enriched with private donations, new acquisitions and finds from the first small excavations and surface surveys. After large-scale excavations began on the island in 1900, the archaeological collection housed the first important finds.

Around that time, under the first Keepers of Antiquities Joseph Chatzidakis and Stephanos Xanthoudidis, the museum was ceded to the newly established Cretan state and was subsequently moved to the barracks – now housing the Region of Crete Service. The road next to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum is called “Xanthoudidou street”!

Heraklion Archaeological Museum: The first display room was built in 1904-1907 over the remains of the famous Venetian monastery of Saint Francis, next to the Hounkiar Djami. The antiquities’ collection was moved there after the addition of a second room in 1908. In 1912, this small building was given a Neoclassical appearance with the construction of a west wing designed by architect Wilhelm Dörpfeld and Panagis Kavvadias, Secretary of the Athens Archaeological Society. The collection continued to be enriched by the finds from the great excavations by Greek and foreign archaeologists.

Heraklion Archaeological Museum: The construction of the current museum began in 1937 on plans by architect Patroklos Karantinos. During the Second World War the museum’s antiquities were at great risk, but they were saved thanks to the exertions of Professor Nikolaos Platon. Platon supervised the re-exhibition of the museum’s treasures and the museum opened its doors to the public in 1952.

Heraklion Archaeological Museum: The display illustrated the chronological development of Minoan civilization, the history of archaeological research and of the great discoveries on Crete during the early twentieth century. In 1962 the museum bought the collection of the Cretan doctor Stylianos Giamalakis, which was displayed on the first floor. In 1964 a new wing was added to the building and the museum’s director Stylianos Alexiou subsequently completed the exhibition.

THE MUSEUM-Heraklion Archaeological Museum

The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is one of the oldest and most important museums in Greece, and among the most famous museums in Europe. It houses representative artifacts from all periods of Cretan prehistory and history, covering a chronological span of over 5,500 years from the Neolithic period to Roman times. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum prides itself for its unique Minoan collection, which includes the masterpieces of Minoan art. It is rightly considered as the Museum of Minoan Culture par excellence.

Located in the town center, it was designed by the architect Patroklos Karantinos and was built between 1935 and 1958 on a site previously occupied by the Venetian monastery of Saint-Francis which was destroyed by earthquake in 1856. The ruins of the monastery are visible in the museum’s garden.

The Museum building is an important example of the Greek Modernist style of architecture. The colors and building materials used, along with the multi colored veined marble, are reminiscent of the painted imitation marble revetments of the Minoan palaces. The two floor building includes extensive exhibition rooms, an audiovisual media room and laboratories. The Museum also has a vestibule, a gift shop leased from the Archaeological Receipts Fund, and a cafeteria in the garden.

The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is a Special Regional Service of the Ministry of Culture. Along with the permanent exhibition, the museum organizes temporary exhibitions in Greece and abroad, creates and implements educational programs, collaborates with scientific and scholarly institutions, and houses a variety of cultural events.

THE EXHIBITION-Heraklion Archaeological Museum

The Heraklion Archaeological Museum was founded in 1908 to house the first collections of Cretan antiquities, which were rapidly enhanced. Its cultural riches cover seven millennia, from the Neolithic period (7000 BC) to Roman times (3rd cent. AD). Following the restoration work of the past few years, completed in May 2014, the exhibition is housed in 27 rooms. The collections are now displayed according to modern museological practices and design, in chronological and thematic units accompanied by audiovisual material and introductory texts.

MINOAN CIVILIZATIONThe exhibition itinerary starts on the ground floor with the Minoan Collection (Rooms I-XII), continues on the first floor with the Minoan Frescoes (Room XIII) and the Historic Period (Rooms XV-XXII), and ends back on the ground floor with the Sculpture Collection (Rooms XXVI-XXVII). The private collections of S. Giamalakis and N. Th. Metaxas are presented in a separate section on the first floor (Room XXIII), as is the reflected influence of the Minoan past of Crete in ancient and modern times (Rooms XIV, XXV).

In the 12 rooms on the ground floor, the exhibits of the glorious Minoan civilisation, the first urban-palatial culture on European soil, are presented in thematic units highlighting the formation of the first communities, the rise of the ruling classes and the consolidation of palatial power and hierarchy, as well as the Minoan scripts which formed the basis of the administrative system. The outward-looking spirit of the Cretan centres and the construction of seagoing ships favored participation in exchange networks, importing goods and transferring ideas from the late 3rd millennium BC onwards, and securing Crete a dominant position in the Aegean and the East Mediterranean during the 16th and early 15th cent. BC.

The rule of the seafaring Minoans in the Aegean, linked to the ancient legends of the demigod King Minos, lord of the labyrinthine Palace of Knossos, is the main focus of the exhibition. Finds associated with religious rituals, sports, public festivals, aspects of private life and burial customs are showcased in dedicated rooms.

CultureThe celebrated Minoan art is featured through thousands of objects. Among the most spectacular are the famous faience Snake Goddesses, the stone bull’s-head rhyton, the Prince of the Lilies and Bull-Leaping Frescoes, the gold Bee Pendant, the Hagia Triada Sarcophagus, the polychrome Kamares Ware vases, the Linear B tablets from Knossos and the enigmatic Phaistos Disc.

In the rooms on the first floor dedicated to Historic times, we see Crete incorporated into the cultural and political structures of the Ancient Greek world. Particular emphasis is placed on the founding of the Cretan cities and worship in organized sanctuaries. The burial finds reveal beliefs and practices connected to the afterlife, while artifacts such as cosmetic implements, mosaics and inscriptions reveal Cretan prosperity and reflect daily life. The coinage, presented in a separate unit, bears witness to the flourishing of the cities and the employment of Cretans as mercenaries in the East Mediterranean.

The two rooms of the Sculpture Collection on the ground floor form an autonomous section that functions independently of the rest of the exhibition as a sort of sculpture gallery. It houses sculptures covering the period from the 7th cent. BC to the 3rd cent. AD. Pride of place is given to the Archaic statues that demonstrate the innovative Cretan contribution to the creation of Greek monumental sculpture, which is inspired by Doric austerity. A series of busts of Roman emperors and Roman copies of well-known statue types of Classical antiquity show that the island flourished during the Roman period, when Gortys became the capital of the Roman province of Crete and Cyrenaica.

The private collections of Stylianos Giamalakis and Nikos & Theano Metaxa (Room XXIII) are presented in a separate section, as well as the echo of the Minoan past of Crete in ancient and modern times (Rooms XIV and XXV).

In the Museum garden are preserved the ruins of the Venetian Monastery of St Francis, attesting to the prosperity of the city of Heraklion during the Venetian period.