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Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Heraklion Archaeological Museum. It is one of the finest museums in Greece and the best in the world for Minoan art, since it includes the most significant and comprehensive collection of relics of the Minoan civilization of Crete.



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The Heraklion Archaeological Museum started in 1883 as a small collection of artifacts.


A special structure was created from 1904 to 1912 at the suggestion of two Cretan archaeologists, Iosif Hatzidakis and Stefanos Xanthoudidis.

After three catastrophic earthquakes in 1926, 1930, and 1935, the museum almost collapsed.


The director of the Heraklion Museum was then Spyridon Marinatos, who made enormous efforts to collect finances and convince the inhabitants and the central government alike that a new strong structure was required.

In 1935, Marinatos succeeded in hiring Patroklos Karantinos to create a robust edifice that has resisted both natural calamities and the bombardment that preceded the German invasion in 1941.


Although the museum was destroyed during World War II, the collection remained intact and again became available to the public in 1952. A new wing was erected in 1964.


The Herakleion Archaeological Museum is one of the biggest and most significant museums in Greece, and among the most important museums in Europe.


It contains representative objects from all the eras of Cretan prehistory and history, encompassing a temporal range of about 5,500 years from the Neolithic period to Roman times.


The uniquely significant Minoan collection comprises rare specimens of Minoan art, many of them great masterpieces. The Heraklion Museum is justifiably acknowledged as the museum of Minoan civilization par excellence globally.


Archaeological Museum is located in the town centre.

It was erected between 1937 and 1940 by architect Patroklos Karantinos on a location formerly inhabited by the Roman Catholic monastery of Saint-Francis which was devastated by earthquake in 1856.


The museum’s antiseismic building is an excellent example of modernist design and was received a Bauhaus commendation.


Karantinos used the principles of contemporary architecture to the special demands of a museum by giving adequate lighting from the skylights above and along the top of the walls, and permitting the smooth movement of big groups of people.


He also envisioned future expansions to the museum.

The color and building materials, such as the veined polychrome marbles, evoke some Minoan wall-paintings which simulate marble revetment.


The two-storeyed structure features huge display rooms, labs, a drawing room, a library, offices and an unique section, the so-called Scientific Collection, where countless artifacts are preserved and examined.


The museum store, administered by the Archaeological Receipts Fund, offers museum reproductions, books, postcards and slides. There is also a café.

Most of the museum was closed for refurbishment from 2006 and reopened in May 2013.


The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is a Special Regional Service of the Ministry of Culture and its aim is to collect, protect, conserve, document, analyze, publish, exhibit and promote Cretan antiquities from the Prehistoric to the Late Roman eras.


The museum conducts temporary exhibits in Greece and abroad, interacts with scientific and intellectual institutes, and holds a variety of cultural events.


See also:

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Highlights of the Lower Level

Aegean Sea Minoan predominance is seen in this museum. There are beautiful ceramics, such as pots and vases, made of clay. They come in many shapes and sizes, from little vases to enormous pithoi (the typical Cretan large containers used to store olive oil, wine, and grain in bulk).


As one of the first emblems of Greek culture, the labrys (the symmetrical double-bitted ax) has long been connected with feminine deities. There are some that are even taller than a human.

Researchers think that the massive axes may have been utilized in rituals and sacrifices during religious rites.


Phaistos Disc

The Phaistos Disc from the Phaistos Palace on Crete’s island of Crete are known as the Phaistos Disk (also written Phaistos Disk, Phaestos Disc) (second millennium BC). Both sides of the disk are covered with a spiral of stamped symbols that measure around 15 cm (5.9 in). Its purpose and where it was made are still up in the air. Heraklion’s archaeological museum has put it on exhibit.

Archaeologist Luigi Pernier found the disc at the Phaistos palace-site in 1908, and it contains 241 tokens, each with a unique hieroglyphic “seal” that was pressed into a disk of soft clay in a clockwise spiral toward the disk’s center.

Numerous efforts have been made to understand the code of signs found on the Phaistos Disc by archaeologists both amateur and professional. Decipherment efforts have focused on assuming that the script is a syllabary, alphabet, or logography, even if it isn’t obvious. For decipherment to succeed, additional instances of the signals must be located, since there is currently not enough context available for a meaningful analysis to be made.


Minoan Jewelry

Jewellery from the Bronze Age Crete-based culture of the Minoan civilisation shows not only a strong technical understanding (in this instance, metals) and an ingenious design but also a love of vibrantly reflecting nature and a passion for flowing, expressive shapes and patterns.
materials science and engineering

Minoans, inspired by Egypt and the East, especially Babylonians through Syria, developed their own distinct style in jewelry manufacturing. An advanced smelting process enabled Minoan jewelers to turn raw materials into a wide variety of items and patterns, and they had a complete arsenal of methods at their disposal. Rings, for example, were commonly manufactured using three-piece molds and the lost-wax process, but the bulk of the items were handcrafted. In certain cases, beads might be mass-produced using this method.


Metals like as gold, silver, bronze, and gold-plated bronze were used in the fabrication of Minoan jewelry. Stones such as garnet, lapis lazuli, obsidian, carnelian, and jasper of various colors were employed. Imports of amethyst from Egypt show that the Minoans had a strong sense of their own identity when it came to materials and design. Furthermore, Minoan jewelers had access to materials like as faience and steatite (soapstone), ivory and shell, as well as glass-paste and Egyptian blue, a synthetic intermediary between the two.


As a result, gold was a rare and valuable product that was likely only available to individuals with a higher socioeconomic position. Stamps were utilized in certain instances to make it seem like it had been punched out of the material. Granulation is the final technique in which tiny gold spheres are attached to the main piece of jewelry using a mixture of glue and copper salt that when heated transforms into pure copper, soldering them together. Other techniques include dot repoussé, filigree (fine gold wire), inlaying and gold leaf covering.


The Snake Goddess

Enticing mysteries await.

Since its discovery by Sir Arthur Evans in a Crete tomb, the figure of the Snake Goddess has been widely replicated from antiquity. Regardless of whether or not this is true, she is an expressive and striking picture. Her significance to the Minoans who crafted her, on the other hand, is unknown.

Repositories” at Knossos, a “palace” complex, is where Evans discovered this sculpture of the Snake Goddess. He decided to dig beneath the paving stones after removing the western wing of the building and finding nothing. Two stone-lined pits just south of Throne Room contained two pits containing a wide variety and broken precious things: scraps of gold and ivory, faience, stone inlay, unworked horn, ceramic vessels, seals stones, sealings and shells, vertebrae of large fish, and broken pieces of at least three figurine, which included the Snake Goddess.

Evans thought that the rich artifacts he had unearthed were the remnants of a temple that had been desecrated. “Temple Repositories” became his new term for the trenches, and he immediately started to re-creating as much as possible, with an emphasis on figurines of goddesses.


The hat and the cat

Originally unearthed, the Snake Goddess was missing a skull and part of her right arm. Evans saw a snake in the right arm’s short, wavy stripes, and so he interpreted it. Having snakes writhing up both of her arms was, in some part, to resemble the other almost full sculpture discovered in Temple Repositories. Halvor Bagge, a Danish artist, collaborated with Evans to restore the Snake Goddess. They made a matching arm and stripy snake, the head of the goddess, and the positioning of the hat and cat on her head (different faience pieces discovered in the Temple Repositories) on the figure.


As a young lady with a long skirt composed of seven flounced layers of colorful material, the Snake Goddess stands 29.5 cm (11.5 inches) tall. Flourishes created from a variety of colored bands of fabric, which was a Minoan speciality, are seen in this painting. Over the skirt, she wears an apron with diamond-shaped geometric patterns on the front and back. Wraps firmly around waist in broad, vertically striped band at top of the skirt and an apron She accessorizes with a low-cut, striped blouse that reveals her huge, naked breasts on top, which is knotted at the waist with an ornate knot. Situated on top of the snake goddess’s repaired head is the crown of the spherical item that Bagge and Evans felt to be a suitable crown. Hair that falls down her back and reaches to the bottom of her cleavage is long and dark.


Is this really a goddess?

The restoration and interpretation of the Snake Goddess is controversial. Because there is no Bronze Age lady shown with a crown and a cat, these items should be dismissed. Because there is no proof of the appearance of a Minoan goddess, it is impossible to identify this figure as a deity. This figure resembles several depictions of high-ranking Minoan ladies, maybe priestesses. If snake-wrangling is what makes her a deity, this is an issue as well. In the Temple Repositories, the depiction of a woman taming a snake or snakes is completely unique. It follows that she is not well-liked as a serpent goddess.

A goddess at Knossos, of course, was something of a goal for Evans. Prior to excavating the site, he had claimed that the pre-Classical Greeks worshipped a great mother goddess. Evans found—or created—what he was looking for in the Snake Goddess. The authenticity and significance of it, on the other hand, remain a matter of debate.




 Room I

Covers findings from 6000 BCE to the pre-Palatial period, including:

  • Neolithic fertility goddess
  • Vasiliki ware
  • stone jars from the island of Mochlos
  • miniature clay sculptures

Room II

Covers findings from 2000 BCE to 1700 BCE in KnossosMalia and several peak sanctuaries, including:

  • Kamares ware pottery
  • glazed plaques of Minoan houses (aka the “Town Mosaic”)
  • peak sanctuary figurines

Room III

 Room IV

Covers findings from 1700 BCE to 1450 BCE, including:

  • bull’s head rhyton from Knossos
  • snake goddess figurines
  • tools and weapons, mostly cast in bronze
  • cups with Linear A inscriptions

Heraklion Archaeological Museum Room V

Covers findings from 1450 BCE to 1400 BCE, including:

  • ancient Egyptian trade objects
  • clay model of a house
  • examples of a Linear A and Linear B scripts

Heraklion Archaeological Museum Room VI

Covers findings from cemeteries at Knossos, Phaistos and Archanes, including:

  • clay figurines
  • gold jewellery
  • horse burial from a tholos tomb at Archanes

Heraklion Archaeological Museum Room VII

Covers findings from 1700 BCE to 1300 BCE from smaller villas and sacred caves, including:

  • bronze double axes
  • the “Harvesters Vase”
  • steatite vases from Hagia Triada
  • gold jewelry from Malia

Heraklion Archaeological Museum Room VIII – Zakros

Covers findings from 1700 BCE to 1450 BCE from the palace of Zakros, including:

  • rock crystal rhyton
  • bull’s head rhyton
  • pottery with floral and marine motifs

Room IX

Covers findings from 1700 BCE to 1450 BCE in eastern Crete, including:

  • terracotta figurines from Pisokephalo peak sanctuary
  • seal stones

Heraklion Archaeological Museum Room X – Mycenaean

Covers findings from 1400 BCE to 1100 BCE, including:

  • clay figurines
  • clay sculpture of dancers with a lyre player

 Room XI – Dorian

Covers findings from 1100 BCE to 900 BCE during the arrival of the Dorian Greeks, including:

  • weapons and tools, mostly of iron
  • clay fertility figurines
  • votive offerings

Room XII

Covers findings up to 650 BCE, including:

  • pottery decorated with griffins
  • artefacts and figurines from Kato Syme

Heraklion Archaeological Museum Room XIII – Larnakes

Minoan larnakes (clay coffins) are on display here.

Heraklion Archaeological Museum Room XIV – Hall of the Frescoes

  • Frescoes from Knossos and Hagia Triada
  • The Hagia Triada sarcophagus

 Room XV & Room XVI

  • More frescoes, including the famous “La Parisienne”

 Room XX – Classical Greek, Greco-Roman

Sculptures from Classical Greek and Greco-Roman periods


General Information about the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

Entrance: Full ticket, €10 Reduced ticket, €5.
Special ticket package: Full package, €16 Reduced package €8 (valid for 3 days. It includes the entrance to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum and the Palace of Knossos)


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The Heraklion Archaeological Museum, also known as the Heraklion Museum, the Crete Museum, archeological museum heraklion, archäologisches museum heraklion, heraklion archaeological museum shop, heraklion museum, museum heraklion, heraklionmuseum, musee heraklion, museo archeologico heraklion, archaeological museum, or crete museum , showcases the rich history of Crete. This museum displays artifacts from the Minoan civilization, which flourished on the island of Crete over 4,000 years ago. Visitors can explore ancient pottery, jewelry, frescoes, and sculptures while learning about the Minoan culture and way of life.





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