One of Europe’s most important museums has five millennia of Cretan history on display, including the exceptional Minoan exhibit.
View over 5,500 years of pottery, artwork, tools and weapons when you visit Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Plan to spend time in the Minoan exhibit, which is widely acknowledged as being the best of its kind in the world. Discover Neolithic tools and statues, objects traded with the Egyptians and notable Roman artworks and frescoes too.
Heraklion Archaeological Museum began in 1883 as a small collection of antiques, but the proliferation of archaeological finds in the area meant that the collection quickly grew. The current building was completed in 1940 and houses over 15,000 artifacts spanning a history of 5,500 years. It is one of the largest and most important museums in Europe and is most notable for its extensive collection of Minoan artifacts. Be sure to see it during your visit to Crete.
The 23 rooms lead you on a chronological journey through the history of Crete. Start in the Neolithic period to see ancient tools and a Neolithic fertility statue. Observe that the tools and artwork become gradually more sophisticated as you make your way through the ages. Objects traded with the Egyptians and colorful frescoes taken from the walls of palaces are among the many relics that capture the imagination. Look for the snake goddess statue as well as the Arkalochori Axe, a fearsome-looking weapon used in religious rituals. All objects are grouped by the place that they were found, so you can get a good sense of what each area was known for.
Make sure you visit the separate Minoan collection, one of the most impressive displays of its type anywhere in the world. See the fabulous colorful frescoes and the miniature statues of gods and animals that the Minoans were famous for. Notice beautifully decorated pottery as well.
Heraklion Archaeological Museum is located in the center of Heraklion in Eleftherias (Freedom) Square. During the summer the museum is open daily; check the museum's website for other seasonal opening hours. There is a charge for entry.