The Minoan Palace of Zakros is the fourth largest ancient palace in Crete after those of Knosos, Festos and Malia. It is 500 meters from Kato Zakros, 8 kilometers from Zakros and 45 kilometers from Siteia.
The Minoan city of Zakros was one of the controlling centers of the Minoan civilization as it was the most important trading center and connected Crete with Africa and Middle East. The Minoans loaded their ships with cedar wood, olive oil and wine, supplied the other countries and imported ivory, gold, precious and semi-precious stones.
The palace was built in 1900 B.C., destroyed possibly by an earthquake and re-built in 1600 B.C. Its area is about 8.000 square meters.
The Zakros palace has many architectural similarities and differences with the other large palaces of Crete. Its characteristic is the Central Yard (in the rest of the Minoan palaces also) and the buildings were around it.
The road to the port of the ancient Zakros city began from the Central yard. Apart from residences, the buildings in the perimeter of the yard were ceramics workshops, store rooms and royal apartments. A tank, the precursor of the today’s fountain, was near the royal apartments.
The Minoan palace of Zakros was destroyed completely in 1450 B.C. (as happened to the rest of the palaces) by the explosion of the Santorini volcano. The palace had been covered by the dirt and the lava for centuries till the end of the previous century when the Italian archaeologists began the first excavations. Then an English archaeologist took over and found a small part of the ancient city. The whole palace was found by the head of the Ephorate of Antiquities, N.Platon, who took over the excavation and found the buried treasures. The important findings of the palace are kept in a specially designed place in the Archaeological Museum of Heraclion.
The archaeological site is open every day, except for Monday, from 9.00 to 15.00.
Ancient findings were found around the hills like the Minoan holly top in Traostalo and the Nekroi gorge where graves from the Pre- Historical Era were found.