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Malia Minoan Palace

Place description

The archaeological site of Malia is situated 3km east of Malia town, adjacent to the wetland and Potamos beach. It was a significant Minoan city that housed the third largest Minoan palace, following Knossos and Phaistos. According to mythology, Sarpedon ruled here, who was the brother of Minos and son of Zeus and Europa. Sarpedon was expelled by his brother Minos and then sought refuge in Lycia in Asia Minor.

Until 1880, the existence of the city was completely unknown when the landowner of the Chrysolakkos area discovered a few sheets of gold a few meters west of the palace. This led to excavations in the broader area by gold diggers. In 1915, Joseph Hatzidakis began excavations in the harbour, while in 1921, the French Archaeological School continued the works in Chrysolakkos, where they found one gold jewel depicting bees, which is considered the most important finding of Malia and is displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.

The city’s name is still unknown, although it is probable that it was either Tarmaros or Milatos. The city minted its own coins depicting, on both sides, the goddess Athena and two dolphins. Moreover, the town covered an area of 1 square kilometre, with neighbourhoods built sparsely around the palace. The first palace was built around 1900BC occupying an area 8800sq.m., but it later destroyed in 1700BC. The palace had two floors with a central courtyard with a rectangular shape and four wings. The most important part was its west side. There were warehouses with many pots and jars, royal rooms, workshops, a weapons room (where the famous royal scepter was found) and altars. The palace was destroyed again in 1450BC, either by an earthquake or by attack.

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