Knossos was the most prominent centre of the Minoan Civilisation, one of the magnificent civilisations of human kind. The renowned ancient city with the palace is the largest and most typical archaeological site ever discovered on Crete. It is located at a distance of 6 km SE of Heraklion amidst olive groves, vineyards and cypress forests. According to tradition, it was the seat of the legendary king Minoa. Apart from being the royal family's residence, it was also the administrative and religious centre for the whole region. The Palace is also connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur, and the story of Daedalus and Icarus.
The Museum of Nikos Kazantzakis was founded in 1984 by the stage designer Yiorgos Anemoyiannis and is housed in the residence of the famous writer (1885 -1957). The interior of the residence has been designed in such a way that it presents the life and work of the writer in eight languages. Exhibits include personal items, letters, manuscripts, the first editions of his books in Greek, as well as audiovisual material in five languages presenting his life and work.
In 1912, Xanthoudides noted the importance of Archanes, but Sir Arthur Evans was the first to characterize the site as palatial, declaring that Archanes was likely a Summer Palace for the Knossos kings. Spyridon Marinatos and N. Platon excavated minor areas in the region, but nothing supported Evans' theory. In 1964, John Sakellarakis dug trial trenches at the Tourkoyeitonia site and uncovered the first evidence of a palace site. Since 1966, Archanes has been excavated by the Greek Archaeological Society under the supervision of John Sakellarakis and Efi Sapouna-Sakellarakis.
In the Minoan era, aqueducts delivered water to Kephala Hill from spring water sources at Archanes, which are also the source of the Kairatos River.
Troullos is the easternmost site of the Archanes settlement. Tourkoyeitonia, in central Archanes, is the site of its palace, likely built in the Middle Minoan period. Excavations began here in 1964 by J. Sakellarakis. It contains features such as ashlar blocks, poros-stone plaques and blocks, plaster, wood, stucco floor tiles, gypsum, kouskoura slabs, mud bricks, ironstone blocks, schist plaques, blue marble flooring, incurved concave altars, wooden columns and pillars, frescoes and Polytheron doorways. A variety of Porphyrite stone lamps, vases, amphorae, cooking pots, cups, lamps, tools and every-day domestic items such as tweezers have been unearthed as the site. Southwest of Tourkoyeitonia, more of the palace is found. While little remains of the architecture, the walls that are preserved are Middle Minoan III–Late Minoan IA. Linear A tablets and the model of a house were excavated at The Archive along with MMIII-LMIA pottery and several unworked pieces of rock crystal, obsidian and steatite. The man-made enclosure of a spring, first partially excavated in 1921 by Sir Arthur Evans was later completed by J. Sakellarakis in 1964. The floor is laid with pebbles and the walls are poros-stone. Evidence indicates that it was built between Middle Minoan IB and Middle Minoan IIIA, destroyed during Late Minoan IA and then restored and in various use afterwards. The Reservoir is within the palace grounds.
A large paved area, is dissected by walkways which in the center form a triangle, is found at the site called "The Theatre Area" or "Aghios Nikolaos" (Saint Nicholas). Two stepped altars are found here, one on a walkway and one on the pavement. There is a painting of a reconstruction of this area in Sakellarakis' Crete Archanes guidebook on page 49 which does this area more justice than a description.