The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, Crete: The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is among the most important museums in Greece. Its exhibits include representative samples of all the historical and prehistorical periods of Crete, covering a period of 5,500 years from the Neolithic till the Roman times. However, above all, the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion hosts the masterpieces of the Minoan civilization as it exhibits findings from Knossos, Phaestos, Zakros, Malia and other important Minoan excavations on the island of Crete.
The first archaeological collection in Heraklion was created in 1883 when Crete was still under Ottoman occupation. This collection was created by Joseph Hatzidakis and was housed in two rooms in the yard of the cathedral church of Heraklion Town, the church of Saint Minas. When Crete was set free, this collection was donated to the Greek State. As it was continuously enlarged with donations and findings from excavations around Crete, there came the need to relocate the collection.
The first room of the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion was constructed in 1904-1907 on the ruins on the Catholic Monastery of Saint Francis that had been totally destroyed by the earthquake of 1856. A second room was later added and finally, in 1937 the present building was constructed with designs of the architect Patroklos Karantinos.
These designs were innovative for its era and included natural lighting, additional rooms for new findings, library, and storehouse, while they also permitted architectural additions.
The permanent exhibition of the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion includes findings from the prehistoric till the Minoan times, including pottery pieces, items of everyday life, jewelry, marble statues, stone statuettes, seals and other items excavated in palaces, cemeteries and public buildings. Among the most important exhibits are the Minoan statues from Knossos and the Phaistos Disc.
The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion remained closed for renovation from November 2006 till May 2013, when only a small collection with the most important exhibits was available to the public. Today, the entire museum has opened again.