The palace of Phaistos is located on a low hill which controls the Mesara plain, the most fertile area in Crete. Habitation on this hill started during the Late Neolithic Period and continued into the Early Bronze Age. A Minoan and later a Greek town spread on and around this hill. In the life span of the first Minoan palaces, the Protopalatial Period from 2000 to 1700 BCE, the palace of Phaistos was damaged three times by earthquakes. Immediately after 1700, during the Neopalatial Period, the (second) palace of Phaistos was rebuilt. The second Minoan palaces were leveled by an enormous earthquake which destroyed the whole island around 1450 BCE. Only Knossos continued to exist as a palace beyond that, under Mycenaean rule. Phaistos continued to be an important town in Greek times and is mentioned by Homer. The life of Phaistos came to an end around 200 BCE when it was destroyed by its neighbor, the town of Gortyn, which had developed into the greatest power in the Mesara plain.

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Phaistos & Mesara PlainGeneral view of the ancient site of Phaistos and the Mesara Plain from the west. The visit to the archeological site starts from the west side of the Palace where a large open area forms three courtyards. West side of palaceBecause of the slope of the hill, the courtyards have been arranged on three successive levels. In the foreground is the Upper Court and the Greek house; to the right of it is the West Court with the Theatrical Area; in the distance is the Central Court. The Upper Court is paved with uneven flag stones crossed by a raised processional path running from north to south in its eastern half. This court was built in the period of the first Minoan palaces but was also used during the period of the Second Palaces.  Upper CourtThe Upper Court and the house, dating to Greek times, as seen from the east. The Greek house has a main room with benches built around the walls and a rectangular hearth with a column base on either side.
Fenced off ruinsOn the west and south side of the Upper Court, there is a fenced off area of ruins which is closed to the public. The dangerous state of the ruins has precluded their being open to visitors. West CourtThe West  Court and the Theatrical Area from the southeast. The West Court with its floor of uneven flags belongs to the Protopalatial Period. The Court is traversed by two raised processional paths. The larger and wider one crosses it almost diagonally. The other, branching off the first, leads to the west, towards the fenced off ruins. The round constructions beyond the fence are thought to be silos used for the storage of grains. Mesara PlainThe Mesara Plain.
Facade of Second PalacePart of the west facade of the Second Palace. The facade was built to the west of the first palace and at a higher level. Only four rows of worked rectangular stones are preserved, together with a wide staircase which has 12 low steps. The staircase leads to a propylon complex formed by a large column base between pilasters and three successive rooms. NE corner of West CourtThe northeast corner of the West Court. The staircase on the left joins the West Court to the Upper Court and was built during the first phase of construction of the Second Palace. The monumental staircase of the Second Palace is visible to the right. West & Upper CourtsThe West and Upper Courts as seen from the staircase of the Second Palace.  The nine low steps of the West Court end in a wall retaining the Upper Court. These steps did not function as a staircase but as rows of seats. The processional path, which continues through the steps of the Theatrical Area, functioned as a staircase between the tiers of seats. To the right of the seats are the remains of a Protopalatial shrine.
Protopalatial storeroomUnderneath the propylon complex of the Second Palace, a storeroom of the First Palace has been preserved. It contains about 30 jars in their original places by the walls. Storage JarsThis Protopalatial storeroom contains large storage jars decorated with medallions and relief ropes. Storage JarAnother storage jar from the Old Palace in a Protopalatial storeroom.
Central CourtThe Central Court from the southwest. North facade of Central CourtThe north facade of the Central Court. Traces of burning from the destruction of the palace, two pithoi and two sets of niches and half columns on the facade are visible. The North Entry Passage (Corridor 41) is visible roughly in the middle between the two niches.
West StoreroomsThe corridor of the west storerooms as seen from the east. The magazine consisted of ten rooms, five on each side, opening onto an east-west corridor with a pillar in the middle supporting an upper floor which is not preserved. At its east end, it opened out into a two-columned hall with a portico facing the Central Court (foreground). Storeroom 33Storeroom 33, at the northwest end of the corridor of west storerooms, preserves storage jars and a container embedded in the floor for collecting spilled liquids.  There is also a clay stool which may have been used as a step to reach the large jar next to it. This storeroom has a fine finish.  The floor, a raised path, and the lower walls were made of alabaster slabs. Central Court drainThe drain visible at the southwest of the Central Court.
Rooms and Central CourtRooms 54, 55, 56 and 90 with the Central Court in the background. Potter's houseThe buildings at the northeast edge of the palace as seen from the southwest. The potter's house, 103, with its four pillar bases and four column bases is visible. Sitting roomSitting room with a low table and bench. This is the second room with benches on West side of the Central Court.
Royal quartersThe royal quarters, room 50? (Men's Hall). The polythyron, portico and light-well are visible. Royal quarters from the eastThe royal quarters from the east. The large polythyron: rooms 77 & 79. North Residential Quarters, Pier-and-Door Partition between Rooms 79 and 85 from the east. Room 81Room 81 and the lustral basin of the royal quarters.

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