Amnissos is 10 km far away from Villa Agrielia

Amnisos is seven km east of Heraklion (Iraklio) on a beach used for recreation by the citizens of the modern city, which is the main port on the north coast. The current sea level is three metres higher than the Bronze Age one. Drowned houses are visible.

The first habitation in the area of Palaiochora (Amnissos) dates from the Middle Minoan period (19th century B.C.). The site is mentioned as a-mi-mi-so in the Linear B tablets. The Minoan Villa of the Lilies was destroyed by fire in the 15th century B.C. but complexes C and E continued to be inhabited until the 12th century B.C. In the Archaic period (7th century B.C.) the sanctuary of Zeus Thenatas was founded and remained in use until the 2nd century A.D. After a long period of abandonment, the hill was again inhabited during the Venetian occupation.


The first excavations of the site were conducted at the villa by Spyridon Marinatos in 1929-1938 who also excavated Akrotiri in Santorini. Parts of the Mycenaean settlement (LM III period) were later excavated by Stylianos Alexiou. In 1983-85 the buildings were cleared and drawn by the Archaeological Institute of the University of Heidelberg, under the direction of Jorg Schaefer. Consolidation works and clearing are carried out at intervals by the 23rd Ephorate at the Villa of the Lilies and the sanctuary of Zeus.


Luxurious house, two storeys high, at the site called Palaiochora (Amnisos). It is built of large poros blocks and has the structure of a typical Minoan villa, comprising a hall with polythyra (pier-and-door partitions), a bath, staircases and roofed rooms, paved with flagstones. It was named after the splendid frescoes which decorate the interior walls, depicting blossomed lilies and floral patterns. The villa was most probably built in the MM IIIA period (17th century B.C.) and, according to the excavator, was destroyed in 1500 B.C. by an earthquake or a tidal wave. The monument suffered damages by the German soldiers, during World War II.

It was excavated in 1932 by Professor Spyridon Marinatos.


The most important monuments of the site are:

  • "Villa of the Lilies". Minoan villa with paved corridors, "polythyra" (pier-and-door partitions), shrine, kitchen and rooms decorated with wall-paintings depicting blossomed lilies.
  • Sanctuary of Zeus Thenatas. It is situated on the hill of Palaiochora and has a peribolos surrounding a circular altar of ashes. A wall built of ashlar blocks, dated to the MM II period, is visible today next to the sanctuary of Zeus.
  • Building C-"Megaron". Minoan building divided into two separate rooms by a partition wall. It was used until the 14th century B.C.
  • Complex E. Part of a Late Minoan settlement to the west of the hill of Palaiochora. A section has been submerged in the sea and the preserved complex is divided into two large wings; the east includes storerooms and the west is occupied by a shrine and a deposition pit.
  • Complex F (Mycenaean settlement). It is also part of a settlement, possibly the same as that of "Complex E". It consists of irregular architectural complexes, with rooms employed for the storage of amphoras, a small temple (?) and an open courtyard.
  • Houses of the Venetian period. The settlement called Mesovouni is located on the hill of Palaiochora and was destroyed in the first years of the Turkish occupation.

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