Friday, March 20, 2009
No trip to Crete would be complete without the all too obligatory visit to Knossos. As tempting as it is to stay away from all those painful bus loads of package tourists, who in their right mind can say no to a visit to King Midas's palace? Birthplace of such myths as: Jason and the Minotaur, King Midas and his golden touch, Icarus and Daedalus. My childhood fantasies refused to hold me back. Schliemann's restoration is, well: imaginative. It certainly doesn't leave much to the imagination of the rest of the world, which given the hordes of tourists who literally tromp through this place, and given the general lack of the average person's imagination - perhaps this is better? In a Disney kind of way? Maybe?
Regardless, it is always interesting to visit the setting of historically significant places. They almost never are the way you imagine. For example, I never imagined Knossos to be packed with wealthy young Russian people. For that matter, I never imagined Greece to be packed with wealthy young Russian people, but they kept showing up everywhere. “Money laundering”, “Russian Mob” are the words that most commonly fly off the tongues of locals whenever a crowd of expensive looking Russians saunter by.
I have to say that the most delightful part of Knossos is the whimsical artwork that has been liberated from her rubble. Frescoes and pottery focus on nature, animals, and people's relationship with them. Flowing lines echo beauty, motion, and joy. There is an uplifting quality to what filled the imaginations of these ancient Minoans. The best window into this imagination is in the museum in Iraklio.