The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is one of the largest and most remarkable museums in Greece and one of the oldest and most important museums in Europe. Its collection comprises representative samples from all periods of Cretan prehistory and history, a period of about 5,500 years, from the Neolithic to Roman times. However, the crown jewels of the museum’s collection are the unique Minoan art masterpieces, which reveal the Minoan civilisation’s evolution in time. The collection of Minoan antiquities is the most important in the world and the museum is deservedly considered as the most important museum on Minoan civilisation.
Designed by the architect Patroklos Karantinos, the museum is located in the city centre and its construction took three phases to complete, from 1935 to 1958. It occupies the site where the Catholic Monastery of Saint Francis stood during the Venetian era. The Monastery was destroyed by an earthquake in 1856 and its ruins are still visible in the museum’s garden. The museum features a cloakroom, a boutique leased by the Archaeological Receipts Fund and a garden café.