The Palace of Knossos is located just south of modern-day Heraklion near the north coast of Crete. Built by a civilization that we call the Minoans, it covers about 150,000 square feet (14,000 square meters), the size of more than two football fields, and was surrounded by a town in antiquity. The site came to prominence in the early 20th century when it was excavated and restored by a team led by British archaeologist Arthur Evans.
When the palace was first constructed "it must have been a remarkable sight, quite unlike anything seen on Crete before," writes J. Lesley Fitton in her book "Minoans (Peoples of the Past)" (British Museum Press, 2002). She notes that although other settlements on Crete around this time built palaces of their own, none was as large as Knossos. "Knossos perhaps began as a 'first among equals,' and the relationship between the powerful groups that built the palaces may not have been entirely friendly." The position of Knossos was not accidental, and Fitton notes that it lines up with a sanctuary located at Mount Juktas to the south.