The site had been noticed since the mid-19th century;
several travellers, among which the British admiral Th. Spratt, refer
that golden items had been found at the site "Helleniko Livadi". However, excavations at the
area started only in early 20th century (1915) by the Greek archaeologist
J. Chantzidakis, who excavated the hill of "Azymo" and brought to light
a part of the palace and the graves on the beach. Chantzidakis stopped
soon and the work was undertaken by the French School of Archaeology,
which continue to carry out excavations at the site up to now, with intervals.
Most of the mobile finds are displayed at the Archaeological Museum
of Heraklion, but several are also found at the Archaeological Museum
of Aghios Nikolaos.
Most of the ruins visible today belong to the New Palace complex; the
visitor can also see a small part of the old palace at the Northwest,
and a small building of the Postpalatial period at the Northern courtyard.
Today, the visitor enters the palace from the western, paved, courtyard
with raised corridors, the "procession streets" as archaeologists call
them. There are entrances in every side, but the main ones were those
in the north and south wings. The central courtyard has "stoa" (galleries)
at the northern end eastern side and an altar at the middle.
At the western wing of the palace you will see a two-storeyed building
with storerooms, spaces for cult and official appartments. The southern
wing, also two-storeyed is comprised by luxurious appartments and guests'
rooms, a small shrine and the monunental, paved, entrance to the palace,
that leads to the central courtyard. Just next, you may see the eight
circulare structures used for grain storage.
The eastern wing is impressive for the sturctures aiming at the collection
and storage of licuids; the big - sized storage jars ("pithoi") stood
on low platforms; there is also system of channels and collectors for
the collection of liquids.
Behind the northern "stoa" of the central court, there is the "hypostyle
hall" with and antechamber. A hall of equal size located on the
upper storey is considered by the archaeologists as a ceremonial banquet
Western to this two-storey complex there is a stone paved corridor connecting
the central courtyard with the northern and the southwestern ones. The
northern courtyard is surrounded by the storerooms and workshops, whereas
the southwestern one is also known as the "court of the dungeon".
More to the West there are located the official appartments of the palace
with the reception hall at the centre, a typically Minoan construction
with polythyra (pier-and-door partition) and a purification cistern.
The Minoan city is extended around the palace, surrounding it; it is
one of the most important and bigger Minoan cities in Crete. At the
North of the western courtyard there is the agora and a "hypostyle
crypt", interpreted by the archaeologists as a kind of the "prytaneion"
of the historic times.
Up to now there have been excavated both integrate sectors of the city
and isolated houses; the most important sector is the so-called sector
Z and the houses Da and Db; very important is the sector M, dated in
the First Palace period, which covers a space of 3.000 square meters
and is the most important architectural complex of this period, in Crete.
The First Palace period necropolis (cemetery) has been detected at the
Northern part of the beach of Malia, Northeastern to the Pa;ace. The most
important part of this extended cemetery is the burial complex o Chryssolakos;
it is in a grave of this complex that was found the famous pendant with
the two bees, now in the Heraklion Mouseum.