During the period known as Late Helladic (on the mainland) or Late Minoan (on Crete) the Minoans and the Mycenaeans built large palatial structures. These structures served very similar purposed for both cultures. They were large, complex multi-purpose buildings that acted as administrative centers. Both types of palaces contained very similar storage, workshop, ceremonial, and residential areas. However, the Mycenaean palaces, which were developed only after the destruction of the Minoan palaces, differ in several key ways, which give insight into the differences between Minoan and Mycenaean cultures. Evidence shows that Mycenaeans were more militaristic and functioned as a monarchical, or feudal society while the Minoans were more focused on trade and seem to have lacked an individual, dominant ruler. .
The earlier Minoan palaces were undoubtedly built for comfort. They featured bathrooms with flushable toilets as well as an extensive drainage system. The palaces, which were normally oriented north to south, were built around a central courtyard. Nancy Demand explains, "All the palaces appear to have been built outward from the central courtyard elements were added as needed to the basic core feature of the court the complex character of the building layout would have enhanced its defensive potential " (30). However, the "labyrinth " building plan of the Minoan palaces appears to be about the only thing protecting against invaders as very few external defensive structures have been found. The Minoans were evidently not a militaristic people. .
Evidence of Minoan pottery scattered across eastern Mediterranean suggests that they were much more focused on trade and expansion through colonization. "Thucydides claimed that King Minos was the first to establish a navy, conquer and colonize the Cycladic islands, free the sea from pirates, and exercise a thalassocracy " (Demand 40). While Thucydides' claims of supreme control of the sea is a bit questionable, it is quite obvious that the Minoans did have a large presence trading and interacting with the other peoples of the Mediterranean.