Lasithi Caves

The caves of Lassithi

In the surrounding country side of Lasithi there are several caves of archaeological interest, one of which is the Trapeza cave or cave of Cronos at a height of 90 m above the plain, and the other is the Diktaeon Andron or cave of Zeus (also King Minos, the son of Zeus and Europe was born).

The Diktaeon Andro is located on the side of a mountain above the picturesque plateau of Lassithi at a height of 1.025 m west of the village of Psychro. The cave can be reached by going to the outskirts of the village of Psychro (48 km east of Heraklion and 2 km west of Agios Nikolaos), where there is a path ascending to it. The view from the cave entrance is marvelous. The cave is not only a famous archaeological site, and among the most important in prehistoric Greece, but also one of the most beautiful and impressive of the 3.400 caves on Crete. One can go from the village to the cave on foot or by mule or donkey, which can be rented from the locals. A steep path leads to a small level area in front of the narrow entrance to the cave.

Dikteon Cave

The descent into the fascinating cave demands some caution. Stalactites of various shapes adorn the lower cave. On the right there is a small "upper chamber". At the end an irregular enclosure formed a kind of shrine with a roughly paved floor in places. Beside it was a square altar built of field stones. The visitor then descends a steep, 60 m long slippery passage, to reach an underground pool and various chambers with stalactites and stalagmites. One imposing stalactite has been given the name of the "Mantle of Zeus".

Archaeologists have uncovered many icons and votive symbols, confirming that the cave was an important place of worship during the Minoan era. In the background of the cave is a small pond, where, according to myth, Zeus bathed and around which most of the offerings were found.

Trapeza Cave

Cronos or Trapeza Cave - To enter the Cronos Cave ("Kronian cave", Kronos = Saturn, father of Zeus), near the tiny town of Tzermiado on the Lasithi Plateau, is to unpeel one of the last layers of human history on the island. Fall down through the centuries, back beyond the heyday of the Ottoman Empire and of the Venetians, past Byzantium and beyond to the Romans and the ancient Greeks - all of whom very evidently left their mark on Crete - and you reach the era of Europe's most ancient culture, the Minoans. But even the Minoans are not as ancient as the people that once lived here. The skeletons that once lay here dated back to Neolithic times - the remains, perhaps, of one of Crete's founding families.