The amazing Plateau of Lasithi
The Lassithi Plateau is one of the most beautiful areas in Crete. High up on the Dikti Mountains, it is a green, fertile valley, covering an extension of 25.000 sq. km full of cultivation of potatoes, garden and fruit products and almond trees. The spectacle of 10.000 windmills scattered throughout the area is unique.
The Plateau of Lassithi is a place that escapes the human imagination. It undeniably constitutes one of the most graphic and beautiful regions on Crete. It has a separate beauty and charm and resembles an enormous natural fortress built by a divine hand.The road up to the plateau leads through beautiful mountain villages such as Neapoli, Vrysses, Amygdali, Zenia, Roussapidia and Mesa Potami.
The plateau is not only an impressive landscape but a unique geological phenomenon. It is 817 metres high, but is surrounded by high mountains. During Venetian rule this inaccessible area was a centre of resistance, therefore in 1263 the Venetians decided to evacuate it entirely. Eventually, in 1463, they permitted resettlement for want of fertile land to cultivate wheat. They deforested the plateau and dug large drainage channels. In 1563, refugees from Ottoman rule in the Peloponnese settled here.
Farmers dug a large number of wells and installed windmills to draw the plentiful supply of underground water and to grind the grain, making the windmill the region’s trademark.
Although the plateau as it is today has to a large extent been shaped by human activity, it still remains an impressive ecosystem, with many species of animals, birds and plants.
Due to its particular geomorphology, since antiquity it has been a place of refuge for the persecuted and was the scene of violent conflict during the 1821 and 1866 revolutions.The largest village in the region, with the most hotels and restaurants, is Tzermiado. On the slopes of the Dikti Mountains and within beautiful surroundings is the Byzantine Church of the Virgin Mary Kera.
Near the village of Psychro is the cave of the same name with curtain-like stalactites and stalagmites. Excavations have shown that it was used as a place of worship as early as 1800 BC (devotional offerings, stone altars, stone seals and Linear A inscriptions) have been found carved into the rock fissures). According to tradition, the Cave of Psychro is identified with the Diktean Andron where Zeus was born and raised.
There are similar later legends about the Ideon Andron on Mt. Psiloritis, so it can be concluded there was some controversy as to which mountain on Crete was actually the birthplace of the Father of Gods. Nevertheless, it is a place certainly worth visiting.
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How to get there:
Coming from Heraklion take the National road to Agios Nikolaos and a little before Malia take the road to Mohos or coming from Agios Nikolaos take the National road to Heraklion and at Vrisses take the road to Tzermiado.