Return to Home Page Harrys Greece Guide

Crete's Lasithi Prefecture Overview continued Page Five

Stalagmite from Zeus cavernThe Dhiktean Cave Legend has it that this cave (left) was the birthplace of Zeus, born there to Rhea, wife of the Titan Kronos, who had overthrown his own father, Ouranos (the Greek word for 'sky') and then eaten all of his own offspring so that he would not be overthrown in turn by a son, a fate of which he had been warned. When Zeus was born, however, Rhea gave Kronos a stone to swallow instead of her newborn, hid the baby in this cave, and had the warriors called Kouretes stand outside and clash their swords and shields together to drown out the baby's cries. Zeus spent his boyhood in the Idhean cave and later poisoned Kronos, who then vomited up all of the swallowed offspring and their help and that of the giant Cyclops, threw Kronos and the Titans from Mt. Olympos. The cave itself was found in the 1880s, and in Paleokastro the 'Hymn of the Kouretes', which connected it with the legend. Certain geological features of the cave supposedly represent elements of the Zeus legend, such as stalagmites that resemble teats (above).

the entrance to the cavernsThe Dhiktean Cave site is open daily from 8:30am-7pm, Oct-March; 2.40euros). The path to the cave starts from the village of Psykhro, beyond the parking area, with mules available for the climb, which is, however only 1km/.62 miles (though rocky and steep). The cave has been made less treacherous for visitors in recent years, but the the monasteryguides have also been dispensed with, but one of the guards, Petros Zarvakis is a wildlife expert and leads bird-watching/wildflower hikes between April and September in the surrounding mountains and also to the peak of Mt. Dhikti. Ask someone to contact him for you if he's not around.

A thirteenth-century monastery, Moni Kroustallenia (right) (meaning 'Crystal Monastery') is close by, with wonderful panoramic views. There is a folk museum in Aghios Yiorgos, in an old house, with photos of Nikos Kazantzakis and items of all kinds used in everyday Cretan life (June-Aug 10am-4pm).

Continue Lasithi Prefecture: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18