Y. Skoulas

Diktaean Cave

The birthplace of Zeus

The Dictaean Cave is where Titaness Rhea hid her son, Zeus, to protect him from his father Cronus who had the nasty habit of eating his children. This is also the place where the love stricken Zeus led princess Europa in anticipation to their union. The cave is located near the village Psychro, in the rocky northern sides of Mount Dikti at an altitude of 1025m. The locals call it Psychro after the village's name and it is one of the top visited archeological sites of Crete .

Start your journey from Stalida, Hersonissos or Malia and take the meandering road up to the Lassithi plateau and the village of Psychro. Wild aromatic herbs perfume the mountain air and the panoramic view will take your breath away. Follow the stony path lined with oak trees that will lead you to the cave entrance.

As you enter the cave you'll encounter wild rock doves and bats that nestle in the dark. Notice the significant drop of temperature that creates an uncanny atmosphere. Here starts your adventure: walk down the well-marked path inside the cave. It takes 250m to get to the central hall, where a unique gorgeous cave interior has been formed of stalactites and stalagmites over the millennia. You will be impressed by the big stalactite over the centre of the lake: this is "the cloak of Zeus". The remains of an altar, niches with votive offerings in the rocks and other archeological finds prove the importance of the cave as a place of worship in ancient times. Most of the ritual objects found here are now kept in the Archeological Museum of Heraklion.

If you are interested in spelunking you will find several other caves on the plateau that are worth exploring: Kronio Cave or Trapeza in Tzermiado Village, Peristera Cave in Avrakonte Village, Agios Charalampos Cave and the Selena Cave (aka Trypa tis Selenas).

Related experiences