The Dictaean Andron is located on the north side of Mount Dicte, at an altitude of 1020 m. It is one of the most important, world-renowned caves with great mythological and archaeological significance, since it was here that Rhea gave birth to Zeus, hidden from the fury of Crones.
- Departure from the port of Heraklion or a predetermined point
- Stop at the Dikation Andro
- Stop for coffee at Mesa Potamoi village
- Stop at Agios Nikolaos
- Stop at Monastery of Agios Georgios Selinaris
- Return to Heraklion
Notes: The predetermined positions may change according to your wishes. The tour can be combined with a visit to the Agios Nikolaos to while shopping.
Dictaean Andron Cave
The Dictaean Andron is located on the north side of Mount Dicte, above Psichro village, at the Municipality of Lassithi Plateau and at an altitude of 1020 m. It is one of the most important, world-renowned caves with great mythological and archaeological significance, since it was here that Rhea gave birth to Zeus, hidden from the fury of Crones.
The cave has become the center of interest for many Greek and foreign archaeologists, who have over the years excavated its interior. The various Neolithic, Minoan, Post-Minoan, Geometrical, Archaic, Classic, Hellenistic and Roman findings prove its continuous use by humans, especially for worship.
The cave covers an area of 2,200 sq.m. and is open to visitors. The total length of the touristic route is 250 m. The cave is rich in stalagmites and stalactites and has a picturesque lake.
The Dictaean Andron is the cave where Rhea took shelter to give birth to the future father of the gods, Zeus, being afraid that Crones would devour him, as he did his other sons (an oracle had foretold that Crones would be killed by his son, and so he wished to protect himself). Rhea, though, tricked him and fed him with a huge rock covered with the baby’s swaddling clothes.He then left Zeus in the cave to be raised secretly by the Dictaean Kourites.
Many ancient myths were born in the Dictaean Andron:
- Nymph Aghiali gave birth to the Idaeous Daktylus .
- Minoa visited his father Zeus every nine years, or according to some other myths, every year, to listen to his wise orders.
- Zeus made love to Europa, who he had kidnapped from Finiki.
- It was the house of Harpies.
- The wise man, prophet and seer Epimenides fell asleep in this cave for many years
Agios Nikolaos (or just Agios as the locals call it), is the capital of Lassithi County and is located on the north shoreline of Crete and specifically on the west side of the Mirabello Gulf. Its name is taken from the small byzantine church, located in Agios Nikolaos bay. In the past, it was known as Mantraki, as there were a lot of pens (mantria in Greek) for the goats, which stayed there for the winter. Another name, which is still used by the locals, is Yialos.
The economy of the municipality is based on tourism, the cultivation of olives and the animal husbandry. According to the census of 2001, the number of permanent villagers was 19,593.
The town is located on the spot where the ancient Lato to Kamara was built, the closest harbor of Lato Etera (important mountainous town of the Dorians, 3.5 km north of Kritsa). During the 3rd C BC the two towns were under one administration, worshipped the same god, Eileithyia, protector of childbirth, and had the same coins (on the one side they depicted Eileithyia or Artemis and on the other side Hermes and the word LATION). Τhe citizens of Lato pros Kamara called themselves Kamarites.
During that period, Lato pros Kamara was developed residentially and economically because of its harbor. On the contrary, Lato started decaying. A lot of statues, inscriptions and graves have been found from that period near the area of the river. Today, the grave offerings, some of which are quite interesting, are exhibited in the archaeological museum.
First Byzantine period
Episkopi Kamaras, as mentioned in the Sinekdemus of Hierocles, was still a very notable town.
Lake Voulismeni (or just “the Lake” as the villagers of Agios Nikolaos call it) is a small lagoon in the center of the town. There are a lot of myths surrounding this lake, the most ancient of which says that Athena and Artemis bathed in it. There are also many urban legends, one of which says that the lake is bottomless and another one that it is connected with Santorini’s volcano. The latter legend is based on the fact that during the last eruption of the volcano, the waters of the Lake rose and flooded the surrounding warehouses. In the bottom of the Lake, weaponry can be found, abandoned by the German soldiers before their withdrawal at the end of the Second World War.
- A small park full of pines over the lake offers a panoramic view of the town. There is also a small stone-made path, which starts from the park, winds among the tamarix and ends on the south side of the Lake, where the small fishing boats are tied up.
- The Marina of the Municipality of Agios Nikolaos, where many sailing races are being held.
- The horn of Amaltheia is a sculpture created by local artists, the Sotiriadi brothers, which has been placed on a stone-made atrium, next to the sea with a view of Mirabello Gulf and the small island of Agioi Pantes.
- Nearhou Square, designed by the architect Maro Dayianti (formerly called KTEL square).
- In the pedestrian precinct in 28th Octovriou Str., a renovated, neoclassical building houses the permanent flora exhibition IRIS, presenting all the local plants and the way they were used in the daily life of Cretans, while another similar one houses the municipal Art Gallery, where exhibitions present works of local and foreign artists living and working in the area.
- Kitroplateia (Citron Square) is a square next to a small beach, where a stone-made pedestrian precinct begins, follows the shoreline and ends at the Marina. Its name comes from the trade of citron fruit. In times where the town did not have a harbor, the depth of the beach enabled the workers of the commercial ships to load the commodities.
- The hill of Agios Haralampos. Next to the church of the same name, is a coppice with pines and an water tower, on the top of which two pines have grown. From the top of the hill is a great panoramic view of the town and the gulf.
- The small islands of Agioi Pantes and Faros set an environmental example. Although only a very few meters from each other, their flora and fauna have developed differently. From the middle of the last century, the Cretan ibex, or Κri-kri, has been transferred to the island of Agioi Pantes in order to preserve the purity of the species.
Agios Georgios of Selinaris
Kakon Oros (Bad Mountain) at Heraklion and Agios Georgios of Selinaris.
Crete is full of beauty, beautiful people and beautiful things. High mountains, deep gorges, forests, clearings with thick grass and springs with clear and very cold water. A scenery with so much mesmerizing beauty, a beauty sent by God, as though this place was a small piece of heaven that was cut and thrown down on the earth…
During the time where the Turks dominated Crete, this pass was the most lethal. Due to its harshness, the Turks attacked every passer-by, and especially Christians, going to or coming from Chora, as at that time transportation was not possible by car and roads were rough and inaccessible.
The landscape of Kakon Oros was one of big rocks and inhospitable trees and bushes. In the surrounding silence and gloom can still be seen a dark hole on the ledge of the cliff. In the past, a man who wished to be closer to God refused to stay close to civilization and its benefits and decided to become an ascetic. He decided to climb up the mountain to feel higher and closer to God and watch the small and unimportant people from above.
As he was imprisoned and isolated, he surrendered himself to fasting and prayer. As the days went by, his soul began to calm and his body to change through deprivation. It began to melt like his sins, to vanish like the candle that surrenders to fire. Finally, the last day of his life arrived and his soul flew away like a white pigeon and sat on the small church of Agios Georgios of Selinari. His last sin was that he fell off the cliff and got lost among the thorny bushes. His soul had finally found its redemption.
Next to his bones, there was a prayer book…drops of candle and tears had covered the speech of Isaiah, “Enter the rock and hide in the dust, from the terror of the Lord and from the splendor of his majesty”.
For years and years, this exotic scenery is characterized by both shadow and light. On the one hand, the small church of Agios Georgios and on the other hand, the memory of that ascetic, who left there his bony figure, creating myths and representing human sacrifice.
Even today, there is no other place where travelers feel so much peace and inner tranquility. They stop there to light a candle and to kneel in front of the holy grace of Agios Georgios of Selinari.