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Must-Visit: Lassithi Plateau and Dikteon Cave, the Birthplace of Zeus

Must-Visit: Lassithi Plateau and Dikteon Cave, the Birthplace of Zeus

Destination Crete

What would a Crete vacation be without a visit to the birthplace of mighty Zeus? A few minutes from Creta Maris Beach Resort, at an altitude of 850 meters above sea level, lies Lassithi, the largest of all the plateaus of Crete. It is here you will find one of the island’s most beautiful landscapes, a fertile plain surrounded by the peaks of Mount Dikti, where the famous Dikteon Andro Cave is also located.

The history of Lassithi Plateau dates to before the Neolithic period, more than 8,000 years ago. This magnificent refuge is one of the few places in all Europe where human settlements have been found at such a high altitude. One of the most characteristic features of the plateau are the 26 stone flour mills located at the main entrance. The amazing fertility of the area is evident even today, and the circuit of ancient villages within the bowl of the plain is transportive to a time before tourism and modernity came to Crete. Where once tens of thousands of windmills irrigated the lush and arable plain, only a few remain as stalwart sentries of 19th-century character. Today, modern pumps distribute the water over the fertile plain to irrigate a multitude of agricultural products.

The old windmills at the entrance of Lassithi Plateau

As for the Dikteon Andro Cave, it is perhaps the most famous of the more than 3,000 caves of Crete. This stalagmite and stalactite rich domicile deep in the bowels of the mountain is where legend tells us the god Zeus was born. Famous since antiquity, a Mecca for worshippers and travelers throughout time immortal, the Dikteon Cave is one of those places you must see to believe. The walk high up onto the mountain, to an elevation of 1,025 meters above sea level, can either be made on foot or on donkeys some guides offer visitors. As you hike uphill, the panorama of the Lassithi Plateau below is breathtaking, and aromatic herbs along the path add to an already mesmerizing experience.

At the end of your ascent, as you begin the trek down into the mouth of the Dikteon Cave, you will understand why this site was chosen as the birthplace of the father of the gods. Other attractions upon Lassithi includes an amazing Venetian irrigation system that can still be seen. And, if you are lucky enough to visit at the end of August, in Tzermiado village, there’s a “potato festival” that lasts three days.

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