Cave of Zeus on the Greek island of Crete. It would probably be interesting for everyone to visit the cave where, according to Ancient Greek myths, Zeus himself was born – the most important of the ancient Greek gods. You will learn more about this unique place and our adventures there.
The Diktaeaen Cave (also known as the Cave of Psychro and the Cave of Zeus) is located in the Diktyian Mountains above the Lasithi Plateau, at an altitude of 1024 m, 60 km from the Elounda resort, where we started our one-day trip. This cave is one of the most popular attractions in Crete. The road to the cave is picturesque, mountainous, partly with serpentines.
The Cave of Zeus is located on a mountain, so to get to it, you need to climb to the top on foot along the rocky path. There is a parking lot at the foot of the mountain.
Climbing the mountain was not an easy task for us, but the reward will be waiting for us on the top – wonderful views of the Lasithi valley and an impressive cave.
For the lift, we recommend to wear sports shoes, to have some water and snacks.
There is also the option of lifting up to the cave on a donkey. But we felt sorry for these cute animals.
What is Diktaeaen Cave known for?
When we began to clear up what is the real value of this place and why so many tourists come here, we found out that according to the Ancient Greek mythology, the goddess Rhea hid in a cave in the Diktii Mountains, not far from Lasithi, from her husband Kronos. He devoured their children because he was obsessed with the idea that they could take his throne. Here in the cave she gave birth to Zeus, and gave her husband Knossos a stone wrapped in a diaper.
And from the end of the 19th century, the cave above the Psychro village was associated with this mythological place.
The first excavations in the cave were held in 1886 by Joseph Hadzidakis. Research was continued in 1896 by Arthur John Evans.
As a result of the excavations, ancient altars, many statuettes dedicated to Zeus, as well as ceramics from the Early Minoan to the Late Roman period were found. Consequently it was concluded that Zeus was worshiped here continuously for about 2000 years.
The findings from the Diktaeaen Cave are kept now in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion and the Ashmole Museum in Oxford.
At the top, before going down into the cave, you need to buy a ticket.
And here is the cave.
It is wet and slippery in the cave, the steps are quite rapid, so you should go down very carefully.
There is a small underground lake deep in the cave. The kingdom of stalactites and stalagmites reigns here. Stalactites are the mineral formations that hang from the ceilings of caves. Stalagmites are similar to the stalactites but rise from the floor of caves.
Everyone sees something different in these creatures: a jellyfish or some kind of monster. Sometimes the fantasy can play out so much that it becomes even creepy and you think it’s better not to delay and keep up with the main group of visitors.
Finally light and warmth. As for me it is better and seems to be safer on the surface not underground.
After the visit of the cave, at the top, you can taste local yogurt ice cream or kvass (fermented drink) with a magical view of the valley.
After a short break, we go down the mountain.
There are souvenir shops, cafes, and a market at the foot of the mountain.
We have already been to similar places – caves with stalactites and stalagmites. But the cave of Zeus impressed us so much. Visit of the Diktaeaen Cave was an exciting adventure for us. It seemed like we have found ourselves in the intrigue of that ancient Greek myth about the birth of Zeus. Everything around us in the cave seemed so real, as if the heroes of the myth came in front of us in the form of stalactites and stalagmites (perhaps the imagination painted such pictures) and at the same time everything was unbelievable, like from another planet. This is definitely one of the iconic places of Crete. And it is definitely worth coming here.
Author (c): Iryna Melnyk
Photos (c): Mykola Melnyk