Crete is an island full of tradition, religion, and mythology. Explore this fascinating side of the island by visiting the Lassithi plateau and the Minoan palace of Knossos. The Lassithi plateau is located at the east side of Crete, on the region of Lassithi. Start your tour with the Monastery of Kera Kardiotissa and learn about its miraculous icon and impressive frescoes. Then continue to the village of Psychro, where you can visit the astonishing cave of Zeus, the father of the Olympian gods. It is a destination of nature and mythology interest. Then visit a pottery workshop, where you will see a craftsman in action, and have a lunch stop (optional) at Seli Ampelou, with a panorama of the old windmills and the plateau. Finally, visit the Minoan palace of Knossos, where the first civilization of Europe was formed 4000 years ago.

Kera Kardiotissa
Learn about the history of the Monastery and the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary.

Dictaean cave
Descent into the cave where Zeus was born and learn about its mythology.

Pottery in action
Witness the art of pottery in action, dating from the ancient years.

Lasithi panorama
Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views from Seli Ambelou.

Palace of Knossos
A guided tour in the palace of Minoan civilization.

Visiting the Lassithi plateau and the palace of Knossos in one day is going to make you understand many fascinating things about the religion and mythology of the island of Crete. Starting from Lassithi, your first stop is the monastery of Kera Kardiotissa (Lady of the Heart). It is located at an altitude of 650 m, at the slopes of the mountain Dikti. The monastery today is a nunnery and the exact date of its construction is unknown. If you visit the inside area of the church, you will notice its archeological importance, since there are frescoes dating back to the 14th-15th century. There is also an icon, dating at the 17th century, which replaced the old icon of Mary stolen in the 15th century. According to tradition, the first icon was miraculous. It is now located in Rome, at the church of sir Alphonsus. The new icon located now at the monastery is considered as well miraculous.

The Dictaean (or Psychro) cave is a must see place at the plateau of Lassithi. It is located above the village of Psychro (cold), at an altitude of 1025 m. There is a parking area before the entrance and a coffee shop, where you can relax and enjoy a panoramic view. The path to the cave can be a little tiring since it is an uphill road that requires around 20 minutes walking. But it is definitely worth it because the inside of the cave is impressive. There is a big number of stalagmites and stalactites at its lowest point, a sight not to be missed. Archaeologically, the cave was used as a sanctuary during the Minoan period and many of its findings are located in the Archeological Museum of Heraklion. According to Greek mythology, this is the cave where Zeus was born and was fed and protected by the fertility goat Amaltheia. The mother of Zeus Rhea has decided to protect him from his father Cronus, who was eating his children, fearing that one of them would eventually kill him and succeed him on the throne. That’s why she gave him birth in the cave. In the end, Zeus killed Cronus, liberated his brothers and sisters and became the king of the Gods in the mountain of Olympus. It is interesting that the father of the Greek gods originated from Crete and that his birthplace is a place of extraordinary nature and archeological interest.

After the visit to the cave, you will have the chance to see a pottery craftsman in action in his traditional workshop and, maybe, try yourselves to craft something. The last stop of the plateau is going to be at the area of Seli Ampelou, where you can have a traditional lunch (optional) and admire the view of the plateau, with its old windmills and nature scenery.

Leaving from this place of such rich history, nature and religion, conclude your tour with a visit to the palace of Knossos, one of the most famous destinations on Crete, accompanied by a guide. The palace is located 5 km south of the city of Heraklion. It was one of the 4 Minoan palaces on the island of Crete and it was also the largest. In fact, it was so large, that in Greek mythology it is called also “Labyrinthos” (maze). In this Labyrinth resided the legendary beast of Minotaur, which was killed by Theseus. The Minoan civilization is considered to be the first European civilization, dating at 4000 years ago. The palace of Knossos was excavated and restored in many parts by Sir Arthur Evans, an English archeologist. The palace served as the residence of King Minos and the queen, and also served as an important economic, religious and political center. You can observe those roles of the palace at many of its parts, such as the Throne room, the royal apartments, the frescoes etc. In the palace, there was also a pipe system innovative for the period.

By visiting the palace of Knossos you will be able to witness the organization and lifestyle of the Minoan civilization. The combination with the Lassithi mountains will fascinate you, as you will discover how the mythology, religion, and tradition are connected to each other and get deeper into the ancient history of the island.

Bring with you
  • Light jacket as Lassithi Plateau is always cooler
  • Hat or parasole for Knossos
  • Sun protection lotion
  • Sport shoes for the Diktean Cave
  • Camera
Food and drink availability
  • In Psychro village
  • In Seli Ambelou
  • In Knossos
WC facilities
  • Not on board of the bus
  • In Kera Monastery
  • In Seli Ampelou
  • At Knossos Palace