Pottery in action
The Lassithi plateau is located 70 km east of Iraklion, the largest city of Crete, at an altitude of 840 m. One visit will make you observe aspects of the Cretan life that usually don’t exist in areas close to the beach or in cities. Ascending to the plateau you will have the chance to take panoramic photos of Malia and Chersonisos. The first place you can visit before arriving at the plateau is the monastery of Kera Kardiotissa (Lady of the heart).
The monastery is located at an altitude of 650 m, at the slopes of the mountain Dikti. The exact year of its construction is unknown, but it must have been at the beginning of the 13th century. The name “Kera Kardiotissa” comes from an old icon of the monastery depicting Mary holding baby Jesus. The icon is considered miraculous because it was stolen during the iconoclastic period, but it returned back to the monastery on its own. In the end, however, it was stolen by a wine merchant, who took it to Rome, where it is stored until today. Luckily, it was replaced by another one in the 18th century, which is still in the church and it is also considered miraculous. Inside the church, there are frescoes of the 14th-15th century, which are archaeologically interesting. Being in a fortified area, the monastery was used also as a revolutionary center against the Turks during the Ottoman period. Nowadays the monastery is a nunnery. It is amazing when you realize how important this small monastery has been through the centuries.
Moving on higher you pass through the plateau and notice some of the thousands of windmills that covered the area two centuries ago. There were about 10.000 windmills at that time that were used by the locals to irrigate their land. Nowadays most of them are abandoned and only a few are still preserved. Arrive at the village of Psychro (cold), at the mythical “Diktaion Andron” (Diktaean cave), the birthplace of Zeus. The Diktaean (or Psychro) cave is located 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 Iraklion. 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.
Having learned about the religion of Greece and the mythology of Zeus in the amazing cave, you will have the chance to visit a pottery workshop and see a craftsman in action. You can even try yourselves to craft something with the clay and become creative. After the workshop, there will be a stop at the area of Seli Ampelou, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the plateau, with its old windmills and the natural scenery, along with a traditional lunch in a taverna (optional).
The last place of the tour is the traditional small village of Krasi. The village is located 9 km south of the village of Malia, at the slopes of the mountain of Selena. Its organization is of a typical small traditional village, a small square on its center and the houses around it. What makes the Krasi village special, however, is the huge ancient “Platanos” (plane tree), located at the center of the square. It is considered one of the oldest trees in the Mediterranean sea and it offers its refreshing shade all across the square. Combining the beauty of the tree with the traditional fountains, cafes, and shops in the square of the village, all these create a calm unspoiled scenery that will soothe you and reveal to you the real essence of Crete.
- Light jacket as Lassithi Plateau is always cooler
- Sun protection lotion
- Sport shoes for the Diktean Cave
- In Psychro village
- In Seli Ambelou
- In Krasi village
- Not on board of the bus
- In Kera monastery
- In Psychro parking
- In Seli Ampelou
- In Krasi village