Dikteon Andron or Psichros’ Cavern, also known as Cave of Zeus as the locals call it, is one of the most important and impressive caverns of Crete, rich in stalactites and stalagmites. It’s specially organized and receives thousands of tourists every year. In this cavern, located at the Lasithi Plateau, near the village Psichro, according to mythology, Rea, Cronos’ wife, gave birth to Zeus. Cronos was afraid that his children would overtake his throne when they would become of age. Thus, when they were born, he would devour them immediately. This is the reason Rea came to this cave to give birth to Zeus secretly. Zeus grew up under the protection of the Courites (indigenous Cretans), drinking the milk of Amalthea, a goat. Zeus, being a child, while playing, accidentally broke off one of Amalthea’s horns. In order to comfort her, he rendered the horn able to be filled with anything Amalthea wanted.
Another legend claims that this is where Zeus and Europa consummated their relationship, and another one that this is the cave where the oracle Epimenides, who had visions of the future, used to sleep in.
Therefore, it’s understandable that the Cavern of Psichros was used for many years as a place of worship and sacrifice to the gods. In the archeological digs that took place at the end of the 19th century – beginning of the 20th century, artifacts from holy rituals, copper tools, jewels, idols, axes and the sacrificial altar were found here.
In this cave, human activity began thousands of years ago. Since the 4th millennium BC and for 2000 years, it was used as place of residence or burial for the dead. From the 2nd millennium BC and up to 700BC, it was an important place of worship. During the Roman period, rituals of worship took place periodically – not in an orderly fashion.
The cavern is divided in to two parts: The Upper Cavern and the Lower Cavern. In total, there are 5 grand halls. At the caves lowest point, an amazing lake exists, where visitors usually throw in a coin and make a wish. An enormous stalactite hanging over the lake is called “Cloak of Zeus”. In the cave’s ante-chamber, bats and wild pigeons take shelter.
In thevillage of Psichros, you can find donkeys that carry the visitors if they don’t feel like walking through the paved trail. Before you enter the cavern, take a look at the amazing view of the Plateau. You’ll be astonished.