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The Cave of Psihro (“Diktaion Antron”)



The worldwide famous cave due to its achaeological significance lies after a just 30-minutes walk to the south of Psichro Lassithiou, at an altitude of 1025 metres. The locals know it as Psichro cave. A little before 1900, it was given the name Dikteon Andron, and it was correlated to the mythological birth of Zeus Cretagenis (Zeus born in Crete) in it.

Almost the half of the distance, where there is a tourist kiosk, is accessible by car. At the entrance of the cave, the visitor comes across a first hall and a large hall in front of them. The first hall has a total length of 42 m, its maximum width is 19 m and its maximum height is 6,5 m (7,5 m at the entrance). At its northernmost part, a low chamber is shaped, of a height of 1,3 -4 m.

On the floor, there are rocks that have fallen off the ceiling and others that surfaced due to excavation works. At the southeastern extremity of the chamber, there is a large stalagmite cluster that partially obstructs the entrance to the large chamber. On the wall, there are limestone coverings and in the lower chamber, there are few stalagmites.

Moreover, there are old and new edifices in some areas of the first chamber. The large chamber has a direction from North to South. Its entrance is 18m in width (its 2/3 being covered with solid rock and bulky stalagmites) and 14 m in height. Right after that a downhill slope begins until the end of the chamber, which is 84 m in length, its maximum width attains 38 m and its height varies between 5 and 14 m.

On the floor, there are many rocks that have fallen off the ceiling. To the left, a little deeper, another small chamber opens up (10 *5,5), in which recess Zeus was born. To the right another larger chamber is formed 25 m in length, 12 m in width and 10 metres in height (max.) That is divided into two compartments by a cluster of large pillars. In the first compartment, there is a lake measuring 16 *8,5, where there is water all year round.

In the second compartment there is the Cloak of Zeus, that is a large and very spectacular folding stalactite, which has unfortunately suffered damages due to ignorant visitors. All along the large chamber, especially the area surrounding the lake features very impressive natural decor consisting of large pillars, small and big stalagmites, stalactites, and curtains. It is one of the most spectacular chambers one can come across in the caves of Crete.

The cave has been formed within Jurassic limestone (to the west the limestone is Triassic, while to the east it is Cretaceous). The formation of the case is mainly due to the mechanical and chemical erosion of stones by water. Rock detachments from the ceiling, which are disperse all over the floor, have congtributed to its actual form. It appears that such detachments occured during the Minoan times on a smaller scale.

The cave is just a small part of a system of underground dolines and sinkholes that probably continue to the east. At the lake area, the floor lies lower than the floor of the entrance by 35 m approx. The entire cave occupies an area of 22000 square metres. After it has been exploited, the tourist route within the cave attains 250 m. Psichro cave has an international reputation as a tourist attraction. It was explored and mapped by a group with Anna Petrochilou as head of the expedition, in February 1963. Another mapping took place by another group led by E. Platakis, on 19 February 1970.


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More Information

  • Visit Period: All year
  • Operation Hours: 09:30-17:30 daily




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