The Diktean Cave, which is also written as the Diktaean Cave, and whose more correct name is the Psychro Cave, is in eastern Crete. It’s just outside the village of Psychro, which is about a half-hour drive (27kms/17 miles) due south of Malia. It is about 45kms/28 miles west of Agios Nikolaos, and takes about 90 minutes on winding mountain roads.
The origins of the Diktean Cave, in legend at least, go back even further than the Neolithic remains found at the nearby Cave of Trapeza. It was here that the goddess Rhea gave birth to Zeus.
Zeus’s father, Kronos, had been told that he would one day lose his throne to a son, and was so fearful of the prophecy that he ate all his children the moment they were born. Tired of having her children eaten, Rhea concealed Zeus in the Diktean Cave and tricked Kronos into eating a stone instead. Zeus did indeed go on to take control of the Universe and become father to all the other Gods.
However, some people say that the Zeus born here was not the same Zeus who later resided on Mt Olympus but a Cretan Zeus, worshipped as a fertility god who died and was reborn each year.
After such grand legends, the reality of visiting the cave can be disappointing, particularly the rather unspiritual way the local villagers do their best to sell you souvenirs and pester you to take a guide. It is a most unGreek experience, more akin to the pestering of vendors in North Africa than southern Europe. You do not need to take a guide, and provided you have your own torch a guide is superfluous as the cave today is like any other show cave, with stalactites and stalagmites, many in unusual shapes which have produced the inevitable names, but these you can spot for yourself without needing paid assistance.
The main chamber is impressive, being some 70m (230ft) deep, and off it are several smaller chambers. At the bottom is a small pool and it is in the chamber off to the left of this that Zeus was allegedly born. To reach the cave you must stop in the village of Psychro and follow the sign up a pleasant track that weaves through oak woods and takes about 15 minutes to reach the cave entrance. Donkeys are always available for hire for those who find the going difficult, but most care must be taken on entering the cave itself, as the steps down are awkward and can be slippery.
Will there be a holiday or national celebration taking place during your trip to Greece? Find out here.
Three Greek islands and a city proved among the world’s most popular destinations with the users of the famous travel platform.
The Summer of My Greek Taverna by Tom Stone is a memoir of his time on the Greek island of Patmos in the Dodecanese, running a restaurant.
Athens is on the rise as a gastronomy destination, and connoisseurs know that it’s not just about tavernas anymore. Here are eight fine places to check into if you’re a foodie.
The rich and fertile lands of Arcadia in the heart of the Peloponnese, where the vines of the Mantineia PDO flourish, are a feast for the senses.
From Thrace to the Peloponnese, our comprehensive list of guest houses for that perfect winter escape caters to all tastes and budgets.
London newspaper speaks up in favor of the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures at the Acropolis Museum.
Greece is among the top 10 international destinations that US travelers over 50 want to visit in 2022, according to a survey recently released by online travel magazine TravelAwaits.
Internet users will soon have the opportunity to explore the historic monuments and hidden gems of the old town of Corfu through a new augmented reality (AR) tourism guide. A UNESCO world heritage sit…
The time has come for the Parthenon Marbles to return to Greece, their natural home, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday, during a special ceremony at the Acropolis Museum, where he welc…