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Nida Plateau and Ideon Cave in Crete

The Nida Plateau and the Ideon Cave - in the Psiloritis Mountain - are located about 20 kilometres southwest of Anogia. Lasithi regional unit offers two other plateaus: the Katharo Plateau and the Lasithi Plateau. The Nida Plateau differs in several ways from the other two plateaus, for example, the Nida Plateau has the highest location. The Lasithi plateau lies at an altitude of 850 meters, the Katharo plateau at an altitude of 1,100 meters and the Nida plateau is located at an altitude of 1,400 meters.

The mountain Psiloritis, or Ida as it is also called, is Crete's highest mountain and measures a full 2456 meters above sea level. Psiloritis is the ninth highest mountain in Greece.


The Nida plateau close to Anogia in Crete.

The Nida plateau close to Anogia in Crete.



The plateaus of Lasithi and Katharo are cultivated with all kind of crops. This applies primarily to the plateau of Lasithi with a cultivation area of about 20 km2. The landscape around the Nida plateau is barren and wild, and the plateau itself reminiscent of a caldera. The plateau is used by shepherds who have sheep on pasture. It is not uncommon to see thousands of grazing sheep here. From a distance they look like popcorn. Another thing that differ the plateaus is that there is a ski slope next to the Nida plateau. So if you come here in wintertime, don't forget your slalom skis. :-)


In Crete, there are more sheep and goats than humans, as here on the Nida Plateau at the mountain Psiloritis.

From a distance, the sheep looks like popcorn.


The trip up to the plateau starts in Anogia. Where the asphalt road ends lies a taverna called Taverna Nida. The taverna was closed when we were here, but we were here in mid-October so it may just have closed down for the season. The taverna also has rooms for rent, if it is open, that is to say. I'd rather choose to stay overnight in Anogia. Nida is a little to desolated for my taste.


Crete. The plateau of Nida. The taverna is visible to the left in the picture.

The plateau of Nida. The taverna is visible to the left in the picture.

Why should you drive all the way up to the plateau of Nida? Some go here because the plateau is so fascinating and that the landscape is so wild, others go here to hike, but the majority go here to visit the Ideon Cave. It takes about 15-20 minutes to walk from the parking lot to the cave. It's well signposted so you can't miss it.

There are many explored and unexplored caves in Crete. The two most famous are Dikteon Cave in the plateau of Lasithi and the Ideon Cave here in the Nida plateau. According to Greek mythology, Rhea gave birth to the god Zeus in Dikteon Cave. With the intention that the father, Kronos, would not eat Zeus (something Kronos used to do with all his offspring) he was hidden in Dikteon Cave. He was guarded by warriors and breast-fed by a goat.

The entrance of the Ideon Cave at the Nida plateau in Crete.

The entrance of the Ideon Cave at the Nida plateau.


Zeus was later moved to Ideon Cave where he grew up and became big. Later on, Zeus forced Kronos to throw up his siblings. After that, Zeus shared power with his brothers. Stuff happens. Some say it was, on the contrary, that Zeus was born in the Ideon Cave and grew up in the Dikteon Cave. But it really doesn't matter, because it is just about mythology.

If I should be honest, and of course I should, the cave is not much to see. It feels more like a mine than a cave. But it may be fun to have been here the next time you solve crossword and it says "Cave and mountain in Crete" as an unsolved clue. :-)


The Ideon Cave in Crete.

The Ideon Cave seen from within the cave itself.


The mountains Ida and Psiloritis are Crete's highest mountains and here is the Ida cave.

Once down in the Ida cave, there is not much to see.

There are other animals than sheep's on the Nida Plateau. Among other things, it is said that there is a wild cat called Cretan wildcat (Felis silvestris cretensis). There are signs with information and pictures of the cat everywhere. Cretan wildcat is said to be extremely shy and exceptionally difficult to see. There are pictures online and videos on Youtube for those who are interested in knowing more. However, whether the images are true or not is unclear.


The mythical Cretan wildcat (Felis silvestris cretensis) in Crete, Greece.

Animals found in the area, including the mythical Cretan wild cat.

The Ideon Cave is located about 20 kilometres southwest of the mythical village of Anogia. If you like plateaus in Crete, do not miss the Lasithi plateau and the Katharo plateau.


Read about Dikteon Cave where Rhea hide Zeus »

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