Knossos - Kera Kardiotissa Monastery - Dikteon Cave
The price is set only for departing from Heraklion city. For departures from other locations, please contact us for advising the price.
- The default stops may change according to your wishes, consult your driver.
- Entrance fees for archaeological sites/museums, escorts/guides and meals are not included.
The archaeological site of Knossos (Knosós GR: Κνωσός) is sited 5 km southeast of the city of Iraklion. There is evidence that this location was inhabited during the neolithic times (6000 B.C.). On the ruins of the neolithic settlement was built the first Minoan palace (1900 B.C.) where the dynasty of Minos ruled.
This was destroyed in 1700 B.C and a new palace built in its place. The palace covered an area of 22,000sq.m, it was multi- storeyed and had an intricate plan. Due to this fact the Palace is connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur.
Between 1.700-1.450 BC, the Minoan civilisation was at its peak and Knossos was the most important city-state. During these years the city was destroyed twice by earthquakes (1.600 BC, 1.450 BC) and rebuilted. The city of Knossos had 100.000 citizens and it continued to be an important city-state until the early Byzantine period.
KERA KARDIOTISSA MONASTERY
The Monastery of Kera Kardiotissa is located 50km southeast of Heraklion, in a wooded area of North Dikti Range, next to the road leading to the Plateau of Lassithi. This is a historic monastery, after which the nearby settlements of Kera and Ano Kera Kera have been named.
The exact date of its foundation is unknown. It is believed that the establishment of the monastery is connected with the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary, after which it takes its name (Kera means Our Lady), which is today located in the Church of San Alfonso in Rome. The icon was drawn by San Lazaro (9th century) and depicts Panagia (Virgin Mary) holding Jesus. According to the tradition, during the iconoclastic Era, this icon was moved to Constantinople, but returned back miraculously. Moreover, during the Venetian Era, the icon was stolen from a wine merchant and moved to Rome, where it is stored till today. In 1735, the icon was replaced by another one, which is also considered miraculous.
The beautiful stone-built church of the monastery is dedicated to the Nativity of Mary (celebrates on September 8). The present church is built in four phases. Originally there was a single aisled temple that was later expanded with two rooms and a smaller chapel. Typical are the old frescoes of the 14th century, quite damaged by time.
Because of its fortified position, during the Cretan revolutions, the monastery of Kera served as the revolutionary center of the local province and thus suffered many times of Turkish attacks. Today Kera serves as a nunnery and it is worth a visit, especially if you combine it with a drive to Lassithi Plateau.
THE DIKTEON CAVE
The Dikteon Cave (or Dikteon Andron or Dictaean Cave) is one of the most important and famous of the 3,000 caves in Crete and the 8,500 in Greece.
It is in the impressive Dikteon Cave, rich in stalagmites and stalactites, that Zeus was born according to legend. This is why the Dikteon Cave was already famous in antiquity, dedicated to the worship of the greatest of the gods, as the many offerings found there indicate.
The Dikteon Cave lies at an altitude of 1025 m. on the northern slopes of Mount Dicte, which dominates the Lassithi Plateau and the whole of East Crete. The cave is near the village of Psychro, which is why it is also known as Psychro Cave.
From Psychro, follow the paved path with oak trees on either side. For the more adventurous, at the beginning of the path you will find donkeys to take you up to the Dikteon Cave. At the end of the short path, just before the cave entrance, it is worth stopping to catch your breath, enjoy the panoramic view of the whole plateau and draw into your lungs the refreshing mountain air, scented with thyme, sage and other local aromatic herbs. It’s a wonderful feeling, making you think it was no accident that the Dikteon Cave was chosen as the site of such an important event as the birth of Zeus, Father of the Gods of Olympus.