Dikteon Cave – Psichro, Greece - Atlas Obscura
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Psichro, Greece

Dikteon Cave

According to myth, Zeus himself was hidden in this cave to escape being eaten by his dad. 

In Greek myth, before there were gods, there were titans.

The most notorious among them was Cronus, who was in the habit of eating his children immediately once they were born. That was until Rhea, Cronus’ long-suffering wife, hid one of the babies away, feeding her husband rocks instead. That hidden baby would grow up to become Zeus, king of the gods, and the cave he was hidden in is thought to be Greece’s Dikteon Cave.

The birth of Zeus is one of several myths and legends associated with Dikteon Cave. Today this huge cave is only accessible via rented donkey or a reasonable hike from the back of the small village of Psyhro. For centuries the area had been held sacred by the cult of Zeus and few were allowed to enter. However in the late 19th century British and Italian archeologists finally unearthed some of the mysteries hidden in the dark of Dikteon Cave.

The entrance to the cave is 1,025 meters above sea level adjacent to a fertile plateau that has been inhabited since 6,000 BCE. A place of worship, mystery and myth, Dikteon Cave, sometimes referred to as Psyhro Cave, is a true natural wonder as well as a historical one. The steep stairs descend roughly 100 meters into the mountainside. Despite the sweltering temperatures of summer in Crete, the inside of the cave can be 10 to 20 degrees centigrade cooler than the air outside. No light can reach the back thus it appears to be illuminated by an eerie green glow. Immense stalactites and stalagmites are present in massive quantities all along the stairwell. In the furthest depths of Dikteon are a small lake and a rock formation called “The Mantle of Zeus,” an imposing stalactite that hangs ominously from the ceiling over the lake.

The hidden depths of Dikteon Cave seem to be as haunting and mysterious as they must have in ancient times. It truly feels like a place one might stumble upon a god baby.  

 

Know Before You Go

This place is hard to get to. There are signs along the major freeways and road to help get in to the plateau but consult your map regularly.