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Nida plateau & Ideon Cave

When exploring the mountainous region of Psiloritis, you should also visit the Ideon Cave (or Ideon Antron). It lies at an altitude of 1538 m on the western edge of the Nida plateau. It has no geological, but a
mythological value.

The Nida Plateau lies at an altitude of 1,450 meters and is surrounded by the imposing mountains of Psiloritis. The vegetation is not rich, but the area is among those that stand out for its special natural beauty. According to sources, in the past, the plateau was covered with rich flora, but systematic cattle breeding and deforestation destroyed the Nida forest.
The plateau is used as grazing land, while it is not farmed due to the high altitude. The vegetation is mainly low with the dominant species being the sedge or golden grass, while a major problem is overgrazing. A small but excellent sample of the Psiloritis forest can still be seen in the nearby Rouva forest, which can be reached via the E4 trail starting from Nida and ending in Zaros. Another worthwhile route is the descent into the Vorizano Gorge, starting from the “Poros tis Milia”, the southern pass that connects the plateau to the villages of Riza tou Psiloritis.

The origin of the name is related to the expression “in Ida” which means “in Psiloritis”.

The Cave of Ideon Andron

Archaeological finds show sporadic settlement during the last Neolithic period (3300-3000 BC) and during most of the 3rd millennium BC. no systematic human presence is detected. In the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C. religious use of the cave is indicated for the first time. The sacred space had the most visitors in the Geometric and Archaic periods (10th – 6th centuries BC). The importance of the cave is documented by numerous endowments such as vases of various sizes, artistic utensils, figurines, unique ivory seals, jewelry, miniature gold vessels, and necklaces made of semi-precious stones.

According to the myth, Rhea saved her youngest son Zeus from Cronus, and brought him to Ideon Andron, where the Kuretes warriors guarded him and drowned out the crying of little Zeus by dancing very fast, while their armor banged loudly. This dance is the ancestor of today’s Pentozalis, a traditional Cretan dance.

Excavations confirmed that the cave was the most important of Minoan Crete, King Minos is said to have risen to Ideon Andron every 9 years to pray to Zeus and receive new orders to get him.
70 meters from the entrance of the cave, the visitor can see the large carved rectangular altar used in the ancient ceremonies.

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