Alpha & Omega. Greece, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes. Booking  Hotels, rentals, rent a car
Alpha & Omega. Greece, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes. Booking  Hotels, rentals, rent a car
Rent a car in Greece & Crete
Alpha & Omega. Greece, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes. Booking  Hotels, rentals, rent a car
Alpha & Omega. Greece, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes. Booking  Hotels, rentals, rent a car Alpha & Omega. Greece, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes. Booking  Hotels, rentals, rent a car Alpha & Omega. Greece, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes. Booking  Hotels, rentals, rent a car
Home Crete, The Lasithi (Lassithi) plateau, Cave of Trapeza, Diktaio Andro, Nissimos plateau, Karfi Accommodation Crete, The Lasithi (Lassithi) plateau, Cave of Trapeza, Diktaio Andro, Nissimos plateau, Karfi Car rental Crete, The Lasithi (Lassithi) plateau, Cave of Trapeza, Diktaio Andro, Nissimos plateau, Karfi Virtual tour Crete, The Lasithi (Lassithi) plateau, Cave of Trapeza, Diktaio Andro, Nissimos plateau, Karfi Photo gallery Crete, The Lasithi (Lassithi) plateau, Cave of Trapeza, Diktaio Andro, Nissimos plateau, Karfi Travel guide Crete, The Lasithi (Lassithi) plateau, Cave of Trapeza, Diktaio Andro, Nissimos plateau, Karfi Flights
CRETE
Accommodation
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Apartments
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Villas
  Hotels in Greece, Athens, Crete, Rhodes, Corfu
Car rental
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Crete- Heraklion
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Chania - Rethymnon
Maps of Crete
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Chania or Hania
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Rethymnon
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Heraklion
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Agios Nikolaos
Travel guide
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu General information
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Practical information
The routes
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Hania
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Kissamos
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Chora Sfakion
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Rethymnon
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Ierapetra
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Heraklion
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Agios Nikolaos
ATHENS
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Hotels in Athens
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Car rental - Map
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Athens airport
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Athens metro
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Pictures
RHODES
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Hotels in Rhodes
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Car rental - Map
CORFU
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Hotels in Corfu
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Car rental - Map
Other Islands
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Hotels in Greece
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Lesbos Cars - Map
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Thessaloniki Cars - Map
Greece info
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Map of Greece
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Ferries in Greece
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Weather in Greece
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu White - Yellow pages
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Charter flights
Greece, Crete, Athens, Rhodes, Corfu Inquiries
Greek Ferries

Photo of the day

Other sites of the group
New Site Alpha & Omega
 
Property in Greece
Property in Greece
Immobilier en Grèce
Property in Crete
Immobilier en Crète

Site map

Heraklion - Agios Nikolaos

 

20. Heraklion - Agios Nikolaos (travelling inland) (see Map1 - Map2)

20.1 The Palace of Knossos 20.2 Archanes - Fourni - Juhtas 20.3 Towards the Lasithi plateau
20.4 The Lasithi plateau    

THE LASITHI PLATEAU

The Lasithi (Lassithi) Plateau is situated at a height of 820-850 metres and is one of the biggest plateaux in Greece. Precipitous mountain peaks, all more than 1,000 metres high, surround it, forming a strong natural fortification that has only eight relatively accessible passes. The waters that run from everywhere each spring, when the mountain snows melt, enrich the earth with their minerals and then drain off into the swallow-hole on the southwest corner of the plateau, near the village of Kato Metohi.

Map, Heraklion to Agios Nikolaos

Much of this water however remains in the extended water table at a depth of 8-10 metres. Its naturally fortified position and its extremely fertile land attracted human habitation to the plateau very early on as it is natural.

The Cave of Trapeza (also known as Kronio), outside the village of Tzermiado, was used as a place of burial during the Prepalatial period (2500-2000 BC), while in the Neolithic period it may have been used for habitation, as the excavations of the English archaeologist, John Pendlebury, revealed in 1936. On the hill of Kastelos, east of Tzermiado, the English archaeologist found the ruins of a settlement which seems to have been flourishing right throughout the Prepalatial period (2000-1700 BC). And on the top of the slope at the plateau ‘s western entrance which the locals call Papoura, John Pendlebury and his team found the ruins of a settlement of the Neo-palatial and Post-palatial period (1700-1100 BC), while yet another important settlement from the same period was excavated by the English archaeologist R.M. Dawkins near to the village of Plati. The invaders who destroyed all the palace centres in Crete in around 1450 BC seem not to have had a desire for mountaineering, and so they did not disturb the settlements on this plateau.

Lasithi  plateau

They may however have attempted to conquer the area, but without success. Sir Arthur Evans, who also researched the area, discovered the remains of strong fortifications at all the passes/entrances to the plateau. Diktaio Andro, however, near to the village of Psychro, has special importance on the Plateau of Lasithi; this is where Cretan mythology placed the birth of Zeus. For more than 1,000 years, from the beginning of the Neo-palatial period (1700 BC) to the end of the geometric period (700 BC), the Cretans ascended to the sacred Diktaio Antro to worship, presenting valuable votive offerings. In the excavations carried out by the English archaeologist, David Hogarth, in 1899-1900, many bronze idols of humans and animals, weapons, tools and sacred double-headed axes were found.

When those wild men, the Dorians, invaded Crete in around 1100 BC, the Minoans and their co-inhabitants, the Achaeans living on the plains, ran like hunted men for refuge in the inaccessible mountainous areas to the east. A large wave of refugees came and settled on this plateau. Indeed, for even greater safety (imagine how scared the poor things must have been!), they preferred the most inaccessible peaks around the plateau. Pendlebury and his team found such a settlement in 1937-39, on a small flat piece of land near the summit of Karfi, almost 2 kilometres northeast of the summit of Papoura. Its ancient name is unknown and so it is conventionally called “the Minoan settlement at Karphi”. In order to visit it, there is a passable signposted path which starts at Papoura peak (an hour’s walk) but there is an even better one that starts at the plateau of Nisimos (see below).

The refugees spend approximately 150 years holding on in their eagle’s nest. In the end, they became sure that the Dorians were not about to go to the trouble to climb all the way up here to fight then, so they came down to more level land, nearer their fields on the Plateau of Lasithi.

Lasithi plateau

It was then that the settlement at Papoura started to develop, and this seems to have been inhabited without interruption until Roman years; indeed, it knew great prosperity. It remained, however, in absolute isolation and for this reason is not mentioned by any ancient writer.

During the difficult years of the Byzantine period, when the pirates were ravaging the coasts of Crete, and in the dark period of Arab rule, the mountain-dwellers of Lasithi lived undisturbed in their safe refuge. During the period of Venetian rule, when the whole of Crete suffered from suffocating feudal oppression, the Plateau of Lasithi became the rebels’ hideout. When the problem became serious for the Venetians, they made a decisive mountain attack in 1263 and captured the plateau. They cut down the trees, uprooted the crops and drove out all the inhabitants. They installed guards at the passes and strictly forbade anyone (on pain of death) to come up here for whatever reason. So the Venetians freed themselves from this thorn in their side, although the rebellions continued from other bases.

Lasithi plateau

This uprooting had positive results from an ecological point ofview, however; in the two hundred years that the blockade lasted, the plateau was transformed into thick forest and a rich living landscape. Its swallow-hole blocked the water, which drained off slowly with the result that the plateau was transformed into a lake every spring when the snows melted.

But difficult years came for the Venetians and their new nightmare was famine. They were then forced to cultivate all available fertile land, including the Lasithi Plateau. Having stripped it, they sent some experienced hydraulic engineers who opened up drainage ditches (the so-called linies) still furrowing the plateau to this very day. The farmers who rented this land built rough and ready huts on the fringes of the plateau, and these gradually became big villages, the same ones you see today. They dug wells to water their fields, and they pumped the water with small windmills of which there were more than 10,000!

Today the Lasithi plateau is a big tourist playground. Most of the fields certainly continue to be cultivated, mainly with potatoes and fruit trees, but the chief income comes from tourism. The 21 villages on the plateau have lost their genuine character and have been turned into unsightly, cheap bazaars where they trade in materials, rugs, T-shirts and all kinds of souvenirs hung on every available stone fence. Jerry-built rooms to let and garish restaurants complete the scene, while the only windmills you will see are plastic imitations in the form of key-rings in the tourist shops. Diktaio Andro is today the den of arbitrariness. The road that ascends from Psychro is bedecked throughout its length with cheap Taiwanese kilims hanging from the fences. It ends at a flat piece of land used for parking where all visitors are obliged to leave their vehicles to take a ten-minute walk to the cave entrance. But a heavy, irascible local appears, apparently the owner (?) of this field and demands that you pay him 500 drachmas for parking!

There’s nothing to see on Diktaio Andro (the finds that were made there are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum in Iraklio) and you’d be wise to avoid the crush and its arbitrariness. The ring road that goes through the villages also has nothing worth seeing to offer you. There are however two very good (and totally unknown) routes which start at the plateau and cross very interesting landscapes.

The first starts at the village of Tzermiado. At the western entrance to the village, you will see a dirt road going off to the north (there is a Greek/English sign at the junction which says “To Timios Stavros Church”). Initially there is a small problem on the road (loose gravel on an uphill part) but afterwards it is very passable (D2) to the end. After a climb of 2 kilometres, you enter the deserted and very beautiful Nissimos plateau, where you can get an idea of what the landscape must have been like in the B.T. (before tourism) period.

The Karfi mountain peak. Malia in the far background

Two hundred metres down the road, you will see a junction where a Greek/English sign tells you to the right is the way to the church of the Holy Cross (Timios Stavros) from where you have a lovely view of the Lasithi Plateau. If however, you want to visit the Minoan settlement at Karfi, take the road to the left. After two hundred metres, you will find yourself at a trifurcation. The road to the right and the middle road cross the plateau and end at its northern edge, at a shepherd’s fold. You will take the road to the left, which stops after 500 metres at the base of the mountain top. Leave your bike in the shade of the only tree at the side of the road and get ready for a pleasant and easy climb (45 minutes) by the marked path that starts to your west, at the point where the road ends. We should warn you, however, that not many things from the Minoan city have been saved for you to see. The excavators, having completed their research (in 1939) abandoned the ruins without doing any reinforcement work so that most of the walls of the houses today are shapeless piles of stones. Two or three more heavy winters and a few careless visitors and nothing of the ancient city will remain standing. If you have a good imagination, and with the help of the diagram, you will be able to locate, on the northeast edge of the settlement, a typical house of the period (1) with its prodomos in the front (something like a hall), the ‘megaro’ (i.e. the sitting room) with the hearth in the centre, and the thalamos (the bedroom) at the end. In the centre of the settlement, a large house (2a), which had storerooms (2b), a courtyard (2c) and a stable (2d), must have been the residence of the governor. The governor’s neighbour was the baker (3) and a little further along was the big, comfortable house of the priest (4). The commercial stores (5) were all clustered together in the upper-class neighbourhood, in an eminent position, while the poor neighbourhood was on the west side of the settlement. If you can’t manage to make out much, go to the sentry’s observation post (6), from where you will certainly enjoy the unlimited view to the west!

Your second choice is a very nice enduro route which begins at the village of Kaminaki, crosses the wild mountainside of southwest Dikti at a great height and finishes at the village of Katofigi. From here you continue on an even more impressive route towards the Plateau of Omalo and Kato Symi and come out on the coast road to Ierapetra.

On the Kaminaki - Katofigi route

To start off on this route, go to Kaminaki and turn left (south) on the asphalt road you will see in the centre of the village, 300 metres after the sign giving its name and is pasted at the eastern entrance to the village. The road climbs the slope and after 1,200 metres becomes a good dirt road (D2). Turn your trip odometer back to zero and follow Road Book 9.

If you want to continue from the Lasithi Plateau towards Aghios Nikolaos, there is only one road, as you can see from the map. All tourist traffic goes down this road, so don’t expect to see anything exceptional. A good alternative would be to go to Aghios Nikolaos via the Plateau of Katharo,situated south-east of the Lasithi Plateau, but only hikers can do this, since to date (1996), no road has been opened up to join these two plateaux;


THE ROUTES THE ROUTES

Routes starting from Hania

Hania
1. Hania - Akrotiri
2. Hania - Paleochora
3. Hania - Sameria
4. Hania - Hora Sfakion (Sfakia)
5. Hania - Kissamos (Kasteli)

Routes starting from Kissamos
Kissamos (Kasteli)
6. Kissamos - Gramvoussa
7. Kissamos - Elafonissos
8. Kissamos - Paleochora (through the Topolian Gorge)
9. Kissamos - Paleochora (through Episkopi)
10. Kissamos - Sirikari

Routes starting from Hora Sfakion (Sfakia)
11. Hora Sfakion - Rethimno (Rethymnon) (travelling inland)
12. Hora Sfakion - Rethimno (Rethymnon) (following the coast)

Routes starting from Rethimno (Rethymnon)
Rethimno (Rethymnon)
13. Rethimno - Ierapetra (following the south coast)
14. Rethimno - Ierapetra (travelling inland)

Routes starting from Ierapetra
Ierapetra
15. Ierapetra - Zakros (coastal road)
16. Ierapetra - Zakros (inland route)

Routes starting from Iraklio (Heraklion)
Iraklio (Heraklion)
17. Heraklion - Rethymnon (coastal road)
18. Heraklion - Rethymnon (travelling inland)
19.Heraklioon - Agios Nikolaos (coastal road)
20. Heraklioon - Agios Nikolaos (travelling inland)

Routes starting from Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos
21. Agios Nikolaos - Zakros


Source of the information on this page : “Unexplored Crete”, Road Editions. For more guidebooks and maps of Greece, click here.

 

 

 

Tip of the day

Naxos. “Big Sweet has this island, virtuous are the faces of people, piles are shaped by melons, peaches, figs and the sea is calm. I looked at the people - never this people have been frightened by earthquakes or by Turks, and their eyes did not burn out.
Here freedom had extinguished the need for freedom, and life spread out as happy sleeping water. And if sometimes was discomposed, never rose tempest. Safety was the first gift of island that I felt as walking around Nàxos." (N. Kazantzakis, "Report to El.Greko").
Náxos is the biggest and the greenest island in Cyclades with impressively high mountains, fertile valleys, lush green gorges, stunning seascapes and traditional villages perched high on mountain tops, where the inhabitants still wear their traditional dress and live off the fruits of the land! Náxos is also an island of beautifulold churches, monasteries and Venetian castles coexisting harmoniously with Cycladic cubic houses. Explore traditional villages spread around the island, with a particular, “magical” character: Apérathos is a colourful mountainous village boasting five museums, stone-built houses, beautiful squares and narrow alleys paved with marble, and Panayia Drosiani, a beautiful church of the Early Christian Period!

 

http://www.alpha-omegaonline.com
E-mail: info@alpha-omegaonline.com
Tel/fax: +33 (0)4 93 37 81 63 --- Mobile: +33 (0)6 08 37 02 49
Address in France: 20, Boulevard Joseph Garnier F-06000 Nice
Address in Greece: Astrikas - Chania - Crete, 73006 Greece