Crete : Geography & Nature
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Natural History Museum of Crete
Iraklion, Dermatas Gate
at 11.8km (N)
The Natural History Museum of Crete is housed in the renovated former premises of the Heraklion Public Power Corporation, on Dermatas’ Bay. With an area of 3,500 m2, it is the largest exhibition of its kind in the Mediterranean, showcasing the natural environment of Crete and the wider Mediterranean area in an innovative, original way.
Agia Paraskevi Cave
at 14.5km (NE)
This is one of the three largest caves in the prefecture of Heraklion. It lies at half an hour distance to the north-west from the village of Skotino and is at a height of 225 m. above sea-level. The entrance to the cave is impressive: a large arch, 27 m wide and 10 m high. To the right one can see the ruins of an ancient chapel on which the modern chapel dedicated to Aghia Paraskevi was built. There is a feast held in front of the chapel on July 26th .
Agia Varvara town
at 18km (SW)
Agia Varvára (GR: Αγία Βαρβάρα) is a town built along the road between the Messara plain and the Malevizi region at the highest point (580 m).
The town enjoys a unique location with a splendid view into the Malevizi region, and a cool climate, particularly pleasant during the hot summer months. It produces first-rate fruit and vegetables.
Because of its strategic location on the main north-south axis, the town was often exposed to fierce battles. A famous warrior, Mathiou Kapitakis or Mathioudakis was born here: he fought side to side with Karaiskakis and was killed at Faliro. His comrade-in-arms, Logios, was the hero of Aghios Thomas.
As you reach the village, on the north side there is a rock with a chapel dedicated to Profitis Ilias. On this rock -which used to be twice as large but part of it fell off at the beginning of the 19th century- there used to be an ancient temple.
Nowadays, the visitor can find every kind of commodity and facility on hand at the modern town of Aghia Varvara. In summer a special 'tsikoudia' feast, and in early spring a carnival feast are organized by the Cultural Association of the town.
At the centre of the town, there are two churches - one old and one new - both dedicated to the patron saint, Aghia Varvara. Three Byzantine churches are also well worth a visit: Profitis Ilias, Aghios Giorgos and Aghios Ioannis, and of course the old monastery of Aghia Pelagia by the cemetery.
at 20.7km (NW)
Dóxa (GR: Δόξα) is a pretty village built on a height of 400 metres above sea-level and 20 kilometres to the west of Heraklion on the road to the mountainous Milopotamos.
The historical cave of Dóxa (GR: Δόξα) is located in a short distance from the village of Marathos on the road to Heraklion. It is at a height of 490 metres above sea-level, near a well-known taverna also called DOXA.
The cave has a total length of 50 metres and impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
at 23.8km (N)
Dia (GR: Δία & Ντία) is an uninhabited island approximately 7 nautical miles north of Heraklion. It is surrounded by small rocky inlets and its maximum length is 5kms while its maximum width 3kms. Dia is one of NATURA's protected areas due to its status as a biotope for endemic plants and for plants with low dispersal within the Southern Aegean.
Kenouriou, South Iraklion
at 26km (SW)
Zaros (Greek: Ζαρός), at an altitude of 340 metres, is a town with a lake and gorge nearby. It has a couple of hotels and it is 44 km from Heraklion at the southern foothills of Mountain Psiloritis. The population of 3,400, produce olive oil, sultanas, vegetables and spring water. There are a couple of fish farms that serve both trout and salmon.
In Zaros, there are cafes near Lake Votomos, as well as a tavern that serves fresh trout called I Limni (The Lake). Close by is Rouvas Gorge, which is part of the Psiloritis mountain range and is on the hiking route known as the E4 European Walking Path. Nearby Zaros are traditional water mills which have been working since the 16th century, as well as archaeological sites and monasteries.
Zaros is also famous for its water "ZAROS" bottled by a company called Votomos SA.
Diktaian Cave (Dikteon Antron)
Psychro, Lassithi Plateau
at 27.2km (E)
The cave of Psychro is one of the most important cult places of Minoan Crete. The excavators and several scholars identify the cave as the famous "Diktaian Cave", where Zeus was born and brought up with the aid of Amaltheia and the Kouretes, and which is connected with myths as this of the seer Epimenides who "slept" here, or the coupling of Zeus with Europa.
at 28km (E)
Krassi is a small village 47 Km's from Iraklion and 17 km from Malia at an altitude of 600 m.asl, on the way to Lassithi plateau, and is administratively part of the Municipality of Malia. The village is one of the prettiest in Crete, with a lot of springs. Due to the free running water , it is covered with walnut trees, plane trees and all kinds of vegetation. Next to the spring in the middle of the village is one of the oldest and biggest plane trees in Crete (its root has a circumference of 22 meters!).
at 29km (W)
The plateau is located in the center of the Ida mountain range at an altitude of 1400 m. It can be accessed from various sides but the only asphalt road is from the town of Anogeia. It has a roughly triangular shape and is almost flat. Visitors can enjoy the wild landscape, take a walk to the entrance of Idaion cave or to the freedom fighter sculpture, made with boulders from the mountain. An other interesting attraction is the various Mitata scattered all over the area.
Those are circular domed buildings made with stones and used by shepherds for accommodation and storage of cheese.
There is also a tavern with traditional food.
The area of Nida, in earlier times, before the systematic farming and logging damage the flora of Psiloritis, was covered by forests in which mythological and traditional tales put different events. Here Dimitra fell in love with the mortal Iasion.
Lassithi, Dikti Mountains
at 29.7km (E)
The Lassithi Plateau (GR: Οροπέδιο Λασιθίου, Oropedio Lasithiou), is a high endorheic plateau, located in eastern Crete, Greece on the mountain range of Dikti at an average altitude of 840 m, and in a distance of around 55km from Heraklion and 50km from Agios Nikolaos. The plateau is elliptical in shape with an E-W axis of 11km and the N-S of 7km.
The plateau of Lassithi is renowned for its exceptional agricultural produce, the thousands (almost 15000) windmills that used to be there in the past, its significant historical role and for the unique cave of Psychro also known as "Diktaion Andron".
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