Head photo by Paspa Raki, wikimedia
Psiloritis (high mountain in Greek) mountain is the highest mountain of Crete with 2.456m on Timios Stavrou point. Psiloritis count other 2.000m and more summits with Agathias (2.424m), Stolistra (2.325m), Voulomenou (2.267m) and Kousakas (2209m).
It’s a particular mountain, with many legends and mythology stories involved as lays on its flank one of the cretan caves where Zeus was supposed to be born, in Idaion Andron (the other one is on Lassithi plateau, in Diktaion Andron). According to mythology, Zeus was hidden by his mother, Rhea, to be saved from Kronos, his father. As Kronos overtook his father Ouranos power, he decided to eat his children to preserve his authority on earth. Many people says that Zeus was born in Diktaion Andron and was grown up in Idaion Andron. So everybody is happy!
Whatever, that’s maybe why this mountain, as Dikti, in Lassithi area, have been an important cult place for the minoans. The area of Psiloritis was important for minoans, as revealed the Professor Yannis Sakellaraki’s excavations in Zominthos, in 1982. At about 1.100 m high, He discovered a settlement with a huge central building of about 1.500 square meters, probably from 17th century B.C. Read more about it on Archelology interactive. In that period, scientists says that minoan Crete was still widely covered with wood and forests. Another reason for settlement there is that nature was able to provide Minoans with large amount of drinkable water. Nowadays, Psiloritis is still an important source of table water, as its usual winter snow melt slowly during spring. Many water bottling companies commercialize this Ida water all over Crete.
Mount Ida, or Psiloritis, is a very popular mountain path, that is celebrated every first sunday after “Panagia” (Holly Mary, 15th of august). That day, hundreds of locals, but also many tourists, follow the Ida Path, starting from Livadia village at about 5.00 am to reach the “Timios Stavros”, the Holly Cross, that was build from stones during chrisitan period, on the top of Psiloritis mountain, at 2.456m high. If you’re fit enough to go to the top, you will maybe have the chance to share a unique moment with locals as they dance and eat traditional food while playing cretan music.
Locals celebrate also the “Holly cross” on 15 of september. During morning, a religious ceremony is hold on Psiloritis summit, in Timios Stavrou.
We would also like to share with you what is for us one of the best videos ever of Psiloritis, by Nikos Sarantos. View Nikos videos here. .
And another nice drone view from Psiloritis Timios Stavros
Hikking on Psiloritis
Psiloritis mountain is a real good spot for hiking lovers. Here is a hik on the E4 path of about 4.25kms climb, starting from Livadia village. You will have to follow the E4 red marks and stone cairns. After Approximatively 11 kms of asphalt road from Livadia, you will arrive in Mygero refuge.
Afterwards footpath, up to the summit of the highest mountain of Crete is about 4.25 kms. Ascent(promotion) is about 3 hours of pure walking time. Descent is something like 2.30 hours of pure walking time. The way is well marked with red spot and stone cairns. However, it’s tiring as there is no shade and nearly always uphill to reach the top of the highest mountain of Crete.
Advices for trail
Best period to do this path to the highest mountain of Crete is from April to October, avoiding dangerous heavy rains of winter and, of course snow. Be aware that july and august, even on high altitude are very hot months. Our tip: may, when nature and flowers are at their best. Start your day early, for 2 main reasons. First of all, keep in mind you can have a problem so keep some safety time. Then, by starting on morning, you will climb during the “fresh hours”. In addition to usual trekking clothes, take a hat, enough water, sun lotion and good sun glasses. If you plan to spend the night on the top of Psiloritis, you will have to sleep under the stars and even in July, night can be freezing and wet so don’t forget warm clothes!
A few facts about E4 european path
E 4 European long distance path is one of the 12 paths that link Europe from north (Nordkapp in Norway) to south (island of Crete) and from west (Lisboa, Portugal) to East (Nesebâr, Bulgaria), creating a trail network of more than 55.000 kms in Europe. These E-Paths are waymarked and maintained by the members of the European Ramblers Association.
Usual sign in Greece and Crete
The 12 European paths are:
E1 Nordkapp (N) Salerno (I) 7.000 km
Nordkapp (N) Göteborg (S) Konstanz (D) Lugano (CH) Genua (I) Salerno (I)
E2 Inverness (GB) Nice (F) 4.850 km
Inverness (GB) Hoek v Holland (NL) Antwerpen (B) Echternach (L) Chamonix (F) Nice (F)
E3 Santiago (E) Nesebâr (BG) 6.950 km
Santiago (E) Vézelay (F) Echternach (L) Fulda (D) Zakopane (PL) Ártánd (H) Nesebâr (BG)
E4 Tarifa (E) Larnaca (CY) 11.800 km
Tarifa (E) Grenoble (F) Budapest (H) Beograd (SRB) Sofia (BG) Lanaca (CY)
E5 Pointe du Raz (F) Verona (I) 2.900 km
Pointe du Raz (F) Fontainebleau (F) Kreuzlingen (CH) Bregenz (A) Verona (I)
E6 Kilpisjärvi (FIN) – Alexandoupolis (GR) 6.300 km
Kilpisjärvi (FIN) København (DK) Goslar (D) Koper (SLO) Alexandroupolis (GR)
E7 El Hierro (E) Nowi Sad (SRB) 4.330 km
El Hierro (E) Lisboa (P) Andorra (AND) Nice (F) Ljubljana (SLO) Nowi Sad (SRB)
E8 Dublin (IRL) Svilengrad (BG) 4.390 km
Dublin (IRL) Hull (GB) Hoek v Holland (NL) Bonn (D) Wien (A) Koice (SK) Svilengrad (BG)
E9 Lisboa (P) Tallin (EST) 5.200 km
Lisboa (P) Brest (F) Hoek v Holland (NL) Lübeck (D) Gdansk (PL)
E10 Nuorgam (FIN) Bolzano (I) 2.880 km
Nuorgam (FIN) Potsdam (D) Praha (CZ) Salzburg (A) Bolzano (I)
E11 Scheveningen (NL) Ogrodniki (PL) 2.070 km
Scheveningen (NL) Osnabrück (D) Potsdam (D) Pozna? (PL) Ogrodniki (PL)
E12 Ceuta (E) 1600 km
Ceuta (E) Barcelona (E) Nice (F) Genova (I) Salerno (I)