How many paths run under the foot of a tourist on the blessed land of Crete! How many roads are calling him, promising impressions and adventures? No wonder that he gets confused. That’s good when the Cretans themselves offer already arranged routes.
We continue to acquaint our readers with the routes on Crete as proposed by the company thenewrentcar.com
Krasi – the Keras Kardiotissas monastery – Observation deck (Homo Sapiens museum) – Psychro – Cave of Zeus – Mohos
Giant sycamore and washing laundry by Roman women
Clinging to the slope of the Selena mountain (on the way to the Lasithi plateau), immersed in greenery, which is wetted by numerous springs in the vicinity, Krasi is CRAZY beautiful, really! The maestro of this green abundance is a century-old plane tree on the central square. One says that five people, holding hands, will not be able to clasp its mighty trunk, and its shadow covers the whole square, including tables of the tavern there, which is called… of course Platanos (plane tree in Greek). Tourists say that the food there is tasty and inexpensive. In their own words, directly opposite, is the second attraction (and the pride of the inhabitants) of Krasi – ancient springs. If the old plane tree remembers Roman cohorts, then the springs remember Roman laundresses rinsing here wears of their patrician mistresses.
There are preserved stone bowls for washing. They have water inflow from above and drain down. The water was delivered from the Selena Mountain by aqueduct, which was restored in 1890 to supply the village with water. This historical place is now called Megali Vrisi and was visited at various times by famous people, including Nikos Kazantzakis. Now their portraits adorn the wall of the aqueduct. Krasi is cozy, but crowded: the route of the so-called safari passes through this village, and tourists were chauffeured along serpentines on Defenders or Suzuki Jimny, when they don’t want to steer themselves.
“Kardiotissas” means “cordial”
If you steer to the Lasithi Plateau, specifically towards the village of Ano Kera, then, guided by the signs on the National Highway, you will get to the monastery of Keras Kardiotissas – the Cordial Mother of God. It is a female Stavropegic convent, the written mentions of which occur since 1333. It is known for the miraculous icon of the Mother of God Kardiotissas, which was abducted many times, but always came back. Finally, after such abduction in 1498, the icon turned out to be in Rome… In 1735, the icon in the monastery was replaced with a copy, which is also considered miraculous, healing many diseases.
In the interior of the monastery, there are 14th century frescoes, church utensils and old books, as well as a miraculous chain, which once tied the icon to a pillar. There are not many nuns there, and you can only get by car, so tourists do not disturb much the measured rhythm of the monastery life. But on September 8, on the feast day, hundreds of pilgrims come to seek help from the Cordial Mother of God, or simply to thank her for the intercession.
From caves to space
Do you know about monuments to Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova on Crete? There is even one dedicated to Belka and Strelka dogs! If you do not know it, then you have never been to the park-museum of HOMO SAPIENS. You can look there on the way from the monastery of Keras Kardiotissas to the plateau of Lasithi, and you will not regret it, especially if you are with children.
The museum is literally an “alphabet with pictures” on the history of mankind, where all the “pictures” and objects, starting with the throne of this very homo sapiens and ending with sculptures of the astronaut-dogs. They all can be touched. Caves, huts, baskets, skulls, ceramics and goat-skins – all are very real. For comparing, you can even visit the temples: a pagan and then a Christian one… HOMO SAPIENS museum can hardly be called such an institution: it is a park rather. Walking along you find there yourself first in the depths of the Stone Age, from where you ascend with your ancestors to the heights of civilization and progress, to the above-mentioned monuments. Tourists say that some naivety is more than redeemed by the availability of information and the authenticity of the materials from which the exhibits are made. The view from the observation deck is something special. After the history of the mankind you will see eternity.
Shall we go?
On the way to the cave of Zeus, the main attraction on the Lasithi Plateau (984,25 yards above sea level), you will circle serpentine like an eagle above the pass. But it’s worth it, believe me! Feeling like Daedalus, or Icarus, you wouldn’t want to “land”; and on the very plateau, you would see the main symbol of this place — wind mills flapping their snow-white wings: once they pumped water for residents until were replaced by motors. Recently they began to restore these white-winged laborers as a decoration. On the plateau, which was inhabited even in the Minoan era, there are today 18 villages, and only three thousand people are growing grain, potatoes and fruits. There are there lesser habitual olive trees and many apple orchards. The sizes of pears and quinces hanging from the trees along the road are incredible: they are like big light bulbs! As soon as you see on the sign the inscription “Psychro”, you should know: there are two kilometers to the cave of Zeus.
They say that Zeus was born here, and that the goddess Rhea gave her husband Kronos all the children born, whom he swallowed, afraid to be overthrown by one of them. They say also that once Rhea gave her husband a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes and hid the future head of Olympus in a cave in the Diktean Mountains. Whatever it was, but the cave of Zeus was a sanctuary since the Minoan times: this is evidenced by the local archaeological finds stored in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
Inside the cave, it is like you are on Mars. Freakish stalactites and stalagmites are illuminated affecting you like opium: your breathing stops and you see the shaggy head of Thunderer, then Laoocon with snakes, then the Stone Flower… A ladder goes down, twisting in a spiral to the lake itself, where Rhea bathed her baby, and then it leads up to the light. …It is time to say good-bay.
Some people complain that the 800-meter ascent to the cave is not easy. We will not argue, but how colorful it is! There are there such unordinary donkey-taxi drivers, perfect views and wonderful trip companions! Not knowing foreign words, you have a chance to communicate in German, French, or Czech. By the way you will learn, for example, such words as “Ahoy, comrade!” said by a smiling Czech, who gives you his hand to help bypass the stone on the “donkey” path: you understand it without translation.
Admirable strawberry is sold in the mini-market near the parking lot, and fantastic rosemary glades are nearby! In general, Zeus knew where to be born!
Sheer admiration or Mohos
The final point of the route is the village of Mohos (accent on the second syllable). The feeling of flight is the main thing, about which travelers talk, remembering it. On the one hand, you see olive groves in the mountains, and on the other — “a fantastic panorama of the northern coast of Crete, opened from the serpentine.” Well, what do you want – 1 300 feet above sea level! If you’re lucky, you will get to one of the Cretan evenings, which are held here every week, or to the Folklore Museum.
Descriptions are provided by the company thenewrentcar.com