Gorges . Caves . Hiking . Outdoor Rethymnon area

Ideon Andron Cave – where Rhea raised her son Zeus

Ideon Antron entrance
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The Ideon Andron cave is characterized as archaeological site and is situated on the west side of the Nida plateau, 25 km south  of the village Anoghia near Heraklion. Excavations have revealed a large number of votive cult offerings on the site, some of them being exhibited in the Archaeological Museum Heraklion. The cave itself is of particularly large dimensions, with a vast central hall and a gallery of 22 m in length.

Arriving at the Nida Plateau

Suddenly the Nida Plateau (1350 m altitude) spreads out before our eyes. Unlike the other high levels of Crete, only sparse grass grows here and in the summer is used as grazing land.

We continue following the road straight ahead and come to a tavern on the west side of the plateau. You can park the car here and walk 580 m to the top the hill on the path that is marked by red paint on the rocks. You can also carefully drive to a parking lot just before the cave entrance directly over a bumpy, rocky road. Before the climb I read on an information sign about the Cretan wildcat, Felix silvestris, that live in this area. However, of course, we have not seen them.

Ideon Andron Cave 

Once at the top, one’s eye falls on a huge hole in the mountain wall, which is the Ideon Andron cave. Partially stone and wooden steps (about 50) lead down to the bottom, where there is is fact nothing to see. Only one’s imagination can bring the myth of Zeus alive again, who grew up here.

The Ideon Andron cave was venerated as a shrine. The numerous finds of the first excavations from 1885 can be admired in the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion, dating back to the 13th century BC. until Roman times.

The Greek philosopher Plato mentioned the Ideon Andron cave in his work “The Laws”

three wise men (Athinaios, who was Plato himself, Clinias of Knossos and Megillos of Sparta) migrate from Knossos to the mountains and to Ideon Andron, using the hike to philosophize.

The myth

Kronos, who castrated his father Uranus with a sickle, became the ruler of the world, and living in fear of sharing that same fate, ate all the offspring that he sired with his sister Rhea.
Rhea gave birth to her youngest son Zeus in the cave Diktaion Andron (Lassithi Plateau), and giving a stone wrapped in a diaper to Kronos, he gorged himself on it without recognizing the trick.
Rhea then hid her son in the Ideon Andron cave where he grew undisturbed, cared for by the nymph Melissa and the goat Amalthea. At the entrance of the cave the Kouriten (demons) drowned every cry of the infant Zeus with war chants and drums.

  • Our tip: combine your visit to the Ideon Andron cave with the Road Trip to the Nida Plateau: Sfendoni stalactite cave, Anogia, Ideon Andron cave

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