Full Day Tour
Duration of the tour: about 8 relaxed hours
Kilometers: from / to Hersonissos about 150km.
The Road Trip Lassithi is like a journey through Crete 50 years ago, where the older women still wear the black headscarf called “Tsemperi” and can be found sitting on their doorsteps crocheting in the afternoon.
Sightseeing en route:
• Village Krasi with the 2.500 year old plane tree
• Monastery Panagia Kardiotisa
• former windmills in Seli Ampelou
• Lassithi Plateau
• birth cave of Zeus Diktaion Antron
• Return via Neapoli
The age-old plane tree in Krasi
Leaving Heraklion, I took a good bit of national road up to the height of Hersonissos, and then followed the sign “Lassithi Plateau”.
First stop: the small village Krasi with the oldest plane tree in Europe. Best leave the vehicle at the entrance and continue on foot. Beautiful streets, one or two café / tavernas (although they were still closed when I arrived at 09.30) and the huge plane tree, over 2500 years old (trunk circumference almost 11,8m) in the adjacent Venetian fountains.
… consisting of a beautiful courtyard with views, wall paintings from the 14th century in the church and an icon shop before the entrance. Here you can get icons ranging from 4-2,000 euros, the expensive ones being hand painted and adorned with silver. The nun at the cashpoint is a well-traveled lady, and told me about her visits to Dusseldorf and Hamburg (and she really did not look like this)!
Admission to the monastery: foreign visitors: 3€ , Greek citizens free.
The hill Seli Ampelou, entrance gate to Lassithi plateau
After another 10 minutes drive, you can reach the hill of Seli Ampelou, the gateway to Lassithi plateau.
Here on the ridge are some remains of the old windmills of Lassithi. Worth a stop here once for a coffee or lunch in the adjoining taverna with fabulous views over the plain (and very clean toilets). You can also take the footpath up the hill along the windmills.
A little bit of history: The rich soil of the plateau has been cultivated since the Minoan period. Because of the inaccessibility of the region, this area was a hotbed of insurgency under Venetian and Turkish rule. Following an insurgence in the 13th Century, the Venetians expelled the inhabitants of Lassithi and destroyed their orchards, and for 200 years the plateau laid fallow and abandoned. However, when food shortages forced the Venetians to till their land back on the plateau, they built irrigation ditches and wells that still serve the region.
Today, a total of about 5,000 inhabitants live here spread over 20 villages. Only a few of the previous 10,000 windmills are still evident.
The Highlight in Lassithi – The birth cave of Zeus, stalactite cave Diktaion Antron
Shortly after the hill, the road takes you to the Lassithi tour, the farthest route being to the village of Psychro with its stalactite cave Diktaion Andron. This route is excellently marked. …. Please continue reading about Psychro village and the visit to the birth cave of Zeus Diktaion Andron in Diktaion Andron – a visit to the Zeus cave on the Lasssíthi Plateau