Mount Ida (Crete)

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Mount Psiloritis
Mount Ida
View of Psiloritis mountains from west
Elevation 2,456 m (8,058 ft)
Prominence 2,456 m (8,058 ft)
Listing Ultra
Mount Psiloritis is located in Greece
Mount Psiloritis
Mount Psiloritis
Location of Psiloritis in Greece
Location Crete, Greece
Coordinates 35°13′38.45″N 24°46′15.22″E / 35.2273472°N 24.7708944°E / 35.2273472; 24.7708944Coordinates: 35°13′38.45″N 24°46′15.22″E / 35.2273472°N 24.7708944°E / 35.2273472; 24.7708944

Mount Ida, known variously as Idha, Ídhi, Idi, Ita and now Psiloritis (Greek: Ψηλορείτης, "high mountain"), is the highest mountain on Crete. Located in the Rethymno regional unit, it was sacred to the Greek Titaness Rhea, and on its slopes lies one of the caves, Idaion Andron, in which, according to legend, Zeus was born. As an island high point at 2,456 m, it is the mountain with the highest topographic prominence in Greece.[1]


The Skinakas observatory of the University of Crete is located on the secondary peak Skinakas at 1750m. It has two telescopes including a 1.3m Modified Ritchey-Chrétien instrument.[2][3]

Mount Ida is the locus for a race of legendary ancient metal workers (Dactyls), whose roots are also associated with Cyprus.[4]

The Nida plateau, to the east of the mountain,[5] is used for downhill skiing.[6]

A small, open stone chapel of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross), site of an annual pilgrimage on September 14, is located on the summit, surrounded by numerous bivouac sites used by mountain walkers.

On the plateau are some shepherd's huts (mitata) built only of local stones, and used both for shelter and for cheesemaking.[7][8][9]

Idaean Cave[edit]

Main article: Cave of Zeus

In ancient times the Idaean cave, "cave of the Goddess" (Dea) was venerated by Minoans and Hellenes alike. By Greek times the cave was rededicated to Zeus.[10] In one version of the legend, the cave where Zeus was nurtured is not this one but the Dictaean cave; there the two nymphs who cared for the infant were Adrasteia and Idê. There are a number of caves believed to have been the birthplace or hiding place of Zeus. [11]

Votive seals and ivories have been found in the cave.[12] Like the Dictaean cave, the Idaean cave was known as a place of initiations,[13] and it may have served as the site of an oracle, symbolized by the frequent depiction of a tripod on coins of nearby Axos, which presumably controlled the territory around the cave.[14]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Topo25 Hiking Map of Mt IDHA (2006 edition)
  2. ^ "Skinakas Observatory". University of Crete Department of Physics. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  3. ^ "Skinakas Observatory". Skinakas Observatory. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  4. ^ Pliny (translated by Mary Beagon). 2005
  5. ^ "Introducing Mt Psiloritis". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "Ski Centre in Psiloritis". Crete Tournet. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  7. ^ Antonis Plymakis, Koúmoi-Mitáta kai Boskoi sta Leuká Ori kai Psiloriti ("Shepherd's huts and shepherds in the Lefka Ori and the Psiloritis"), Chania, 2008, 630 p.
  8. ^ Harriet Blitzer, Pastoral Life in the Mountains of Crete. An Ethnoarchaelogical Perspective, in Expedition, vol. 32, No 3, 1990, pp. 34-41 (on the shepherd's huts of Eastern Crete.
  9. ^ Sabine Ivanovas, Where Zeus Became a Man (with Cretan Shepherds), Efsthiadis Group Editions, 2000, 183 p. (Life in the corbelled dry stone huts of central Crete).
  10. ^ Diodorus Siculus, V.70.
  11. ^ William Smith, ed. (c. 1873). A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. John Murray. 
  12. ^ J. Lesley Fitton,Ivory in Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic Period (British Museum. Dept. of Greek and Roman Antiquities),1992
  13. ^ Yulia Ustinova, Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind: descending underground in the search for Ultimate Truth 2009:180.
  14. ^ Ustinova, noting Capdeville 1990, and, critically, Prent 2005:568.