psiloritis geopark


Mount Psiloritis, the most Cretan of the Cretan Mountains, holds a cave in its heart, which is a very important part of Cretan history and civilization. The myth of Rea giving birth to Zeus, with its characteristic detail such as the swallowing of a stone that had been swaddled like a baby by Kronos, the beating of their shields by the Kourites, and of Zeus being fed by the goat Amalthia, has nourished generations of Greek pilgrims” Yannis Sakellarakis, Archaeologist. 

 However, the mountain has kept its sacred character even in modern times. A belt of monasteries, chapels and frescoed temples stretches along each side of it. History, mythology, traditions and legends constitute the source from which the inhabitants draw their pride, their courage and their boldness, thus creating a very strong attachment to their homeland. Without exaggeration one may say that Psiloritis represents the center of the world in the consciousness of its inhabitants.

Over the course of centuries the locals have developed an idiosyncratic, plain and popular culture, which indelibly left its mark.

This popular culture finds expression in multiform dance, in song, in Cretan couplets, in songs originating from people living at the foot of the mountain, in every- day- life, birth, baptism, marriage, death, in local architecture and art, in humour, in self- sarcasm and in myth- making. The visitor will find examples of this idiosyncratic culture in every village on Psiloritis. The local’s hospitality and warm- heartedness will fill the soul with the strength and fragrance of earlier times

Local festivities and fairs, which keep traditions alive, are organized in most of the villages in this area. One of the most important celebrations is the festivity honouring the Virgin Mary on August 15.

Visitors in springtime may consider themselves particularly lucky when they have the opportunity to witness the stockbreeders in the Psiloritis area making one of their chores a public fair- the sheep shearing. Starting at the end of May and lasting for about one month feasts take place continuously at the “mitata”. This is the time when sheep have to be sheared in order to be able to endure the burning sun of the summer months.

Passing through the mountainous area of Psiloritis the visitor will also come upon the traditional shepherd’s houses, vaulted buildings, which are called “mitata”. This method of construction is similar to the one used for ancient Minoan tombs, where large stones from the surrounding area were also used.

 The cultural history was interfered with when the well- known country churches came into existence during more recent years. They were built in specially chosen places, in order to show the religious faith of the inhabitants. Once a year innumerable pilgrims gather at the various small churches in order to honour their Patron Saint, to talk to each other and to entertain themselves.