The plateau of Nida is one of the largest in Crete, located at an altitude of 1400 meters, in the heart of the Psiloritis Range (Mount Idi). The peaks of the surrounding mountains are white until early summer, forming a wonderful landscape. The plateau can be reached via the road starting from the picturesque village of Anogia, but also via a dirt track from Gergeri.
The plateau is used as pasture and is not cultivated, as it is located in very high altitude. The vegetation is mainly low and consists of the plant Asplenium ceterach. Due to overgrazing, you we’ll not see any trees in the plain, although it was previously covered by a dense forest. You can still see a small, but excellent, sample of forest in the nearby oak wood of Rouvas, which can be reached via the road connecting the plateau with Gergeri or the E4 European footpath from Nida to Rouvas. Also, another nice idea is trekking down the Voriza Gorge, starting from "Poros Milias”, the south passage that links the plateau to the plane of Messara.
Inside Nida Plateau, you can visit the cave of Ideon Andron, where according to tradition, Zeus was raised. The cave is open to the public and is easily accessible. Apart from the legendary cave, the area has some more myths to tell us. Here, the goddess Demeter fell in love with the mortal Iasion and the hero Haridimos, a renaissance hero, was hunting and fell in love.
From Nida also starts the foothpath E4 that ascends to the highest peak of Crete, Timios Stavros (Holy Cross), and to the refuge of Toumbotos Prinos. Also, another part of the European path E4 through the location Akolyta leads us to the Cave Kamares, one of the most important worship caves of the Minoan era on the island. Moreover, before reaching Nida, another road heads to the observatory of Skinakas, at an altitude of 1750m. The observatory is open to the public 4-5 times a year and till late spring access is usually impossible due to snow.
The sacred Cave of the Minoans at Nida Plateau: the Idaean Cave
On one edge of the plateau, you will find a large stone sculpture, the Guerilla of Peace, which reminds visitors of the Cretan resistance during the German occupation. Indeed, Anogia and the province of Viannos were totally razed, while all villagers, who did not manage to escape, were executed by the Nazis. The sculpture looks like an angel, although its wings are the flowing blood.
Around the mountains, you will meet small stone buildings, where the shepherds used to produce their delicious cheese, as they did not have the means to transfer fresh milk every day to their villages. The mitata, as they are called, have particular architectural importance, because they are built with stone walls, withouit any mortar. Also, the temperature inside mitata remains almost constant, all year round. Especially the mitata of Nida are regarded as the best samples of this primitive architecture.