Hiking in Crete



Kritsa Wood
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The cypress wood of Kritsa is located about 10km west of Kritsa village, very close to the asphalt road that heads to the plateau of Katharo. It is formed across a deep ravine, at the southern foot of mount Tsiva. The forest is in the middle of the ancient path that led Minoans to the plateau of Katharo, with many Minoan pottery remains found here.

The kernel of the forest is covered by cypress trees, and its surrounding vegetation consists of cypress, oak, maple, holly, wild olive and holm oak trees. Today, the wood can be accessed very easily because the nearest trail starts from the road and ends after 30 minutes of easy walking in the wood. The starting point of the path is located at position Favetoprinos, where there is an information kiosk and several benches with spectacular views of the wood and the Tsiva Mountain. The kiosk has a detailed map of the local trails and the area attractions (caves, archaeological sites, springs, etc).

During hiking, someone will meet abandoned sheepfolds, which indicate the old use of the area by shepherds. Unfortunately, even today, the goats are still roaming in the area and destroy all the undergrowth and small trees, which results in the continuous degradation of the forest. Protecting the last of cypress grove of Dikti Range must be placed in the center of the ecological acts in Lassithi, so as this area does not follow the fate of the extinct cypress forests in Crete.

After walking in the path surrounded by thymeland and crossing the paths heading to Katharo Plateau, you will end up in the woods after some time. Near the forest you can visit the cave "Englishman’s Cave”, where some Englishmen were hiding during the Second World War.

Several centuries ago, Crete was covered by dense forests of cypress, which unfortunately do not exist today. The cypress of Crete was famous throughout the world since the Minoan period, when the timber was one of the major trading products. Indeed, Crete was known as the land of cypress, just like Lebanon is known today as the land of cedar. Over-logging turned the forest to bare mountains and today a limited number of areas with cypress trees remind of the past. It is noteworthy to mention that the forest of Kritsa is the last of its kind in eastern Crete and there are only two similar woods in the White Mountains. The cypress species of Kritsa is known in Crete as female cypress or the Cypress tree of Minos. It is a tree that reaches a height of 30 meters, has high and horizontal branches and rich foliage.

In Greece, the cypress symbolizes mourning and, thus, you will find it planted in the cemeteries. According to mythology Cyparissos was a handsome young man from Kea, grandson of Hercules, who used to have a holy deer in his companion. On one summer day, while the deer was resting in shade, Cyparissos unintentionally killed it with a spear. The young full of despair, wanted to die and asked from the Sky to make his tears flow forever. The god turned him into a cypress tree, the tree of woe.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Lassithi Prefecture
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