21 May 2024
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Idaion Andron

Idaion Andron is located on the eastern slope of Mt. Psiloritis, at an altitude of 1538m., 24km from Anogeia. It is not of great geological value as a cave, sinceit bears no significant decoration, but it is significant from a mythological and cult worship perspective. According to myth, this is where Zeus, the father of the Dodecatheon gods, grew up drinking milk from Amalthea, the goat with the magic horn (cornucopia). The cave was guarded by mythical warriors, men of the Curetes tribe, who, in order to protect Zeus from his father Cronus, who devoured his children, danced and
made loud noise with their shields so that the infant’s cries would not be heard. The Idaion Andron is also associated with later native folk traditions, such as that of Charidimus and his wife, whom he accidentally killed while hunting on wooded Mt. Ida. Idaion Andron was one of the most important caves for cult worship on Crete as early as the 15th century BC. It is worth noting that even King Minos himself came here on pilgrimage to receive mandates from Zeus. The cave’s fame spread throughout Greece, and it became one of the most important centres of theological studies in antiquity. The rites of purification and initiation attracted crowds of pilgrims, including great Greek philosophers, such as Epimenides and Pythagoras. Excavations were undertaken in the cave in 1885 by the Italian Federico Alber, and by Yannis Sakellarakis from 1982 to 1986. Finds from the site are now exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion and include
ceramic objects, bronze figurines, shields, jewellery, tripods, cauldrons, ivory artefacts, etc. Among them, there are also finds dating back to the Roman period, confirming that the cave
cult was revived during Hellenistic and Roman times. At the entrance of the cave, visitors can see the carved altar used for sacrifices. Today, the cave is open to visitors.

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