Introducing Lasithi Plateau
The Lasithi Plateau, 900m above sea level, is a vast expanse of pear and apple orchards, almond trees and fields of crops. It would have been a stunning sight when it was dotted by some 20, 000 metal windmills with white canvas sails. They were built in the 17th century to irrigate the rich farmland but there are less than 5000 still standing today and few of the original windmills are in service; most having been replaced by less attractive mechanical pumps.
The plateau’s rich soil has been cultivated since Minoan times. The inaccessibility of the region made it a hotbed of insurrection during Venetian and Turkish rule. Following an uprising in the 13th century, the Venetians drove out the inhabitants of Lasithi and destroyed their orchards. The plateau lay abandoned for 200 years. Food shortages led the Venetians to cultivate the area and build the irrigation trenches and wells that still service the region.
There are 20 villages dotted around the periphery of the plateau, the largest of which is Tzermiado (population 747), with a couple of ATMs and a post office. The town sees a fair amount of tourism from the tour buses going to the Dikteon Cave.
The Restaurant Kourites (
In the relaxing village of Agios Georgios (pronounced agh-ios ye-or-gios; population 554), Hotel Maria (
Psyhro is the closest village to the Dikteon Cave. Its main street has a few tavernas, and plenty of souvenir shops selling ‘authentic’ rugs and mats of non-Cretan origin. It is prettier and less dusty than Tzermiado and makes for a better rest stop. Buses to Psyhro drop you at the end of the town where it’s about a kilometre walk uphill to the cave.
Petros Taverna (