Reaching the peak of Mount Psiloritis, the highest mountain in Crete, may not be an easy task but it is highly rewarding to those who brave the climb.
At 2,456 m (8,057 feet) the little Chapel of the Holy Cross (Timios Stavros) awards climbers with spectacular views of the whole island. On a clear day one can see the Aegean shores of Crete in the north as well as the shores of the Libyan Sea in the south.
Psiloritis (“high mountain” in Greek) is located in the Rethymno region. The snow-capped mountain was sacred to the goddess Rhea in Greek mythology, and on its slopes is a cave called Idaion Antron, in which Zeus was born.
The ancient historian Herodotus described the beauty of the island, noting that Psiloritis was once covered by thick forests.
Rouvas, the largest of the few surviving forest areas, is near Gergeri, not far from Herakleion. It consists predominantly of oak trees and is home to rare species of flora and fauna, including the Cretan wild cat.
Smaller forests are found at Kroussonas, near Herakleion, and at Zaros and Pardi, near Rethymno, as well as on the plateau of Vromonero.
The barren mountain peak of Mt. Psiloritis is ruled by huge birds of prey such as the bearded vulture, the golden eagle, the falcon, and the royal eagle.