Idaeon Andron is one of the most important cult sacred caves in Crete. In the area, it is also known as Spiliara tis Voskopoulas or Spilios. It is located east of the central peak of Psiloritis mountain (Mount Ida) at an elevation of 1538m, near Anogia village, at a distance of 75km from Rethymno city.
It is famous because of the association with Zeus’ birth.
According to the legends, Cretan Zeus was born in this cave. Another version of the myth says that Zeus was reared in Idaeon Andron by Amalthea goat and he was born in Diktaion Andron, a cave situated on Mount Dikti, in eastern Crete. Historian Diodorus wrote that Zeus’ umbilical cord fell near Krateros River, in the Heraklion region, as baby Zeus was transferred to Idaeon Andron.
The cave consists of three rooms and an adyton. Three impressive stalactites stand right after the entrance. Rich finds from Idaeon Andron include bronze shields, weapons, seal stones, bronze figurines, tripods, lamps, etc, uncovered since 1884 when excavations began under F. Halbherr.
The most important excavations in Idaeon Andron were conducted in 1885, 1956, 1983 and later. The finds confirm that the cave has been used as a cult center and significant sanctuary. It has also been used as a seasonal residence and shelter. The young Minoan god who represented the regenerative qualities of nature was worshiped in Idaeon Andron during the Prepalatial period and later, by the end of the Minoan era, he was replaced by Cretan Zeus.
A rock-cut altar was discovered in a distance of 70m from the cave. Remains of a building have been found under the cave ground. Late Roman krater pieces were found in the building room that has been excavated. Nowadays, Idaeon Andron is visited by thousands of tourists every year, especially during the summertime.