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Giouchtas Caves
Category: Cave
Prefecture: Heraclion
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Giouchtas Caves

Ancient authors believed the sacred, anthropomorphic Mount Juktas or Giouchtas to be the tomb of Zeus. It has four sacred caves, one at each point of the horizon. In the Minoan period these were places of sacrifice, ceremonies and food storage.

Their common feature is that they are comprised of many interconnected chambers.The cave chasm of the Juktas SanctuaryThis is a narrow fissure 12 metres deep which communicates with smaller cavities. It is located at “Tou Zia to Mnima” (“the Tomb of Zeus”) at the centre of the Minoan peak sanctuary, at an altitude of 720 m. Countless offerings of the Middle and Late Minoan periods were discovered here, together with dedicatory inscriptions in Linear A script.Chosto NeroThis cave is also 720 m above sea level, on the southernmost peak of the sacred mountain. It consists of three chambers and corridors containing stalactites and stalagmites resembling human figures, causing the Minoans to use the cave as a place of worship. This is demonstrated by the many ancient potsherds and statuettes discovered here in recent years.


Stravomyti Cave This is on the north side of Mount Juktas and is easily spotted due to its many cliffside openings.The rich finds from this cave justify the hypothesis that is was used in every historical period, even Neolithic times, as the skull of a small child was found in a Neolithic vessel discovered here. This is the most distinctive cave on the mountain, with many chambers and passages on at least two levels. Its passages are estimated to extend roughly 400 m in total, although it remains unexplored.AnemospiliaThese “Caves of the Wind” are cracks in the solid limestone rock, 440 m high on the NNW slope of Mount Juktas. Their name is due to their position: facing north, they are exposed to the strong north winds. The excavations by the Sakellarakis husband-and-wife team have brought to light fragments of libation vessels bearing dedicatory inscriptions in Linea


Places near Giouchtas Caves

Jiouchtas Mount
Jiouchtas Mount 2836 hits
The special characteristic landscape of the region that is also its landmark is mount Giouchta. It is visible from the 3/4 of the prefecture of Heraklion. The perimeter line that separates Giouchta from other areas is clear, has a length of about 12300 meters and goes through the areas of Aoraki and Myristi in the north, Diporto and Spilio in the south, Rousos Gremos, Platia Peza, Kalogrado, Kelia and Chalikia in the west, and finally Aoraki Plai and Kaki Skala, Myristis Chonos, Petrokefalo, Anemospilio, Mandraki, Ortho Poro, Chosto Nero and Mari Poro in the east. This area that includes the main area of the mountain is 1000 acres and belongs entirely in the Municipality of Archanes.It is a mountainous landscape, with very steep slopes and an altitude of 811 meters. The rocks that prevail are limestone of the Tripoli order. Extensive farms of vines and olive trees surround it. It is a particularly important archaeological region, in which human activities are continued perpetually from the Neolithic age. Typical Mediterranean vegetation prevails, however clumps from cypresses and pines that emanate from plantings of trees also exist. In the two higher mountaintops exist a telecommunication device and a church.Mount Giouchta, (altitude 811 meters) apart from its great historical and archaeological value also possesses a very important ecological role in the wider region. This role has to do with hydrologic flow, protection of the ground and climate normalization. Finally, it has also to do with flora and fauna protection, because the mountain is one of the last shelters for wild life that is threatened by the increase of irrigated areas in the Prefecture of Heraklion.Giouchta has been characterized as a reforested area (1969), as a Landscape of Particular Natural Beauty (1970) and it is a protected archaeological site (1980). It has also been included in the European Network NATURA 2000, for the conservation of natural ecosystems as well as wild flora and fauna. 61% of the mountain’s wild birds are protected from international conventions and 8% are included in the Red Book of Threatened Vertebrates of Greece.In addition, because of the presence of an important vulture colony, mount Giouchta has been nominated (1982) as an Important Biotope in European Level and later it was mentioned in the list for the International Bird Biotopes (Grimmet and Jones 1989) and the Greek Bird Society (EOE 1994). The region also has other infrequent or endemic plants and other species and this is why it is included in the European Union list of Important Biotopes for Natural Conservation in Europe (list of Corine Biotopes).

Access to Giouchtas hill:

A. By footBeginning from the central square of the village one can walk towards the top of the mountain. It will last roughly 1 hour. It is an impressive walk through flowers one can see the Cretan orchids in spring. The small church of Lord Christ is found on top. From this particular point the view of the village and that of the wider region is amazing.  B. By carArchanes - Top of mount GiouchtaThere is a 4,2 km road to the top of mount Giouchta. After that 2 paths exist. One leads to the Lord Christ church and the other to Psili Korfi that the pagan top is found. . From there the path continues for Alonaki and Anemospilia.
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Juchtas Psili Korfi 2695 hits

Psili Korfi means "high peak" in Greek and may refer to any peak but specifically Juchtas peak sanctuary.A mountain in north-central Crete, Mount Juchtas (also spelled Iuchtas, Iouktas, and a variety of others due to irregular transliteration from Greek) was an important religious site for the Minoan Civilization. Located a few kilometers from the palaces of Knossos and Fourni and the "megaron" at Vathypetro, Mount Juktas was the site of an important peak sanctuary in the Minoan world. At the base of Juchtas, at Anemospilia was also found a site that suggested to some that the Minoans practiced human sacrifice, but the evidence is currently somewhat in question.Mount Juktas is the site of one of the most important peak sanctuaries in the Minoan world. It is also probably the first of the peak sanctuaries. Archaeologists have studied the site over an extensive period, examining fragments of pottery, remains of walls, and some unique kinds of stone that must have been hauled up the mountain because they do not occur atop the mountain.The mountain remains important in the religious life of the people of the area up to this day - a Greek Orthodox chapel is located about a kilometer south of the sanctuary along the ridge of the mountain. Every year, people from towns down in the plains below Mount Juktas bring flowers in procession to the chapel. Yiouchtas was first excavated in 1909 by Sir Arthur Evans.Jutkas can be regarded as an adjunct archaeological site to the important Knossos site a few kilometres distant. Among the finds at the Juktas Minoan peak sanctuary were clay human and animal figurines, stone horns, stone altars, bronze double axes, and both bowls and tables with Linear A inscriptions. See references for a more comprehensive inventory. Pottery sherds from the site date back as far as Middle Minoan IA