Nida Plateau lies at the heart of the Psiloritis or Ida range. Its name comes from a contraction of the words “στην Ιδα” (stiN Ida). In shape, it is roughly triangular, with its shortest side at the south, the so-called Passage of Milias, through which the southern foothills towards Mesara can be accessed. East of the plain is the peak of Skinakas. Here at a height of 1750 m, we find the only Astronomical Observatory on Crete.
The plain is quite flat and covered by a weed called nevrida or chrysochorto by the locals (it gradually turns the teeth of the sheep golden!). The Nida region in earlier times, before the rise of organized farming and the logging of its fir trees had drastically reduced its flora, had been heavily wooded.
The plateau of Nida is where according to mythology and traditional tales various things happened. Firstly, the Goddess Demeter fell in love with the mortal Iasion and the Renaissance hero Charidemos chased and caught his beloved hereabouts. In more recent history, the locals from the region took refuge on Nida during the many uprisings; in the German Occupation, it was also a centre of resistance. Today the plateau of Nida is a rich ranching area. One of its most characteristic features is the presence of dry-stone mitata which are scattered across it. Recent and determined efforts have been made to develop alternative forms of tourism here. The mitata have been repaired, the archaeological site of the Idaean cave and the Ascension church have been planted about with trees and the infrastructure for visitors to stay has been put in place with regard to the ecological centre and athletic activities.
In the summer, a taverna serving traditional foods operates. The famous village of Anogia also belongs to the region; it lies 22 km off. Nature lovers can take advantage of the E4 European long-distance trail that connects Anogia to Nida. The path is best attempted during the summer or spring months due to the heavy snow. Another route will take you south towards the forest of Rouvas through various small gorges found in the area. Here you will also find the cave of “Ideon Andron” on the west side of the plateau where legend has it the Greek Olympian god was born.