Caves

The most famous caves in Crete

There are over 3000 caves in Crete out of which only 850 have been explored. People used caves as places of worship and also as dwellings as far back as the Paleolithic Times. The Minoans began to worship their gods in small shrines in sacred caves or in shrines built on mountain peaks and tops of hills. In the caves there are stalagmites and stalactites which hang majestically and form various impressive decorations.
The most famous caves in Crete:
The cave of Sentoni Zoniana . This is Crete’s richest cave in terms of natural decoration Rethimno, 13 km. west of Anoghia and 1 km. from the village of Zoniana at an altitude of 800 m.
The Diktian Cave (Dikteon Andron) .The legendary birthplace of Zeus.
The Idaian Cave (Ideon Andron). 20 km. south of Anogia, on the plain of Nidas, on Mount Psiloritis, lies this sacred cave, where according to mythology, Goddess Rhea hid the baby Zeus from the murderous Kronos. Cult objects have been found here along with statues and bronze shields and other finds are displayed in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.
The Cave of Eileithyia (Ilithiia). This cave was used for cult rituals from the Neolithic era up to the 5th century B.C. Lying 1 km. south of Amnissos, it was dedicated to Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth. Archaeological excavations uncovered idols of a woman in the act of giving birth or praying. Figures of animals, neolithic fossils and tools were also found.
The Cave of Aghia Paraskevi Skotinou. 22 km. from Heraklion. This very interesting cave was used for cult worship both in antiquity and during the Christian era.
The Kamares Cave. Northeast of the village of Kamares (57 km. from Heraklion) lies the Cave of Kamares, established during the Minoan period as a sacred spot, possibly dedicated to the worship of the goddess Eilethyia. The impressive Kamares vases found in this cave are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. Reaching the cave entails a 4-hour walk from the village.
The Gerani Cave. 6 km. from Rethimno, this is a cave of prehistoric, paleontological and archaeological interest. Finds from this cave can be seen in the Rethimno Archaeological Museum.
The Melidoni Cave. 3 km. from the village of Melidoni (26 km east of Rethimno), this was used for cult worship during the Neolithic, Minoan and Archaic periods.