Caves in Crete



Agios Antonios Cave at Patsos
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Τhe cave of Saint Anthony (Agios Antonios) is located below an imposing rock shelter in the lush green gorge of Patsos (also known as Agios Antonios gorge), north of the village Patsos. It is also known as Cave of Hermes, as stated in the devoting Greek incription "Ερμή Κραναίω, Δώρος Στεφάνω ευχήν (Kraneos Hermes)".

Today the worship of the god Hermes has given its seat to the chapel of Saint Anthony, the saint of the caves and the patron of children. It is interesting to see the thousands of tiny paper notes with wishes of the visitors, which are in almost every hole of the rock around the cave. The water dripping from the roof of the cave is concentrated in a container and is considered "holy". Accessing the cave and the gorge is very easy, as paths have been created with various aesthetic interventions by the Department of Forests. About 300 meters to the south there is a second small cave, Fournaré.

In 1885-6 there have been some excavations by F. Halbherr, at the site of the chapel. Among the findings were anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines, which are now exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. In 1894 more findings were revealed and were sold to Arthur Evans, today being hosted in the Museum of Oxford. The most recent excavations took place in 1989 by the Greek Classical Antiquities Authority and showed that the Minoan cult was mainly limited below the rock shelter; animal bones were found that had been put on the fire, as well as pottery-figurines. The same excavations revealed a statuette of the mythical god Pan.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Rethymnon Prefecture
  • Type: With archaeological importance
  • Accessibility: Walking

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