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Eileithyia Cave in Tsoutsouras
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The Cave of Eileithyia is formed very close to the point where the road from Heraklion meets the coastal road of Tsoutsouras, at the site of the ancient town Inatos. Its entrance, which is sealed for safety reasons by the Archaeological Service, is accessed via a very short path with stairs starting from the main road. The cave was initially a sinkhole, as there was only the opening on its roof. But in the ancient era the south side was carved to open its current entrance.

The cave of Eileithyia is considered one of the most important worship caves of antiquity, from the early geometric years to the early Christian (5th century). Eileithyia was worshiped, the daughter of Zeus and Hera; Eileithyia was the goddess of childbirth, female fertility and protector of pregnant women and babies.

In Eileithyia cave, objects were dedicated by women who could not conceive a child or before giving birth. The goddess Eileithyia is also associated with sexual orgies and, according to some, her worship was the ancestor of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

In fact, the tributes come from Syria, Palestine and Egypt, revealing the great reputation of the sanctuary throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. Similar caves dedicated to Eiliethyia were located in other parts of Crete, with the most famous being the Amnisos Cave near Heraklion.

As in most of the sacred caves in Crete, in Tsoutsouras cave, official archaeological research arrived a long after the smugglers, resulting in important finds being lost and preserved as legends in the memories of the locals. Among the findings brought to light by the archaeologist Nikolaos Platon are phallic sculptures, clay sculptures of embraced couples, coins, sacred vessels, jewelry, tiles, and more. Most of them are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Horizontal Cave, With archaeological importance

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