Caving in Crete

Kamilaris

Heraklion

Kamilaris Cave
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The cave Kamilari is an easily accessible and impressive cave of Psiloritis Mount. It is located just 200m from the 13th km of the old road connecting Heraklion with Rethymnon, near Tylisos, at an altitude of 267m. It has 200m long paths, while its entrance has a width of 10m and a height of 4m.

It is a very impressive cave because of the large size of the rooms. The first (about 35m in length) is used by local farmers, who have built and rough stonework inside it. The ceiling here is blackened by soot.The transition from the first room to the second largest room is done with an auxiliary 5m rope, because of the steep slope. The second room is about 5m long, 20m wide, 15m high and offers an impressive and voluminous cave decor.

Between the two rooms, there is formed a separate chamber a colony of bats is concentrated. The work of stone decoration is very rich and voluminous, with stalactites, stalagmites and coral-shaped columns, mainly concentrated in the last room. The air stream inside the cave indicates that there is another point connecting the cave with the cave extrerior.

According to a written testimony, the cave was probably used as a place of worship during the sub-minoan period (1100 BC) and the roman period (69-395 AD). Subminoan, protogeometric, geometric and possibly roman potsherds have been found. Perhaps Kamilari has been a place of worship to a kourotrofi deity, fact that later led to illegal excavations here. Kourotrofi (meaning Kouros-breeding) godess is the godess that raises Kouros in her hands. Kouros is probably Zeus. Throughout the centuries, shepherds have used Kamilari, especially the first room / chamber, as a place for keeping their animals safe.

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Kamilari is located close to Voulismeno Aloni (meaning “sunk threshing”), a sinkhole that has been formed by the collapse of a large circular cavern with a diameter of 95m and 15-38m height. Legend says that the threshing sank because people were working there on the day of the festival of Prophet Elias.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Horizontal Cave
  • Length (m): 200
  • Accessibility: Paved road

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