Caves in Crete



Kryonerida Cave
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The cave Krionerida is located in the ravine Laggos, southwest of the village Vafes, at an altitude of 230m. The cave has no special speleological value, but it has enormous historical importance, as the residents of Vafes were killed here by the Turks in 1821. Indeed, the wider region of Krionerida was named so after this historic cave.

The entrance has a width of 1.8m and height 1.5m. It consists of four rooms, with the first being the larger, while the second contains the bones of the victims of the Turkish atrocity. The last room has a spring of water, after which the cave takes its name (kryonerida means a place with cool water in Greek).

In August 1821, 130 residents of Vafes village hid from the Turks in this cave. It is said that when the area was approached by some Turks, a baby started crying in the cave revealing them. Thus, the Turks tried to enter the cave, but due to its narrow entrance, only one man could enter each time, while crawling. Thus, the first Turks were killed by the unarmed women, who killed the intruders with every mean they found. Having no other choice, the Turks killed them in the same way that Christians were exterminated in the cave of Melidoni: They gathered woods at the entrance of the cave, lit fire and the besieged locals died of suffocation (only seven of them survived). At the entrance of the cave you’ll meet a shrine, and the memory of the dead is celebrated every August around 20 (closest Sunday).

The Cave of St. John

Almost opposite Krionerida cave, within a recess of a rock there is the very old church of St. John. It is said that once one Turk saw a picture of the Saint and wanted to desecrate it. He took out his cutlass and broke that. But some minutes later, he lied dead after slipping and falling from the roof of the church.

In the ravine of Laggos, except Krionerida cave, there is another cave, Kalamato, which is labyrinthine, with small booths, potholes, stalactites and stalagmites. The cave can be accessed only by experienced cavers.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Chania Prefecture
  • Type: Horizontal Cave
  • Water: Generally dry

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