The cave Neraidospilios

Astritsi

Neraidospilios Cave at Astritsi
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One of the many Neraidospilios caves (Fairy Caves) in Crete, and probably the most beautiful, is located by the village Astritsi. The name comes after the folk tradition of fairies that lived in the cave and charmed everyone that happened to pass by there and hear their songs. Whoever met the fairies, lost his speech. The cave Neraidospilios of Astritsi is located in the green valley of Kato Vrissi, a bit further down the cavernous church of St. John. The valley is full of plane, oak and cypress trees. The presence of water has always been catalytic in the area and there were three major springs which were regarded as sacred. These springs formed the river Tritonas, which is a tributary of the current river of Karteros.

The first spring is located at the starting point of the gorge and is the famous Kato Vrissi (Lower Fountain) of Astritsi. A few meters further down, we meet the second spring at the exit of the cave Neraidospilios, while by walking to the exit of the gorge we meet the third which that has now disappeared due to drilling works for irrigation. We can reach Neraidospilios by driving in a short dirt road from Kato Vrissi. The sizable opening of the cave in white soft limestone is impressive and despite its large size, it is hard to locate due to dense vegetation. The height of the cave is 4 meters and its width is 7 meters. Inside the cave there we can discern traces of human carvings; there is a stone table and a pit in the floor like a crypt that served as a sanctuary in ancient times. In and out the cave several vases and other devotional findings have been identified. According to mythology the river Triton was the birthplace of the Goddess Athena and this led many archaeologists to speculate that Neraidospilios was dedicated to the goddess Athena. Today the water springs at the exit of the cave is gathered to a small pond where there are several ducks and a recreation place.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: With archaeological importance
  • Accessibility: Paved road
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