Caves in Crete



Agia Paraskevi Cave at Skotino
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The cave of Agia Paraskevi is located in Gouves area, northwest of the village Skotino, with its entrance located at an altitude of 225m. In this cave the worshıp of the Cretan version of Goddess Artemıs (Diana), known as Vritomartis, took place. The pre-entry area is a sinkhole at the end of which there is the Byzantine church of Agia Paraskevi, dating back to the period of Venetian rule in Crete. Near the entrance, there is a large room called 'Great Temple' (length 130m, length, width 33m, height 30m.). It hosts impressive complexes of stalagmites and stalactites. The next room, the 'Altar' is smaller in size (24x8, 5x25) and there is evidence that sacrifices took part here.

In the far left of the first room, a descent of 6m leads to the 'Sanctuary', an underground room with dimensions 15x8x3m. From there, an ascending walkway leads, from another exit, back in the first room. Between the Altar and the Sanctuary, a path (legth: 12m, width: 1.5-2.5 m) ends in the 'House of Worship' (12x12x14) that reminds of a dome and has spectacular natural decor. A rise of 4m leads to the 'Hall of Prayer' and finally, a small narrow chamber is shaped (the locals call it 'church'). Church ruins were found here, without knowing to what saint it was dedicated. The length of the cave is 170m, with a total area of approximately 2.500 sq.m. and a touristic path of 450 meters.

Systematic excavations have not been done in the cave, but surveys have shown that it served as a place of worship in the Minoan period. Many of the stalagmites of the cave bear traces of treatment and are likely to have been objects of worship. The archaeologist P. Faure argued that the cave of Agia Paraskevi is the famous Labyrinth of Knossos and the Vrytomartis goddess was the dominant deity of the cave.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Horizontal Cave, With archaeological importance
  • Length (m): 450
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