Explore Underground Crete

Caves

It is a Spelunker's World

Cavers say that Crete has some of the most
challenging and spectacular caving systems in Europe
but even first-time cavers can enjoy its underground scenery.

Caving | Zoniana | Idaean | Diktaean | Melidoni | Cave Diving

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Caving

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The existence of numerous caves is inextricably linked to the rugged topography of Crete. People lived in caves thousands of years ago, as evidenced by the prehistoric carvings in the cave Skordilakia by Asfendou. Moreover, today's religious tradition in the caves, which hosts cavernous chapels, is an evolution of the worship of ancient gods inside caves.

Originally, the Minoans worshipped their major deities, such as Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, in caves. Later, they placed the birth and upbringing of the king of the gods, Zeus, in the Diktaean and Idaean caves, turning them into important religious centers. During the Byzantine era, caves which according to tradition hosted Saints, such as Saint Paul, Gerasimos and John Xenos, were converted to important ascetic communities. Many pages of Cretan history were also written in the caves of Crete, such as the massacres in the caves of Melidoni, Milatos, Krionerida, Xotikospilios and Tigani at Gramvousa.

Many caves are of very high speleological and ecological significance. Caves with rich decoration which are open to visitors are the Diktaean Cave by Psychro, Gerontospilios by Melidoni and Sfendonis by Zoniana. Besides the caves of religious or historical value, Crete has more than 4.500 mapped caves and sinkholes, available to each experienced speleologist who wants to enjoy their rich decoration and fauna. Areas that host a large number of caves, ideal for cavers, is mount Stroumboulas by Heraklion, the Geopark of Sitia, the Geopark of Psiloritis and Melidoni area in the White Mountains. The three deepest explored sinkholes in Greece are all located in Crete. 

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Drakolaki Cave

The cave Drakolaki is a long underground river located on the southern slopes of Peak Thodoris at White Mountains, at the upper part of the canyon Aradena. It is actually the starting point of one of the basic ravines that merge and form Aradena Gorge.

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Arkalohori Cave

The cave of Arkalochori, also known as Holy Cave, is situated at the South West side of Arkalochori village, specifically at the south west aisle of Profitis Ilias Church, 400m above sea level. A narrow entrance (0.70cm wide, 1.60cm tall) leads to the interior, where one cannot walk upright due to lack of space.

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Sfakias Cave

One of the very beautiful caves that characterize this region is the cave near the exit of the wild gorge of Sfakias. The marine cave of Sfakias is not simply a sea cave but a system of holes and rooms. It has 6-7 different entrances and a few meters inside the cave, all the corridors are merged to a common cave.

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Koumarospilios Cave

It consists of two rooms with different levels and relatively rich cave decoration. Both surveys revealed pottery of Neolithic and Minoan era. Specifically, the main use of the cave as a residence focuses on Neolithic period (3650/3500 - 2900 BC) and is was reused as shelter during the Late Minoan (1300-1250 BC) period.

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Marathokefala Cave

The Cave of Marathokefala or Marathospilios is located next to the village of Kynigiana, 29km southeast of Rethymno. In Mylopotamos area, where it is located, several caves have been found.

 

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Lavyrinthaki Cave

Cave Lavyrinthaki is located 50km south of Heraklion, on a small hill between Plouti and Moroni. It is a small ancient quarry, with an approximately large room of 300 sq. meters, while the height at some point reaches 4m. There are several columns for supporting the roof.

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Ellinospilios Cave

Ellinospilios cave is a beautiful cave of Afrata area where significant archaeological findings have been revealed, such as tombs. In some places there are ponds with water, where bubbles float from calcareous material, considered a rare cavernous material. With the slightest water turbulence bubbles break and produce a noise like tearing of fabric.

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Hosto Nero Cave

The cavern of Hosto Nero is found in the region Selia of Youchtas mountain near the road that leads to the top of Afentis Christos. It is located at an altitude of about 720 meters in the southern top of the holy mountain and in order for anyone to see it he/she has to enter through a narrow hole. This cavern has 3 rooms and many corridors that connect them all with the first room of 7 meters length that has enough light because of its big opening.

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