Roman tombs of

Gra Mandra

Gra Mandra Tombs
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St. Thomas (Agios Thomas) is one of the most impressive mountain villages of Crete. This is mainly due to the rocks of the region that are easy to carve. Excellent monuments of carved architecture travel us to ancient times with carved Minoan presses, Roman tombs and cavernous temples. These combined with the impressive cliffs, the natural caves, the Byzantine churches and the lush green surroundings form magical scenery.

At the village of St. Thomas and south of the homonymous church a short path starts from the statue the local hero Demetrius Varouchas and after 2 minutes takes us into one of the most impressive archaeological sites of Crete at position Gria Mandra.

At Gria Madra there are numerous towering boulders and a trail passing between them. In many of these rocks Roman tombs have been carved and remain in excellent condition. The tombs cause awe to all visitors. There are about 30 tombs around Agios Thomas area.

Kera Spiliotissa Chthonic sanctuary

On the way to the abandoned settlement Ardachthia, we meet on our right hand a rock 'dressed' in ivy and the carved cavernous chapel of Kera Spiliotissa. Inside a recess, about 15 meters after the church, archaeologists discovered in 1910 the Greco-Roman inscription that we see today.

The label clearly states in Greek "ΘΕΑΙΣ ΔΗΜΗΤΡΙ ΚΑΙ ΚΟΡΗ ΛΑΡΚΙΑ ΑΡΤΕΜΙΣ ΕΚ ΤΩΝ ΙΔΙΩΝ", meaning “Dedicated to the goddesses Larkia Artemis, Demeter and Kori”, who were all deities of Hades. The residents of St. Thomas say that inside the church there was a chasm, the Gate of Hades, which has now been covered with cement.

All these suggest that St. Thomas was a site for worshiping in chthonic deities, i.e. the deities of Hades. Indeed even today, when someone dies from Agios Thomas, his clothes are dropped in an underground river so as to take them to the other world!

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Tombs, Sanctuary
  • Peak Period: Roman Era (69 BC - 395 AD)
  • Accessibility: Paved road
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