Caves in Crete

Caves in Crete

Everyone raves about Crete's beaches, its food, and its millennia-spanning history and antiquities. How many have explored its caves, though? This amazing island has so much to offer to guests. Besides the spectacular ancient ruins and palaces and the mouth-watering food, Crete has beautiful villages, valleys, and yes, even caves!

We suggest you put aside a couple of days to discover Crete's caves. After trekking, hiking, and walking, you can come back to your villa and dive in your private swimming pool to soothe and pamper yourself for an unforgettable experience.

If you want to explore Crete off the beaten track and would like to admire stalactites and stalagmites that are countless years old, then our island has got you covered. As a bonus, these wonders mix nature with mythology: one cave is considered the birthplace of Zeus, father of the gods, according to legend.

Dikteon Cave

Ancient Greek gods are notorious for their various escapades, and none more so than Zeus, father of the gods. Dikteon Cave is intrinsically linked with him, as legend has it that his mother, Rhea, hid him in the Dikteon Cave from his father, Kronos. In a morbid way typical of Greek mythology, Kronos knew from an oracle that one of his children would kill him, so he ate them as soon as they were born to keep his crown safe (as one does, presumably). Zeus' mother tricked Kronos, though, and hid Zeus away in the Dikteon Cave to keep him safe.

Much later, legend also has it that Zeus, in typical Zeus fashion, used the cave to frolic with some of the many women he fell in love with, like Europa.

As befits such a religious landmark, the cave was used by the Minoans as a major worship center. It is well-lit and has steps for visitors to wander around, which makes it a great place for families to explore geological formations and the pond and gape at the breathtaking views.

Melidoni Cave

Located near Rethymnon, Melidoni Cave was used by the Cretans to defy the Ottomans in 1824. During an uprising, 300 Cretans sought refuge in this cave and lived there thanks to their canny survival techniques. The Ottomans decided to put the cave on fire. Rather than leaving, Cretans inside preferred to suffocate, finding an untimely death.

Besides its historical importance, Melidoni Cave displays many stalactites, stalagmites, and other geological formations that testify to its natural importance.

The cave is well-lit and has pathways leading visitors to the geological wonders. There is also a shrine dedicated to the people who perished there 200 years ago.

Sfendoni Cave

Close to Heraklion, Sfendoni Cave is brimming with colorful geological formations: many visitors are astounded by the purple stalactites hanging from the ceiling of the cave, while you also get to enjoy white rock formations in the aptly named Christmas Chamber.

Stalactites and stalagmites are found everywhere as are pools and other crystal and rock wonders. The cave is beautifully lit to highlight the natural evolution it has undergone for thousands of years.

Elephant Cave

You might think that Elephant Cave got its name from a rock formation that's reminiscent of an elephant—and yet, you would be wrong. There are actual elephant bones from an unknown elephant species that were found in the cave. Now that is something you don't find every day, especially in Greece!

While the presence of animal bones is proof that the cave was not always immersed in water, it is now entirely submerged. As an underwater cave, Elephant Cave is a great place for diving, snorkeling, and discovering natural wonders. Red stalactites shine through the water and above.

Elephant Cave is close to Chania and well worth exploring as a one-day excursion.

Cave of Agia Sophia

The Agia Sophia cave has it all: stalactites, stalagmites, and an ancient Byzantine church. It is also located close to the astonishing Elafonissi beach. After exploring the cave, take a detour, dive into the crystal water of the sea, and take time to laze on the beach.

Agia Sophia is the second-largest cave in Crete. Archeologists have uncovered Neolithic utensils there, proving that the cave was already used by humans over 10,000 years ago. The cave is brimming with stalactites, stalagmites, and beautiful geological formations.

As for the Byzantine church, it's a unique underground church. The church was used regularly during the Byzantine era. When Crete fell to the Ottomans, they built a minaret that is still standing today.

Other Caves to Explore in Crete

There are many more caves to discover in Crete, thanks to the interesting mountainous landscape that forms the island's spine. Many caves were used by ancient civilizations as homes or for worship. Apart from the aforementioned caves, visitors can also discover the Skotino Cave near Heraklion, the Saint Seven Children Cave near Chania, the Panagia Arkoudiotissa Cave close to Chania, and the Chainospilios Cave near Heraklion.

Some caves require gentle hiking. This is the best way to discover the astonishing scenery and the views from up the mountains before exploring the caves.

An Extraordinary Journey

Crete's caves are more than mere geological marvels. They are a tapestry rich with the threads of history, mythology, and natural splendor. Each cave, with its unique formations of stalactites and stalagmites, holds stories that span millennia, from ancient gods to legendary heroes. They beckon not just as destinations for the curious traveler but as sacred spaces that demand our reverence and protection.

As you set out to explore these mystical caverns, remember that you're not just a spectator, but a part of their ongoing story. Treat them with care, so they continue to inspire and awe for generations to come. Crete's caves are not just destinations to be checked off a list: they are portals to a world of wonder, waiting for you to discover their secrets and keep the magic alive.

Crete being an island, the sea is never too far, so dive into the Aegean Sea or even the Libyan Sea after a day of discovery and exploration. And when you come back to the amazing villa you picked from among our special offers for Cretan villas, dine al fresco and discuss with your loved ones the wonders you just witnessed, gaze at the stars, and wrap up an unforgettable day under the starlit sky !

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