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CAVES

The Greek Speleological Society has recorded over 3.000 caves in Crete. Not only astounding examples of nature’s talent for interior decoration, many of them are also of great scientific value, being of archaeological, paleontological and historical interest.

Man used caves as places of wo9rkship, as well as dwellings from the Paleolithic era on.

The Minoans began the custom of workshipping their gods in small palatial or house shrines, in sacred caves and in shrines built on mountain peaks and the tops of hills.

The cave of Sentoni Zoniana , This is Crete’s richest cave in terms of natural decoration. It lies in the district of Rethimno, 13 km. west of Anogia and 1 km. from the village of Zoniana at an altitude of 800 m.

The Diktaian Cave (Dikteon Andron) . The legendary birthplace of Zeus, this can be reached by going to the outskirts of the village of Psihro (48 km east of Iraklio and 52 km. west of Agios Nikolaos), where is a path ascending to it. Significant archaeological finds indicate that the cave was long a place of cult worship. One can go from the village to the cave on foot or by mule or donkey, which can be rented from the locals. The descent into the fascinating cave demands some caution. Stalagtites of various shapes adorn the lower cave.

The Idaian Cave (Ideon Andron).    20 km south of Anogia on the upland plain of Nidas, on Mount Psiloritis, lies this sacred cave, where according to mythology, rhea hid the baby Zeus from the murderous Kronos. Cult objects have been found here, along with statues and bronze shields and other finds now on display in the Iraklio Archaeological Museum

The Cave of Eileithyia (Ilithiia) . This cave was used for cult rituals from the Neolithic era up to the 5th century B.C. Lying 1 km south of Amnissos, it was sacred to Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth. Archaeological investigations here uncovered idols of woman in the act of giving birth, nursing or praying, figures of animals, neolithic shells and tools.

The cave of Ag. Paraskevi Skotinou   22 km from Iraklio. This very interesting cave used for cult worship both in antiquity and during the Christian era.

The Kamares Cave . Northeast of the Village of Kamares (57 km from Iraklio) lies the cave of Kamares, established during the Minoan period as a sacred spot, possibly dedicated to the worship of the goddess Eileithyia. The wonderful Kamares vases, on display in the Archaeological Museum of Iraklio were found here. Visiting the cave entails a 4-hour walk from the village.

The Gerani cave of Rethimno  6km. From Rethimno, this is a cave of prehistoric, paleontogical and archaeological interest. Find from this cave may be seen in the Rethimno archaeological museum.

The Melidoni Cave . 3 km. From the village of Melidoni (26 km east of Rethimno), this was used for cult worship during the Neolithic, Minoan and Archaic periods.

 

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