Caving in Greece in Crete


Once a sacred spot of Minoan worship the cave of Agia Sofia is now famous for its mammoth stalactites and stalagmites.
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Approximately a ten minute walk from Gouverneto Monastery in Akrotiri is Arkoudospilios Cave. A footpath through the Avlaki Gorge is easily followed.
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Located approximately 6 km northwest of Paleochora near a small village called Azogires, the Cave of the Holy Fathers is an impressive cave system with a moving spiritual history.
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Also known to many Greeks as the 'deepest cave' Gourgouthakas is located in an area of the White Mountains (Ta Lefka Ori) known as Atzinolakos.
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The cave where Zeus was supposedly brought-up lies just above the Nidra plateau.
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This is one for those who like their caves at a high elevation. Situated 1,700 metres above sea level, Kamares, also known as Kamaraiko, is accessable by a trail leading north, and upwards from the village of Kamares.
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Located on the south coast, and were most likely used as dwelling places from neolithic times, before being converted into burial chambers during the Roman and early Byzantine era.
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In Greek mythology, this is the spot where the great god Zeus was supposed to have been born (though some say that the more likely spot is at Petsofas on the east coast).
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Sometimes called Cronos Cave, this cave can be found on the Lasithi plateau, near the village of Tzermiado, at an elevation of 660 metres. Bones found within have been dated back to neolithic times (pre 3,600 BC).
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Aghia Photini Cave, can be found 7 KMs south of the village of Avdou, on the mountain of Louloudaki, and at an elevation of 760 metres. It is 44 metres deep, and has paths covering close to 700 metres. It is still used as a church, hence the name of the feminine saint, Photini.
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An interesting cave as it also doubles-up as a church. It lies in the village of Patsos, north-west of Spili and was used during Minoan through Roman times as a place of worship. Minoan finds from this cave are displayed in both the Herakleion museum and in Oxford's Ashmolean.
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Located south west of the village of the same name, and 400 metres above sea-level, is yet another cave of tremendous archaeological importance (see archaeology).
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Lies a kilometre south of Amnissos. Once again the archaeological importance cannot be overstated, and is mentioned on a Linear B tablet in association with offerings of honey to Eileithyia, at Amnisos.
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Close to Gerani beach, this cave's opening was blocked off for some 5,000 years, before being rediscovered in the 1960's. All archaeological finds therefore could be dated to the Neolithic and predate the period we know as 'Minoan'.
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The "caves" here are actually quarries, probably channelled by children, given their size, and are inaccessible. They are worth mentioning here, as the openings can still be seen, and for many years, this was thought to be the site of the Labyrinth, now accredited to Knossos.
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Some 80 KMs south of Herakleion, in the 3KM long Agiofarago gorge, which is situated close enough to Matala to be easily accessable from there. A small opening leads into a large area beneath ground.
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Located near the Minoan site of Tylissos, and in common with many other caves had been used in the past as a place of worship. Large rooms with stalagmites and stalactites, make this a great place to visit for even those with no great interest in speleology.
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This cave lies slightly east of the site of Eleutherna, close to the village of Kynigiana, as has a depth of some 150 metres.
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The scene for the massacre of some 350 Greek men, women and children by the Turks, in the 1823, who blocked the entrance and lit a fire, suffocating those trapped inside. This is a tremendously moving spot and can be found a couple of kilometres north-west of the village of the same name.
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It is found some 25 km from Herakleion, not far from the village of Myrtia. Situated by a river, with highly mythological associations, for the ancients, who believed this to be the dwelling place of nymphs and fairies.
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Also known as ‘Nychteridospilios’ (The original ‘Bat Cave’?), is an extremely large cave close to the village of the same name, and a height of 276 metres. As with others, it was used as a refuge by the Greeks during the 298 year Ottoman occupation and has a exceptionally complex interior.
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The cave at Sfendoni - reached via Zoniana - is 3,000 square metres, and has a path of 270 metres. There is a charge to enter, as visitors are no allowed to enter alone for reasons of safety.
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Lies at altitude of 225 meters just north of the village of Skoteino near Gouves. Findings here include votive offerings and an inscription dating back to the 4th C BC, but now thought to be fake. There is a Byzantine church close, hence the alternative name of Saint Paraskevi. Skotino means "dark".
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Tafkoura cave is the second deepest in Greece, situated close to the Nida Plateau. It reaches a depth of 860 metres and an overall length of six and a half kilometres.
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