Skotino Cave is a very important sacred cave in Crete and one of the
deepest with a depth of 160 metres and four levels. It was first investigated
by Evans, and in 1962 archaeologist K. Davaras carried out a systematic excavation.
He found parts of vases, bone needles, and Late Minoan bronze figurines dating
from the Neolithic to Roman periods. Like many other caves, it appears to have
had some religious importance. Some people even believe this was the labyrinth
of the legendary Minotaur.
This text is cited Feb 2003 from the Crete TOURnet URL below, which contains image.
This is one of the three largest caves in the prefecture of Heraklion
and is at a height of 225 m. above sea-level The entrance to the cave is impressive:
a large arch, 27 m wide and 10 m high. To the right one can see the ruins of an
ancient chapel on which the modern chapel dedicated to Aghia Paraskevi was built.
There is a feast held in front of the chapel on July 26th .A path goes down from
the entrance and leads to a large and imposing chamber called "Mega Nao", 130
m long, 33 m wide and 30 m high. It includes a vast number of stalagmites. Deeper
into the cave and to the right there is an impressive collection of stalactites,
some reaching the floor. Different shapes can be made out: the head of a woman,
a smiling child, a lying dog, a bear. Finally, further downhill, there is a smaller
chamber, known as the altar where sacrifices were carried out, 24 m long, 8.5
m wide and 25 m high. Drains on the surface of the floor were used most certainly
for libations and offerings to the god of the underworld (blood, oil, wine and
To the left of the first chamber, the "Adyton" measures
15 x 8 x 2.3 m, and leads to another entrance to the cave. The most spectacular
chamber, known as the "Adoration Hall", between the Altar and the "Adyton",
lies 50 m underneath the level of the entrance, is vaulted and measures 12 x 12.5
x 10-15 m. A large corridor, 12 m long and 2 m wide, leads to this chamber which,
in winter, is flooded up to one third of its height. Higher up, the "Praying
Room" is smaller (7.5 x 5 m) and has a large number of stalactites and stalagmites
forming columns that give this chamber a particular charm. You can read a great
many names that have been inscribed on the walls of the cave through the years.
Finally, a small space, known locally as "the little chapel", is 12.5
m long and 1.5 to 5 m wide. The length of the visit is 450 metres and the overall
surface of the cave is over 2500 square metres. It goes without saying that this
impressive cave is a great tourist attraction and is well worth a visit. Excavations
have been carried out in the Aghia Paraskevi cave. In 1933, Evans and Pendlebury
proceeded to the first excavations. P Faure followed suit in 1953 and, more recently,
in 1962, the archaeologist Davaras. The archaeological finds indicate that the
cave was - and is - a sanctuary over a very long period, i.e. since the middle
Minoan years (1900 BC) to Roman times. It was then turned into a Christian sanctuary
and continues to function as such. From several offerings that have been found
in the cave and certain indications on the columns of the stalactites and stalagmites,
it seems the cave was at one period dedicated to the goddess Britomartis. Paul
Faure, after a prolonged study, came to the conclusion that this cave is actually
the famous labyrinth of Knossos.
This text is cited Jan 2004 from the Interdynamic S.A. URL below, which contains images