Sfentoni Cave in Zoniana, Crete
One of the most interesting caves on Crete is in the village of
Zoniana, just 43 km from Heraklion and 52 km from Rethymnon. The
quaint village of Zoniana, which has a long and intriguing history,
is situated 630 meters up on Psiloritis Mountain (Mount Idi) in the
Mylopotamos region of the Rethymnon Prefecture. Zoniana is the village's
modern name - prior to 1920 it was called Zeus' Pit, possibly
named after the God Zeus. The main occupation of the residents is
As you drive up the mountain road into Zoniana, which is located
just a short distance from the renowned village of Anogeia, you will
see the sign for the famous Sfentoni Cave, or Sfentoni's Hole, one
of the island's most beautiful caves, extensively adorned with stalactites
Following the signs will bring you to the parking lot which affords
a panoramic view of the area. In the parking lot is a kiosk where
you can purchase tickets to the cave at 4 Euros each (2004).
As you are not allowed to enter the cave on your own, the ticket
price includes the services of a well-trained guide, who is responsible
for both your personal safety and the protection of the cave. The
guides, all of whom are residents of the village who grew up playing
children's games in and around the cave's galleries before it was
open to visitors, are well versed in explaining all about the deep,
dark secrets of this fascinating attraction.
Map of the Cave in Zoniana
There is a paved path leading from the kiosk to the mouth of the
cave, which originally was only about a meter wide. Since the cave
has become such a popular site, the entrance was opened up and adapted
to provide a comfortable and safe access for the great number of
Upon entering the interior, you will walk, together with the guide,
on metal corridors with ropes on each side, which allow for an additional
feeling of security, especially while walking on sloping paths.
The impressive 3000-square-meter cave allows a 270-meter walk, providing
visitors with breathtaking sights of how Mother Nature patiently "creates" an
aesthetic spectacle by using mineral-rich water drops.
Huge columns create puzzle-like spaces. Innumerable stalactites
and stalagmites of various shape and colour adorn the halls of the
cave, while hollowed-out water basins and "cave pearls" can be found
throughout the cavern, where the sparkle of microscopic calcium crystals
is especially impressive.