Cave of Agios Antonios

The cave of Agios Antonios is located north of the Patsos village in the verdant Patsou gorge. This cave, which was also called the cave of Kranaios Hermes, was a religious center of Kranaios Hermes. Kranaios Hermes was one of the most popular Gods of Cretans, to whom they would appeal for fertility of the land and the animals. His sanctuary was located in the rockshelter, where now the chapel of Agios Antonios is, and extends over the hill slope all the way down to the spring. The ancient sanctuary had existed here from the Minoan years until the end of Roman rule (2000 BC – 4th century AD).

Shortly after entering the Patsou gorge, under the rockshelter, a cavernous church of Agios Antonios can be found, the patron saint of the children. About 300 meters further to the south, there is a second small cave called Fournare.

According to the excavations made by F. Halbherr in 1885, at the site where now the church is, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines were found, now being displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklio, while the findings of 1894 were sold to Sir Arthur Evans and now can be found in the Museum of Oxford.

Recent excavations inside the cave of Agios Antonios conducted in 1989 by the Ephorate of Classical Antiquities unearthed ceramic figurines, a statue of the mythical god Pan and animal bones indicating that the Minoan cult was celebrated mainly in the rockshelter.

The cave of Agios Antonios is open to public, since it was slightly renovated by the Forestry Department.

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