Sfentoni cave in Rethymno prefecture is located 1 km to the northeast of , at site Myronos, on the southern slopes of Chalepa, 47 km far from Rethymno.
One of the most beautiful in Greece and Crete’s biggest, at an altitude of 630 meters, the cave was used as hideout in the past. According to local tradition, here was the refuge of Sfentonis, a rebel from Sfakia. One day he was sitting at the entrance baking meat and a young man approached him. Sfentonis, out of anger or fear of betrayal, kicked him so hard with his boot that the young man died. So the second name of the cave is justified – “the hole of Sfentonis”.
The Sfentoni cave was created by slow erosion of the limestone and covers an area of 3.300 m2. It is divided internally into 14 halls and, today, it is suitable for visitations and you will need a tour guide from Zoniana. The vertical slopes, up to 50 meters in height, stand like a natural wall on the northwestern side of the parking and recreation areas, shortly before the entrance.
Inside the Sfentoni cave or otherwise Zoniana cave, metal walkways with ropes were placed for safety and are accessible by people with disabilities.
Along the 270 meters of the cave route, visitors can admire huge pillars that create mazy compartments, stalactites and stalagmites in various forms and colors and, in many places, there are stone water-basins and “cave pearls”. The glow of tiny crystals of calcium carbonate is a magnificent spectacle. The cave is a home to many invertebrate species such as spiders, Pseudoscorpiones, Ιsopoda (slaters), Diplopoda (millipede) and many bats.
The Sfentoni cave besides its natural aesthetics has an archaeological value as the excavations showed that the cave has been used by shepherds for thousands of years. The dating of the ceramics found showed that there was a constant, but not intensive use of the cave as of the Neolithic Age to date. Also, there are findings of a skeleton of a child, who probably entered the cave and was lost after hours of wandering around. His covered with stalagmite material skeleton was found articulated decades ago out of the last hall, so called the hall of the Lost Child.
A little farther down from the cave, in site Skafidia, there is a spring of fresh water. The Sfentoni cave belongs to Natural Park and is a protected area by the UNESCO.
Summer Season: April 10 – October 31, daily 10:00 to 17:00
Winter season: November 1 – April 9, only Saturday and Sunday 10:30 to 14:30
Telephone number: 28340 61 734, 28 340 and 61 869 28340 61209 (Community of Zoniana)