The golden vitalizing sun, the superb beaches and the overwhelming landscape are most common features that attract visitors to Crete, however there is another natural attraction that is often overlooked, and that is the large number of interesting caves on the island.
Caves, those unique monuments of nature, have played a very decisive and important role in Crete: they were utilized in pre-historic times, they feature in Greek mythology and they were utilized throughout history for various religious and social purposes.
Caves can be classified into two categories, in accordance with their natural features and the manner in which they have been utilized: caves of archeological, religious and historic interest, and caves with a natural architectural interest.
One of the most interesting caves on the island is that of Faneromeni, in the wider municipal area of Hersonissos. This cave is situated above the village Avdou, on the edge of Lassithiotika Mountains, on the northwestern slopes of a hill called Louloudaki, at an altitude of 770metres.
The exploration of this magnificent cave involves a little patience, persistence and physical energy, but the effort is certainly worth it.
Plan a day trip to the cave. Start off in the early morning in order to catch the symphony of beautiful colors created by the play of light in the Plateau of Lassithi. First, stop at the picturesque and quaint village of Avdou; ask for directions to the cave from the locals, and soon you will find yourself walking along a forest path, surrounded by densely planted Holm-oak wood with a spectacular view of the surrounding valley and mountains.
The cave is 43metres long, 4 - 11,5metres wide and 2,5 - 8,5metres high. As you enter, you will see a small antechamber that is filled with stalagmites.
To the left of the antechamber, there is another spacious enclave with various stalagmites and stalactites. An abundant number of decorated stones and an awe-inspiring jellyfish shaped stone complex completes this magnificent spectacle.
The Cave of Faneromeni used to serve as a place of worship from the late Minoan period (1550 B.C.) to the Roman times. In excavations carried out by the famous archeologist Spiros Marinatos in 1937, three stone tablets, small double broad-axes, fine sword blades, stones with labyrinth-like inscriptions depicting naked women and bees were uncovered.
A trip in this cave complex will leave you feeling like you have crossed the threshold into a dreamy and enchanted world of a bygone era.