The Melidoni Cave is a worthwhile
excursion destination in Crete by rental car. It is not
far from the town of Rethimno and the holiday resorts of
Panormo on the north coast of the island.
There is a free parking place in front of
the cave. You park your car and walk to the entrance of
the cave. The entrance fee is 4 Euro (as of 2017). The
Melidoni Cave begins 50 metres behind the entrance.
The cave entrance
The rock grotto on Crete today is mostly
called Melidoni Cave. In Greek it is called Gerontospilos.
Since this name is not easy for the foreign tourists, it
was renamed after the village Melidoni. The small village
is about 2 kilometres away..
One descends on sparsely lit steps. After
an estimated 80 steps or about two minutes you reach the
lowest point of a large room in the Melidoni Cave. The
room is more than 60 metres long and over 20 metres high.
The well done low lighting leaves an uncanny impression on
You see huge stalactites hanging from the
ceiling. From time to time you can feel a drop of water. A
path goes along the walls of the cave. After a few minutes
the tour is finished. One goes up the stairs again and
leaves the Melidoni Cave.
On a hot summer's day in Crete, a visit to
the year-round cool cave near the village of Melidoni is a
welcome refreshment. It actually consists of several
rooms, of which only one can be visited. The Melidoni Cave
was already inhabited in the Minoan period. Numerous
vessels, shards and a fireplace were found. These finds
are now housed in museums. Some of the paintings date from
other periods, for example from the Roman period.
Other indications point to the time of the
Turkish occupation. At that time the Melidoni Cave became
sadly famous. Local Cretans and resistance fighters
against the Turkish occupation hid in the cave rooms of
Melidoni in 1824. The Turkish occupiers set fire to the
entrance to suffocate the people in the cave. 340 Cretans
in the cave died in agony. For this event the Melodoni
Cave is famous in Crete and all Greece. Every child in
Crete knows the events of 1824. Like the
Arkadi Monastery, which is
not far away, the Melidoni Cave is a symbol of resistance
to the Turkish occupation of Crete in the 19th century.
The bones of the resistance fighters are kept in a shrine
at the bottom of the large cave chamber.
If you visit the cave of Melidoni, you will get a very
good little brochure about the history of the cave. It is
already included in the entrance fee and available in
different languages including German.
In front of the entrance there is a small café and a WC.
Most visitors do not need more than 30 minutes to visit
the Melidonia Cave. The walking time is about 10 minutes.
The village of Melidoni is worth a visit. It is a
traditional village, typical for the interior of Crete. At
the central square there are some classic kafenions. One
crosses the village and the village square by car if one
drives to the cave.
At the edge of the village of Melidoni there is an olive
oil factory worth seeing. Admission is free. One gets a
good overview of the history of olive oil production.
There is the possibility to buy high quality
olive oil from Crete at a reasonable price.
We visited the cave at the beginning of April. At this
time only about 10 other cave visitors were present. But
you can guess what is going on in summer. There are even
some hotels around Melidoni.
Directions to Melidoni
From the town
Panormo you cross the
underpass of the expressway. This can be found by
following the signs for Iraklio until the underpass.
Shortly after the underpass of the expressway, the
"Melidoni Cave" is signposted for the first time. At the
entrance to Perama, turn left. This is also signposted.
The total distance is 12 kilometres.
Map Melidoni Cave
From Bali Crete take the expressway
towards Rethimnon. At the entrance to Bali there is a sign
"Melidoni Cave 8 km". But we did not find the exit and
drove over Panormo. At the end we were after 22 km at the
If you have a good map and a rental car, you can continue
from Melidoni to the very interesting
monastery of Arkadi. You have
to find your own way through several villages. There are
signs to the monastery only shortly before the