Near the cave is a large free car park. You park your car and walk to the entrance of the cave. The entrance fee is 4 Euros (in April 2017). The Melidoni Cave starts 50 meters behind the entrance.
Today the cave is mostly called Melidoni. In Greek it is also called Gerontospilos. Since this name is not easy for foreign tourists, it was named after the village Melidoni. The small village is just 2 kilometers away.
You descend on sparsely illuminated steps. After an estimated 80 steps or about two minutes you reach the deepest point in the large chamber of the Melidoni cave. The chamber is more than 60 meters long and over 20 meters high. The well-made low lighting leaves a sinister impression on the visitor.
You can see huge dripstones hanging from the ceiling. From time to time you can feel a water drop. A path goes along the walls of the cave (about 5 minutes). Then you walk back up the stairs and leave the Melidoni Cave.
On a hot summer day in Crete, the visit of the year-round cool cave near the village of Melidoni is pleasant. Actually, it consists of several chambers, of which only one can be visited. The Melidoni Cave was already inhabited during the Minoan period. Numerous vessels and a fireplace were found. These findings are now in museums. Some paintings in the cave are from other periods, for example from the Roman time.
Other references indicate the time of the Turkish occupation. At that time, the Melidoni Cave gained sad fame. Local Cretans and resistance fighters against the Turkish occupation hid in 1824 in the caves of Melidoni. The Turkish occupants placed fire at the entrance and killed the people in the cave. 340 Cretans in the cave died. For this the Melodoni Cave is famous in Crete and all over Greece. Every child on Crete knows the incidents from 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 below in the large cave chamber.
When you visit the Melidoni cave, you will get a very good brochure about the history of the cave. It is already included in the entry price and is available in various languages including English.
In front of the entrance is a small cafe and a toilet. Most visitors do not need more than 30 minutes to visit the Melidoni cave. The walking time is about 10 minutes.
The village of Melidoni is worth seeing. It is a traditional village, typical of the island's interior of Crete. At the central square there are some classic kafenions (coffee shops). You drive through the village and the village square when you go to the cave.
Near the village of Melidoni there is a interesting olive oil factory. Admission is free. You get a good overview of the history of olive oil production in the area. It is possible to buy high-quality olive oil from Crete in the factory.
We visited the cave in early April. At this time, there were only about 10 other visitors in the cave. There are many more in summer. Even some hotels are now around Melidoni.
Road to Melidoni Cave
From Panormo you cross the motorway through a subway. It can be found by following the signs to Iraklio. Shortly after the subway the "Melidoni Cave" is signposted for the first time. At the beginning of the village Perama turn left. This is also signposted. Overall the distance is 12 kilometers. From Bali take the expressway direction Rethimno.
Map Melidoni Cave
If you have a good map and a rental car, you can continue from Melidoni to the very interesting Arkadi Monastery.
Information about other caves on the island you find on this page.
The author: My name is Jorgy. I am German and I have been living in Crete for more than 10 years. I translated this article from German into English. I am not a native English speaker. When I find a proofreader, the quality of the article will improve. If you know somebody who wants to help me, please write me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org