Melidoni cave - Gerontospilos - Crete - Greece

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The Melidoni cave is on the "Old Heraklion Road" between Rethymno and Heraklion. It is one of the three large caves on Crete which is open for tourists. The other two are the Sfendoni cave near Zoniana and the Dikti cave on the Lasithi plateau.

The history of the Melidoni cave

The Melidoni cave has been inhabited almost continuously since the Stone age. During excavations artifacts have been found from this age. During the Minoan times the Melidoni cave was used for religious ceremonies. During this age the Great Mother Goddes was worshipped, but probably also the bronze giant Talos. The bronze giant Talos was a son, or at least a creation of the god of Blacksmiths Hephaestus (Vulcan). Talos was made completely of bronze and had one live vain through which supposedly divine blood was flowing. By the hands of Argonauts in corporation with Medea the bronze pin, which kept the blood from flowing from his body, was removed from the body of Talos, after which he died. During his life Talos had, by order of king Minos, crossed Crete three times a day to chase away or kill all strangers.
During the Greek age Hermes and Zeus were worshipped in the Melidoni cave.

During the 19th century the Melidoni cave played an important role in the resistance against the Turkish rulers. The inhabitants of Melidoni took part in the resistance time and again which made the towns people targets of the Turkish rulers. When the Turkish rulers executed revenge actions, the villagers fled in the Melidoni cave.
During Novembers 1823, 370 villagers sought refuge in the cave, together with 20 - 60 resistance members. The Turkish commancer, Hoessein Pasja surrounded the cave and demanded surrender. The request was denied and the Turks attacked the cave and lost 24 soldiers. Hoessein Pasja was so infuriated by this loss that he ordered burning material to be thrown into the cave. Then the entrance to the cave was blocked. All the people in the cave died because of a lack of oxygen. A large white tomb has been placed inside the cave in which all the bones of the people were lain to rest. Every year the people of Crete come together in the chapel besides the cave to remember their dead.

The cave can be reached by 61 steps. The cave itself consists of three separate rooms, of which one is accessible for tourists. The chamber consists of one big room with stalagmites and stalactites. In the cave it can be very slippery, so be careful when walking around.

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