Σπηλαιο Σφεντονη

Spilaio Sphentoni - Sfentoni Cave - Cave of Sendonis - Cave of Sfedoni - Zoniana Cave

H Tripa Tou Sendoni - The Hole of Sendoni


Useful Information

Location: The cave is located at Skafida in the village of Zoniana, on the slopes of Mount Psiloritis. This is 10km west of Anogia, 52km south of Rethymno, in the district of Mylopotamos. From the village of Zoniana take the road to Axos.
Open:  
Fee: Adults EUR 4. [2004]
Classification:  Karst cave.
Light:  
Dimension: A=630m asl, L=800m.
Guided tours: L=270m.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Anna Petrocheilou (1984): The Greek Caves, ISBN 960-213-135-7, 160 pages, 135 colour illustrations, p 128-131. Greek English Deutsch - German Français - French.
Address:  
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:55:34 $

History

The cave has been used as a habitation site since Neolithic times. A series of excavations shows seasonal inhabitation during the Early Minoan Period and random use during the Roman Period. Finally, during the Turkish Occupation the cave was again used as a refuge.

There is a legend attached to the cave of a little girl who's curiosity got the better of her. She found a crack in the rocks and crawled inside. Fascinated by what she found she wandered for days underground looking for the way out. Her family searched for days looking for her, but alas when they found her she was dead. She had such a sweet smile on her face that the villagers said she had been abducted by fairies.


Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.


Description

A roomy entrance chamber seems to end with a barrier of stalactite columns, but a narrow passage leads into a second chamber called ”The Ante-Chamber of the Harmonium„, this, like the following chambers, is all lavishly decorated with massive spelothems. Frequently massive columns appear to block the passage, but each time a narrow opening gives access to yet another chamber, in fact fourteen chambers in total, all with fanciful names from Greek mythology and nothing to do with the speleogenisis of the cave. The tour takes the shape of three figures of eight in the plan view. The path way criss crosses from one wall of the cave to the other before doing an about turn to exit via the entrance.


Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.

Spilaio Sphentoni is often called the most interesting cave of Crete. It is definitely one of the best developed. Increasing numbers of visitors made the renovation of the entrance area and parts of the cave installation necessary. The path to the cave entrance has been widened and allows easy access and because of its view it is a nice spot to wait for the next tour.

The cave is home to numerous troglobionts, like snails and insects. Those small animals are colourless and blind. There are also numerous cave visitors like bats. There favourite spots are easy to see: the bat guano colours the floor in black.

There is a legend how the cave got its name. It is called Sfentoni's Hole after a man named Sfentonis. He was a guerilla (greek: hainis) from Sfakia who had found refuge in the cave. On day he was discovered by a young man while cooking at the cave entrance. The man asked for something to eat. Sfentoni killed him as he feared the man might give him away. The legend tells he kicked him with his stivani, the traditional Cretan boot, so hard that he killed him.

Another legend tells about a beautiful fairy who used to hide in the cave and a sheperd. At a specific time of the day the fairy came out of the cave to drink some water at a neighbouring spring. A shepherd had seen her many times, but when he approached she always ran away into the cave. So one day he used his slingshot to catch her, but although she was hurt and blooding, she ran away. One version of the story tells she managed to escape but left a bloody handkerchief. Another version tells he approached the injured fairy, and attempted to kiss her. The fairy promised to give him a magic reel of silk, which would never come to an end, if he let her go. But the shepherd could not resist kissing her. So the fairy put "the curse of trembling hands" on him and his whole family.

The legend of the little girl as told above by Tony has a certain background. Some decades ago the skeleton of a small child was found at the end of the cave. The bones were covered by flowstone, which indicates a rather high age. There is nothing known how this child came into the cave. Probably it was lost, or it was a burial.


See also


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