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Crete is the largest island in Greece with a truly ancient history. The recorded history of Crete traces back to the Minoans (who predated Greeks on the island). The Minoan civilization was one of the oldest sophisticated civilizations known and lasted during the Aegean Bronze Age. Besides its ancient history, Crete is also home to lots of stunning geographic features and beautiful landscapes.

Tourists visit Crete every year for its stunning Mediterranean beaches, but there are also many other attractions inland. One of the hidden gems is the cave of Agia Sofia. One should put this ancient cave on one's bucket list of things to see on a weekend on the island of Crete.

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The Size & Beauty Of Agia Sofia Cave

The cave of Agia Sofia (meaning Santa Sophia) is located 47 km southwest of the town of Chania. The entrance to the cave is huge, and inside it has two rooms (whose surface is full of stalagmites). Enter the cave and see its cupola 20 meters (60 feet) high, stalactites, and stalagmites.

Cave Entrance:

  • Width: 25 Meters
  • Height: 20 Meters (In Some Points)

On the left side of the cave entrance is a small church that is dedicated to Hagia Sophia (Wisdom of God).

The stalagmites are huge - some measure a staggering five to six meters. The stalactites above had an equally massive size. But the cave is so large that they still have a long way to go before they join up and meet in the middle. This cave is around the height of a five-story building.

There is also come humidity in the cave, and the rocks are covered by moss in many places.

It may not be the largest or the most spectacular cave in the world, but it is one with a lot of humble history and one of Crete's hidden gems.

Related: 10 Fun Things To Do On The Beautiful Island Of Crete

A Place Of Worship & History Since Ancient Times

Since ancient times the cave has been an important place of worship. A clay figurine has been discovered in the caves that date from the 4th century BC. Pottery traces spanning ancient times have been discovered, including the Neolithic, Early Minoan, Late Minoan, Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman times.

One of the most interesting Minoan attractions in Greece today is the ash-covered ancient Minoan city of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini (kind of like an older Pompeii).

  • Used: Since The 4th Century BC

As one may expect from a cave of this age, there are various legends associated with the cave. One of the more popular stories is one that relates to St. George (the famous dragon slayer). It is said that the hoof of St. George's horse left an imprint on one of the rocks in the cave.

  • St. George: Legend Associates St. George With The Cave

According to Explore Crete, there are also stories that the cave is not fully explored. There are suspicions that the cave extends into neighboring caves.

Here in the cave, visitors are connected to the long history of the cave, the spiritual attachment to the cave, and the many pigeons of the area.

Related: Crete Vs. Cyprus: Which Is The Best Eastern Mediterranean Island?

Visiting The Cave Of Agia Sofia

The road itself to the cave of Agia Sofia is stunning. It connects Elafonissi beach and Kissamos village, leading along the stunning Gorge Topolia. Along this road, one is bounded by a sheer rock face on one side and a deep chasm on the other. The gorge plunges down around 300 meters (1,000 feet).

Park on the road by the Panorama Café tavern and take the path up to the cave. To get up to the cave, visitors need to climb up a few steps and then follow a small path. As one approaches the cave, one will see just how big the entrance is, and the quaint church there comes into view. The church itself is small and rather ordinary (it lacks architectural and hagiographical features).

  • Church: Modest Typical Greek Orthodox Church
  • Open: Every Day Between 8 am and 8 pm
  • Admission: Free
  • Celebration Days: 24th December and The Tuesday After Easter

Two holidays are reportedly celebrated every year in the cave of Agia Sofia. These are the Tuesday after Easter and December the 24th.

If one would like to see more of Crete than just the many beaches, consider visiting the island's ancient caves as well.