Exploring the Secrets of Milatos Cave / Video

Milatos Cave, an Amazing Place with a Dramatic Story Behind It

 Happy for our good friends' visit, Marius and Daniela, and thrilled by the morning sun, we set up a trip in nature with a bit of relaxation and adventure. From our meeting place, at the exit of Stalis, we estimate that we will reach the Milatos Cave in an hour, one of the hidden treasures of the island. Among the over 4,500 mapped caves and grottoes, with an incomparable speleological and ecological value, Milatos Cave is famous for its mystery and beauty, especially for its historical and religious significance, witnessing dramatic events Ottoman occupation.

 The route is nice and easy. The road seeps smoothly into the mountain and as we ascend, we stop several times, letting us admire the delightful and breathtaking view that opens in front of our eyes: steep slopes with dwarf shrub vegetation, rocky landscapes, spectacular golden bays embroidered with turquoise waters, olive groves and orange orchards bathed in the glowing sunlight of the early summer.

 On the way, we stop to visit an old church, which overlooks the Gulf of Milatos, entirely adorned with olive groves. For a few minutes, we sit in silence, sniffing the scent of wild herbs and peering at the horizon. A deep breath of Crete. The sky seems to unite in prayer with the sea and the earth. Fill us, Lord, with the energy of this solar island!

 We then pass through the village of Milatos - a traditional mountain village where old white stone houses with red tile tops and blue-painted doors are trapped in the net of narrow streets. Between lawns of flowers, the taverns with small terraces, and family grocers await for their customers with the doors wide open. Right in the heart of the settlement, predictably, we find the square, with the little orthodox church.

 From the village, a road is leading us to the cave area and after 2,5 kilometers we notice the stone monument signaling the path to the cave. We park the car nearby and continue with 15 minutes of hiking, toward the entrance of the cave.

A Lovely Walk in the Bosom of Nature

 The path, which lies on the edge of a ravine, is paved with stones and fitted with a wooden parapet, for the safety of the excursionists. People of any age walk around, experiencing, and enjoying the beauty of Cretan nature. A kind of adventurous fellowship, born spontaneously, makes them all stop for a while to share impressions before and after visiting the cave. So exciting!

We encounter along the way haughty cliffs and spectacular reliefs, shady trees, and bushy shrubs, among which you can see the goats and the sheep of the locals, grazing in freedom. Nature explodes in life and all our senses connect with the spectacle of the wild world. Birds in mating season are overwhelming their territory in a graceful dance, while terrestrial living, energized by sunlight, remind us of universal law - love is all around...

 The gorge is like a botanical garden that hosts many species of trees and aromatic plants. This can induce to you a meditative mood, or a scientific curiosity, or even invites you to express freely your inner child - the philosopher, the scientist, or… the happy cheeky monkey?

 Finally, we reach the end of the path at about 155 meters elevation, in front of a rock wall 45 meters wide, with eight hollows. The cave's main entrance is 9 meters in width and 2 in height, letting the light flood the front rooms.

Wild Nature Hides the Wounds of a Dramatic History 

 We are tempted to explore the amazing spectacle of stalactites, stalagmites, and columns that create chambers and many small halls, at various levels, on a length of about 75 meters. As we walk further into the cavern, we have to bend over our bodies, while using our phone lights to watch our heads and steps. For about 15 meters, the very low ceiling is quite a back tester. We are not afraid to search deeper, but we would need some flashlights, to inspect the darker points of the cave. Years ago, archaeologists have found here fragments of pottery and remains of some ancient graves.

 In the first large hall of the main part of the cavern, the bright rays illuminate a little chapel that locals built in 1953 and dedicated to Apostle Thomas. Every year, on the Second Sunday of Easter, called “Thomas Sunday”, a liturgy is held here to venerate the patron Saint and also in the commemoration of the dead. 

 In front of the church, a small ossuary with a window contains some relics that we found out to belong to the Christian victims of the Hassan Pasha Turk troops in one of the most dramatic local battles of the Greek Liberation War. It is said that more than 1.000 refugee peasants - men, women, children, and elders from the Lassithi Plateau - were massacred in the cave of Milatos after 22 days siege in February 1823. This place memory hides terrible stories. If you ever get in here, don’t forget to light a candle and pray for the world’s freedom, harmony, and peace…

 We were just about to leave, with a confused feeling of excitement and sadness together. Suddenly, to our amusement, Marius, with a resonant tenor voice, spontaneously began to hum the Hallelujah chorus from the “Messiah” oratorio by G.F. Handel. Through the known and unknown galleries of the cave, a song crept into the heart of the Earth...