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 island's hidden treasures. 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 its historical and religious significance, witnessing dramatic events of 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. We rest in silence for a few minutes, 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 their customers with wide open doors. Right in the heart of the settlement, as expected, we come across the square with the small Orthodox church.

 From the village, a road leads 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 the cave mouth.

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 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 overwhelm their territory in a graceful dance, while terrestrial living, energized by sunlight, reminds us of universal law - love is all around...

 Nature explodes with life and all our senses connect to the spectacle of the wild world... As is natural, hiking induces us, sometimes a meditative state of mind, sometimes a scientific curiosity, and even invites us to give free rein to our true spirit - the enchanted adult, the philosopher, the scientist, or even... the funny kid!

 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 wide and 2 high, letting the light flood the front rooms.

 The Secret Place That Hides The History Wounds 

 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 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 found fragments of pottery and remains of ancient graves here.

 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 commemorate the dead ones. 

Near the shrine is an ossuary with relics, which we learned belong to the victims of one of the most dramatic local battles of the War of Liberation against the Ottoman Empire. The memory of this place hides a page of bloody history: in February 1823, more than 1,000 refugee villagers from the area, mostly women, children, and the elderly, were massacred by Hashan Pasha's Ottoman troops after a 22-day siege. Once here, don't forget to light a candle for their souls and pray for freedom, harmony, and world peace!

 We were getting ready to leave, feeling a mix of joy and sadness, when suddenly Marius began to hum the chorus "Hallelujah" from Handel's "Messiah" with a resonant tenor voice. The song of glory echoed through the known and unknown galleries of the cave, creeping into the heart of the Earth...