All Rights Reserved

All articles and photos published in CRETAZINE is available to visitors strictly for personal use. It is not permissible to reproduce or retransmit in any manner or to any extent whatsoever any part of this web site, with or without editing, without the written permission of the publisher.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

  • A psychadelic installation, 50 meters undergroundA psychadelic installation, 50 meters underground© Cretazine

Sfentoni Cave

Crete is home of half of the country’s caves, about 5.200, but only three are officially open to the public. Sfentoni Cave is the largest of all and is located right next to the famous village of Zoniana.

Additional Info

  • Telephone: +30 28340 61869, 61734, 61209
  • Working Hours:

    Winter season:

    Saturday & Sunday: 10:30 – 14:20

    Summer season:

    Weekdays 10:00 – 17:00

    *Time schedule is subject to change.

  • Visit Duration: 30'
  • Guide Assistance: Tours are available in Greek and English
  • Parking: Yes

Cretazine Tips

  • Organized tours cover about two-thirds of the cave and five of its eleven chambers.
  • The total size of the cave is 3.500 m2 and its length is 270 m.
  • Before the cave entrance there is a cafeteria with a panoramic view to the whole region. This is also where you buy your tickets.
  • Gourgouthakas, the deepest cave in Greece, and one of the deepest of the world, is located in Chania. It goes 1.208 meters underground. 
  • Crete also features the cave with the largest chamber in Greece. It is located in the prefecture of Lassithi and the chamber expands for 11.000 m2, about the size of two and a half football fields. However, it is not accessible to the public.
  • The other two famous caves of Crete you can visit are Melidoni (just half an hour away from Sfentoni) and Diktaion Antron in Lassithi Plateau.
Published in  Presentations



Stalactites, stalagmites, glitter and underground harmony

It is one of the three caves of Crete that are open to the public and the largest of them. Stalactites and Stalagmites in different color spectrums (white, dark red, grey, depending on the rock that forms them) sometimes unite and create naturally artistic pillars and sometimes they wait patiently for thousands, even millions of years to pass until they meet each other. Rocky sculptures shine magically under the light of the spotlights and according to science this is because they contain calcium carbonate crystals. According to science fiction though, this happens because fairies sprinkle them with glitter.

We love the names of the cave chambers given by Anna Petrocheilou, a famous Greek speleologist who mapped the cave in 1966. We walk into the “sanctuary of the fairy”, the “chamber of harmonies”, the “chapel” where stalactites form a pipe organ, the “Palace”, the “Metropolis”, the “Panorama” and finally the “chamber of the lost child”. In this last chamber the skeleton of a...900 year old child was found.

There is no white light in the cave, because with humidity reaching 100% the conditions for photosynthesis and vegetation growth would be ideal. And then, how would the water drops continue their centuries-old task, to unite stalagmites with stalactites?

Before the cave became a tourist attraction, the village children played in the cave and left rocks and dry leaves behind them to mark their route so that they find the exit again. These are the childhood memories of our tour guide. He also showed us the black spots on the cave ceiling where bats hang out. About four hundred bats live in the cave as well as other species that only live in caves and absolute darkness. Most of the cave species moved to other secret chambers of the cave escaping the tourist invasion. Among them the endemic Graeconiscus guanophilus, an isopod that only resides in the “hole of Sfentoni”. 

Hole of Sfentoni?

That’s right. This is how the cave was known in the old times, because its opening was only one square meter wide. According to tradition, Sfentonis was a rebel and this cave was his refuge. Nobody can tell if he was actually a real person. What is certain, however, is that Sfentonis was not the only one who lived here. Clay pots and stone-made tools from the Neolithic period and other findings testifying human (and animal) presence in the cave throughout history indicate that it was never really a secret place. Later, the people of Zoniana with their inventive minds decided that the cave was the perfect place to store their famous cheese while it matured, known as the “cheese of the hole”.

These are just a few of the stories narrated during the organized tour, while the lighting constantly changes around you creating a psychedelic (and quite cool) atmosphere! The cave features natural air-conditioning and the temperature is always around 16-17 degrees – a blessing during the hot summer months. There is no white light in the cave, because with humidity reaching 100% the conditions for photosynthesis and vegetation growth would be ideal. And then, how would the water drops continue their centuries-old task, to unite stalagmites with stalactites? How would orthoptera, pseudoscorpions, millipedes, snails and other freaky creatures of the “underworld” survive? Surely they are watching you from the secret corners of this underground labyrinth, while you just take a glimpse of their dark kingdom…