Sfendoni cave or Zoniana cave

Sfendoni cave or Zoniana cave

Cave Zoniana, Sfendoni or Sfendoni's Hole, is located 1km north of Zoniana village in Mylopotamos, about 43km west of Heraklion and 52km southeast of Rethymno. It is shaped on the southern slopes of the hill Halepa at an altitude of 630m.

The cave is accessible and is the most beautiful cave in Crete and one of the most beautiful in Greece, with rich stalactite and stalagmite decoration. It belongs to the Natural Park of Psiloritis, which is protected by UNESCO.

The route in the cave is signed by metal corridors, fitted with ropes, for greater security. These are accessible even by persons with disabilities.

The cave has an area of 3000 sq. m, and is one of the most beautiful in Greece. Visitors however are allowed only to visit two-thirds of it, walking along a corridor of about 270 meters. The maximum length of the cave is 145m.

There are huge columns that create labyrinthine compartments inside the cave. Many stalactites and stalagmites of different colors and shapes decorate the 14 rooms of the cave. In several places, there are water basins. Also you can see the so-called "cave pearls”, a type of speleothem, a concretion of calcium salts which forms in limestone caves and resemble pearls. Finally, the glow coming from the tiny crystals of calcium carbonate is particularly impressive.

In the cave live four species of bat and dozens of species of invertebrates (snails, spiders, false-scorpions, woodlices, millipedes, spring tails, cave crickets etc.). Some of those are colorless and blind, while at least two species are cave’s endemics.

The cave also has some archaeological importance. Excavations have shown that it was used occasionally by shepherds for thousands of years. Pottery dating has indicated that there was continuous, but not intense use of the cave, from Neolithic times till today.

The cave of Zoniana is called by locals as the "Sfendonis’ Hole”. The name comes from a rebel from Sfakia, called Sfendonis, who was hiding in the cave.One day, while cooking meat near the entrance of the cave, a boy approached him to ask him some food. Sfendonis got furious because his hideout was revealed and kicked the boy with his boot so hard that he killed him.