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Cave of Agia Paraskevi

Caves

Heraklion

Northwest of the village of Skoteino is the cave of Agia Paraskevi.

Inside the entrance is a large chamber, the “Great Temple” (130 m long, 33 m wide and 30 m high), containing impressive groups of stalagmites and stalactites. The next chamber, known as the “Hall of the Altar”, is smaller (24×8.5×25 m) and there is evidence that it was used for sacrifices. A passage from the left-hand corner of the first chamber leads down into the “Inner Sanctum”, a chamber measuring15x8x3 m.

From here another corridor leads back up into the first chamber by another entrance. A 12-metre corridor between the Hall of the Altar and the Inner Sanctum leads to the dome-like “Hall of Worship” (12x12x14) with its spectacular natural décor. A 4-metre upwards passage leads to the “Hall of Prayer”, while at the end there is a small, narrow cavity (the locals call it the “Ekklisaki” or “little church”).

The cave is 170 m long in section, with a total area of about 2,500 square metres and a tourist path of 450 m. It has not been systematically excavated, but research has shown that it was used as a place of worship during the Minoan period. Many of the stalagmites bear traces of carving and they may have been objects of worship.


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