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Y. Skoulas
RETHYMNO

Idaion Antro

At an altitude of 1.538m, not far from Anogeia in the area of Rethymnon, hides one of the most important caves of Crete, the mythology hub of the NE slopes of the mountain chain of Psiloritis. This is the place where Zeus grew up. His mother, Rhea, hid the future King of all Gods and Goddesses in this cave to protect him from the devouring frenzy of his father who literally ate all his siblings. Nymphs Adrasteia and Ida fed the young God with wild honey and the milk of the goat Amaltheia, while the legendary Corybantes (or Curetes) danced and drummed around the cave to produce destruction and cover the baby’s crying.

The sacredness and importance of the cave was confirmed by the excavations in the area, held in two different centuries: the first, conducted by F. Halbherr in 1885, and the second, started by the architect Υiannis Sakellarakis in 1982. The finds are kept and conserved at the Archaeological Museum of Herakleion, and they include offerings, vases, utensils, arms, coins, jewellery, and the well-known bronze shields of the 7th and 8th centuries, used in rituals honouring Zeus.

The cave’s layout resembles an ancient temple. Its internal part is divided in three chambers and the sanctuary. Three stately stalactites dominate the entrance. The locals also refer to the cave as the “cave of the shepherd girl”, thus reproducing the way it was stated in the rhymed romance “Erotokritos” by the poet Vincenzos Kornaros in early 17th century.

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