At an altitude of 220 meters above ground and right next to Melidoni and Panormo villages in Rethymno, one of the most significant landscapes in Crete awaits for you to discover. Gerontospilios (meaning the Old Cave) Melidoni Cave definitely ranks among the finest attractions in the wider area. Dating back to the Neolithic era, this cave reflects not only the ancient history of Crete, but also the recent heroic standing of the island. It is true that there are a lot of prehistoric findings on display, among which the double copper axe revealed during the excavations. As a result, there is no doubt that the cave has been used as a shelter ever since antiquity. But why is it so important for the locals?
First of all, its name is the same as the name of Melidoni village and has been given after one of the most important heroes at the Greek War of Independence on the island, Antonios Melidonis. In 1824, the Turks tried to bend the will of the locals and attempted to spend the winter there. Instead of allowing the enemy to do as they pleased, the people in Melidoni found shelter in Gerontospilios and remained there, putting a fight for three whole months. Realizing that the task was much more demanding than what they were hoping for, the Turks decided to end the siege by lighting fire in the entrance of the cave. This has led to the tragic death of the people inside the cave, forging the will of the others that looked up to the martyrs. Nowadays, the people who gave their life for Greek Independence are still commemorated and there is a sarcophagus with their remains in the cave.
Apart from the recent history of the island, Melidoni Cave had been dedicated to Hermes and the bronze giant Talos. As you can see, the cave represents a glorious past, as well as the continuance of glory and great spirit. And of course, all that topped with nature’s marvels, depicted through stalactites and stalagmites of unique beauty.