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Category: Church
Prefecture: Rethymno
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Melidoni 2818 hits

The village of Melidoni is found approximately 27km east of Rethymno in the Municipality of Geropotamos. The village now has developed considerably although there are still some old Venetian buildings to be seen in the back streets if you take a walk through. During the summer the village is extremely lively, with dancing and public events. On Clean Monday, the last day before Lent, there is an ancient ceremony only held in a very few places on Crete, marking the day with much festivity including fancy dress. The village has its own bakery, petrol station and small grocery shops as well as tavernas and kafanea together with the inevitable kiosk as found all over Greece.

The village developed into one of the largest in the Milopotamos district during 17th century and was one of those seized by the Turks after their advance from Rethymnon to Heraklion in 1646. Both before and after the Revolution of 1821 almost all foreign travelers visiting Crete came to Melidoni due partly to its fantastic cave.

However the cave became more infamous in 1824 when, during the Revolution some 250 unarmed villagers, including women and children were suffocated when the entrance was sealed and fires lit by the Turks thrown in to the cave following a three month siege. Not until 1834 when the English explorer Robert Pashley visited Melidoni did Manolis Kirmizakis, the only survivor of the events, inspect the cave discovering the bones of the martyrs.Today there is a large sarcophagus within the cave containing the bones of those killed and the monument is now considered extremely important in defining the independent Cretan character. The beaches of Bali and Panormo are easily accessible being approximately 9km distant.

Melidoni Cave
Melidoni Cave 2671 hits

Toget to the village of Melidoni, drive along the old road from Rethymno to Heraklion, turning left at the small town of Perama.

Perama is the regional centre, and it’s worth spending a couple of hours here to soak up the atmosphere of a small Cretan town that has been left untouched by tourism. When you get to Melidoni, you’ll find the cave, another 2km away, signposted.

There is no infrastructure at the cave – entrance is free. The cave comprises several chambers with impressive stalactites – a torch is recommended to enjoy the cave fully.

There are stairs and a path leading to the cave. Melidoni cave is famous across Crete due to its history: in 1824 all 300 inhabitants of Melidoni hid there, trying to flee the wrath of the Turkish army.

However, the Turkish army soon found them, and all 300 died from asphyxiation when the army lit a big fire at the cave’s entrance.