Chania Arkoudospilio Cave

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Location: Akrotiri

Located in the Akrotiri Cape of Chania, Grotta Arkoudospilio is a unique cove that splits the nearby Avlaki Gorge. Arkoudospilio means Cave of the Bear, owing its name to a large stalagmite on the inside that looks like a crouching bear from the inside, arkouda being bear and spilia being cave in Greek. To get there you will first need to pass through the Gouverneto Monastery, which is of significant importance to the cave.

In ancient times, Grotta Arkoudospilio used to be a sanctuary dedicated to the Greek gods, Apollo and Artemis, with inscriptions discernible to this day. A cave with a bear-like stalagmite inside was sure to be of importance for the goddess of hunting.

In more recent history, monks from the Gouverneto Monastery were said to be living in the old ruins surrounding the cave until recently. Those are also part of a myth about the cave’s existence often told by the locals. According to it, a bear lived in the cave, and drank the water dropping from the stalactites. The monks, desperate for help, prayed to the Virgin Mary to stop the bear so they could end their insufferable thirst. She answered their prayers by turning the bear into stone, hence the bear-shaped rock we can see in the cave today.

Inside the cave, you will also see the chapel of the Presentation of Christ at the Temple. On 2 February, a big festival is held in honor of the chapel, with a great number of locals opting to stay in the cave the previous night, with food, drinks and small campfires, which have turned the roof of the cave black.

The cave is 2 km away from the Gouverneto Monastery. By following the trail of the gorge in its entirety, you will end up at the deserted Katholiko Monastery and the nearby Katholiko Bay.



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