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Cave of Panagia Arkoudiotissa in Crete

Panagia Arkoudiotissa in the Akrotiri Peninsula is a very strange church and cave. At least if you have a lot of imagination, and like to hike.

The path to Panagia Arkoudiotissa begins at a memorial to the left of the Gouvernetto Monastery. It takes about 15-20 minutes to walk down to the church and the cave. The church itself is in ruins, but there is a small chapel, which is as small as a donkey stable.


The ruins of the Panagia Arkoudiotissa Church in the Akrotiri peninsula in Crete.

The ruins of the Panagia Arkoudiotissa Church in the Akrotiri peninsula.



The interesting thing about Panagia Arkoudiotissa is not the chapel itself, it is the cave behind the chapel that is fascinating. When your eyes adjust to the darkness - and your ears to the silence - you will see several stalagmites in front of you. One of them is particularly strange, it is said to look like a bear that is drinking water.


The drinking bear in Panagia Arkoudiotissa in the Akrotiri Peninsula in Crete.

The drinking bear in Panagia Arkoudiotissa.

You might be able to see a bear-like thing with help of a vivid imagination, but I can not agree with that it looks like the bear is drinking water. The cave has been named after this particular stalagmite, Arkouda means bear in Greek. It is believed that the cave has been used as a cult site where, among other things, bear dances were performed to worship the Greek goddess Artemis.


Cave of Panagia Arkoudiotissa. Crete. Akrotiri.

Cave of Panagia Arkoudiotissa.


The drinking bear is visible in the middle of the picture. But at this angle it looks more like a cave monster.

When you are finished watching the ever-drinking bear, you can choose to return to the Gouvernetto Monastery, or continue the hike to the mythical monastery of Katholiko. I think you should choose the latter.


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