Agia Sofia Cave is a best kept secret (with an old church)

Crete is the largest island in Greece with a truly ancient history. The recorded history of Crete dates back to the Minoans (who lived on the island before the Greeks). The Minoan civilization was one of the oldest known advanced civilizations and lasted during the Aegean Bronze Age. Besides its ancient history, Crete is also home to many stunning geographical features and beautiful landscapes.

Tourists visit Crete every year for its stunning Mediterranean beaches, but there are many other inland attractions as well. One of the hidden treasures is the cave of Agia Sofia. Put this ancient cave on your bucket list of things to see in a weekend on the island of Crete.

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The grandeur and beauty of Agia Sofia cave

The Cave of Agia Sofia (meaning Santa Sophia) is located 47 km southwest of the city of Chania. The entrance to the cave is huge, and inside there are two rooms (the surface of which is covered with stalagmites). Enter the cave and see its 20 meter high dome, stalactites and stalagmites.

cave entrance:

  • Broad: 25 meters
  • Height: 20 meters (in some points)

On the left side of the cave entrance is a small church dedicated to Hagia Sophia (Wisdom of God).

The stalagmites are huge – some measuring an amazing five to six metres. The stalactites above were just as huge. But the cave is so big that they still have a long way to go before they meet in the middle. This cave is about the height of a five-story building.

In addition, moisture has entered the cave, and the rocks are covered with moss in many places.

It may not be the largest or most spectacular cave in the world, but it is one with a lot of humble history and is one of Crete’s hidden gems.

See also: 10 fun things to do on the beautiful island of Crete

A place of worship and history since ancient times

Since ancient times, the cave has been an important place of worship. In the 4th century BC caves a clay figure was discovered. Traces of pottery have been discovered from antiquity, including the Neolithic, Early Minoan, Late Minoan, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods.

One of the most interesting Minoan attractions in Greece today is the ash-covered ancient Minoan city of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini (similar to an older Pompeii).

  • Second hand: Since the 4th century BC

As one would expect from a cave of this age, there are various legends associated with the cave. One of the most popular stories is one related to St. George (the famous dragon slayer). It is said that St. George’s horse’s hoof left an imprint on one of the rocks in the cave.

  • St George: Legend connects St. George with the cave

According to Explore Crete, there are also stories that the cave is not fully explored. There is a suspicion that the cave extends into neighboring caves.

Here in the cave, visitors are connected to the long history of the cave, the spiritual connection with the cave and the many pigeons in the area.

Related: Crete Vs. Cyprus: Which is the Best Island in the Eastern Mediterranean?

Visit to the cave of Agia Sofia

The road itself to the cave of Agia Sofia is stunning. It connects the beach of Elafonissi and the village of Kissamos and runs along the stunning Topolia Gorge. Along this road one is limited on one side by a steep cliff and on the other side by a deep chasm. The gorge falls about 300 meters in depth.

Park on the street by the Panorama Café tavern and take the path to the cave. To get to the cave, visitors have to climb a few steps and then follow a small path. As you approach the cave, you can see how big the entrance is and the picturesque church comes into view. The church itself is small and rather ordinary (it lacks architectural and hagiographic features).


  • Church: Modest typical Greek Orthodox Church
  • Open: Every day between 8am and 8pm
  • Entry: Free
  • Holidays: December 24th and the Tuesday after Easter

According to reports, two holidays are celebrated in the cave of Agia Sofia every year. These are the Tuesday after Easter and December 24th.

If you want to see more of Crete than just the many beaches, you should also visit the island’s ancient caves.

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