The Labyrinth of Crete is situated around 3 km northeast from the archaeological site of Gortys in central Crete. It is an underground quarry in marly limestone, excavated probably during the Roman Period. It was first described and mapped in the 18th and 19th centuries. More detailed descriptions have been published recently.
The cave comprises 2.5 km of corridors, leading to or connecting small and larger rooms covering almost an area of one hectare. The Labyrinth of Gortys is connected to Greek Mythology and more especially to Theseus and the Minotaur, at least from the 9th century A.D. According to many travellers’ reports and 16th century maps, the Labyrinth of Gortys was one of the first and most significant Cretan attractions, at least from the beginning of the 15th century. Visits were organized, with Greek guides leading the visitors inside to the cave. These guided tours were carried on until at least the Second World War.
From the beginning of the 15th century, many travelers to Crete visited the Labyrinth, and stressed the existence of the numerous inscriptions they were carved on the cave’s walls. The first was that of Christophoro Buondelmonti who visited the Labyrinth on 1415. The inscriptions made by the visitors of the famous cave are found mostly on the walls of the rooms -especially the more distant ones- but also on the walls of the corridors and the rubble-stone interior walls.
In 1999 the Department of Crete of the Hellenic Speleological Society started a project for the inventory of the inscriptions found in the so-called Labyrinth of Gortys. More than 2,000 inscriptions have been inventoried so far.
I was asked recently by someone to post some of my old pictures of Crete. Well this meant digging them out if I could, and I have lost most of them over the years. Then it meant scanning them and trying to present them at their best and the truth is that there are not many of them that would stand up to all of this.
Anyway, I have a few that I can post on here from time to time, well not too many times. They were taken in the late sixties, early seventies.
The first one here is one of Agia Galini.
No huge tour boats or concrete walls. See how undeveloped it is on the hill and I do love the old bus in the background.
The next one is of Hora Sfakion.
Again this shows how very undeveloped was Hora Sfakion in those days. In fact the town seems so very small compared to what we see now. No huge promenade or lines of tavernas. It was nice then, I have to say.
The next picture is the one of the Lassiti Plateau.
The first time that I saw Lassiti Plateau it was just like this. Windmills (perhaps I should say windpumps) everywhere. All the land was farmed and it was a truly splendid place. Tourists up here were very rare, but no-one was bothered. They loved their life and the profits they made from their produce. Today the Greek Agricultural Water Company supplies all the water and the pretty windmills are gone except for the odd taverna here or there. Progress, perhaps; but who knows? There are fewer people there now and much less is farmed. You tell me?
For all those of you who have read the article – The Holocaust of Arkadi – either in the Crete Courier or here on this website in the Crete Courier section – Crete Courier 003 – or are just interested in the monastery of Arkadi, here are some pictures that I took a couple of weeks ago at Arkadi Monastery.
This is the famous chuch of Arkadi Monastery taken from the gateway into the monastery. Note the Venetian architecture.
This is of course the magazine where the gunpowder was stored. The gunpowder was fired as the monastery fell to the Turks. Now they have this strange painted mural at the end of the magazine as you can see. This is quite new and went up just a few years ago. It is there to depict in picture form what happened during the holocaust.
This is the front gate of the monastery looking outwards. It was this gate that finally succumbed to the big cannon that the turks brought up from Rethymno.