Crete Stories and Tips

Gorges, rocks and caves - south of Kissamos

The cave and Topolia Gorge  Photo, Crete, Greece

We take the inland road back to Kissamos from Elafonissi. The sun is low and the mountainous routes that cut through the central hill massifs of the island are spectacular.

We stop at one of the roadside stalls to buy a bottle of wine (which, at 5 Euro, proves mediocre later on) and a jar of honey (which, at similar price, proves to be pure, fragrant, toffee-and-wild-herbs-blossom delight).

This route is as attractive, and more unusual than the coastal road we took from Falasarna. One of the defining features of landscape in Crete is the number of gorges that run to the sea through the mountains of the island, the most famous of all being the Samaria. There are several gorges in the western end of Crete, including Sirkari and Roka, but the one we unexpectedly come across on the way back from Elafonissi to Kissamos is the mile-long Topolia gorge. Although the fairly modest by Cretan standars size makes it only a local attraction, the gorge is pretty impressive, with steep, sheer sides of raggedy rock the colour of honey, almost glowing gold in the setting sun, falling into the spiky greenery of the bushes in the valley long way below.

Before the steepest and deepest part of the gorge, where the road passes through a single-carriageway tunnel regulated by traffic lights there is a cave, called, as many Greek caves, Agia Sofia Cave or the Cave of the God's Wisdom. Why is the notion of wisdom (sofia) associated with underground spaces – maybe this Christian custom harks back to the ancient chtonic cults and oracles, from Delphi to several Nekromantions. This cave has a small chapel and is of geological interest for its stalagmites and stalactites.

We drive on through the tunnel and as the road gets nearer to Kissamos, we pass a a wedding party – seems like a whole village, if not several, were invited – in front of the church in Potamida village. Behind the church, and with stopping made impossible by the cars of the wedding party, raise komolithi – another phenomenon of geological nature, strange, tall rock formations akin to North-American hoodoos, topped with tufts of grass and bushes.

After that it's less than five minutes to Kissamos and our hotel: a long day with a lot of driving, but an attractive one and with a good mix of historical sites and stunning scenery.

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