Melidoni cave or Geros Spilios, as it is also called, is located in a distance of 3km away from Melidoni Milopotamou , in the prefecture of Rethymno . The cave is located in an altitude of 220m. It is a place of scientific, historical and archaeological interest and it has been one of the four sacred Cretan caves .
During the Roman period, Taleos Hermes was worshipped in Melidoni cave. This was a regional cult which connected Talos, the legendary giant made of bronze, with god Hermes. Giant Talos had been worshipped in the cave since even older times, during the Neolithic and Minoan era. In Greek mythology, Talos was the protector of Crete, circling the island’s shores three times daily while guarding it.
The cave is first mentioned in sources from the 15th century, which mention that an inscription of the 1st or 2nd century was discovered on the left side of the entrance. The inscription was a votive offering of a Rhodian who had visited the cave to worship Hermes. Another writer, Sieber, wrote in 1817 that there was also another inscription in the cave. In 1923 the site was excavated by an Italian expedition and the inscription was not found.
Inside the cave , the entrance leads to the central room, which branches into smaller rooms to the east and north. The rooms are decorated with beautiful rock formations. The central room is called “Room of the Heroes" because of a significant historical incident that took place in it.
During the period of the Ottoman occupation , in October 1823, 370 women and children and 30 rebels took shelter in the cave as they were attacked by the Ottomans under Hussein pasha. The Ottomans besieged the cave and asked the rebels to surrender but they refused and started fighting back. The siege lasted three months. In January 1824 the Ottomans threw inflammable materials from the roof hole and then lit a fire. All the besieged were asphyxiated to death.
Today, the bones of the victims are kept in a stone ossuary in the “Room of the Heroes” . A small chapel is built in the entrance of the cave where the victims are commemorated every year.