On the western edge of the Topolia gorge and at its most tight point, a mere 2 km from the village of Topolia, over a narrow stone-built road tunnel that leads towards the Elafonisi area, lies the Agia Sofia Cave. Its namesake is the chapel, 6 by 3 m. in size that is literally located inside the cave’s entrance sharing its left side wall. The cave is accessed via an uphill (with some steps, at places) path that starts at road level and leads, 285 m. above sea level, onto an imposing 25 by 10 m. arched gate.

The cave’s inside comprises a large 70 by 70 m. single dome, 10 by 20 m. in height, which is naturally divided in smaller parts by means of some impressive stalagmites. Their size is truly stunning, with some rising as high as 5 to 6 m., while what is even more impressive is the fact that they have yet to meet their equally sized stalactite counterparts by 4 to 5 m. Given that, it is not hard to grasp the immense size of this cave. The occasional visitor may marvel up close at the inner formations, the diversity in shape of the stalactites and stalagmites, the algae completely covering parts of the walls giving the premise a dark green tint, all elements of whimsical imagery.

Additionally, the cave is both of archaeological, historical and biological interest. Findings include a 4th century B.C. clay effigy, shells from Neolithic, Classical and Roman eras as well as Neolithic, Minoan and Graeco-Roman era pottery. Also, this is the only place to host the Pholcus Creticus spider species, thus dubbed steno-endemic, namely species that dwell exclusively in one specific place.

Furthermore, over the years, the cave has been linked to a variety of legends and myths, like the one with St George’s shoehorn, which tells of his horse’s hoof being imprinted on a rock; and, there truly is a trace that resembles this. Another legend tells a story of Cretan soldiers returning to Crete after the Fall of Constantinople – brought on by the Turks. They reclaimed the Sophia Wisdom of God icon from the majestic temple of Justinian to bring it back home safe, but it eventually was found wedged against a rock inside the cave, right where the chapel is built today.

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