About 15 kilometers from Hersonissos, in the Kastellos Mountain, is the historical cave of Milatos, a site known best for the tragic events that took place there during the Turkish occupation.
On the third of February, 1823, over 2,000 villagers (some sources say there were as many as 3,500 villagers), only
150 of which were armed, fled to the cave to hide from Hassan Pasha's troups, who were approaching from Lassithi on a bloody war path, ruthelessly destroying villages and slaughtering their inhabitants. Upon discovering where the villagers were hiding, Pasha sent 5,000 troops to surrount the cave. The 150 armed men, as well as Cretan rebel soldiers from surrounding villages, valiantly fought to defend the villagers and successfully held back Pasha's troops for nearly two weeks. However, inside the cave, the lack of food and water was taking its toll, and many people died. On the fifteenth of February, starvation forced the villagers to attempt a daring escape. Unarmed and weak, they stood no chance against Pasha's troops, and they were brutally massacred. Many were slaughtered or trampled to death as they attempted to flee from the cave. Those who were captured were later beheaded or burned to death. According to some sources, some of the captured women and children were sold into slavery.
From the road leading up to the cave you can see the village of Milatos.
A sign marks the beginning of the path one must follow, by foot, to reach the cave.
The view is breathtaking going up the steps toward the cave, which sits on the side of a gorge.
The entrance- it is dark inside, so make sure you bring a flashlight. The ceiling of the cave is low in the front chamber, and you will need to bend over to avoid hitting your head.
To the right of the entrance, is a larger chamber with a higher ceiling. The church of St. Thomas was built inside this section in 1935 to commemorate those that died during the massacre.