Agios Thomas (Saint Thomas) is one of the most impressive mountain villages of Crete, mainly due to the easily carvable rocks in the region. The area boasts incredible monuments of carved architecture, transporting us to ancient times with Minoan presses, Roman tombs, and cavernous temples. These features, combined with the breathtaking cliffs, natural caves, Byzantine churches, and lush green surroundings, create a magical landscape.
In the village of Agios Thomas, south of the church with the same name, a short path begins at the statue of local hero Demetrius Varouchas. After a 2-minute walk, we arrive at one of the most impressive archaeological sites of Crete, located at Gria Mandra.
At Gria Madra, numerous towering boulders are scattered throughout the area, with a trail weaving between them. Many of these rocks contain carved Roman tombs that remain in excellent condition, inspiring awe in all visitors. Around the Agios Thomas area, there are about 30 tombs.
En route to the abandoned settlement of Ardachthia, we encounter a rock covered in ivy and the carved cavernous chapel of Kera Spiliotissa. Inside a recess, about 15 meters after the church, archaeologists discovered a Greco-Roman inscription in 1910 that can still be seen today.
The inscription clearly states in Greek, “Dedicated to the goddesses Larkia Artemis, Demeter and Kori,” who were all deities of Hades. Residents of Agios Thomas claim that inside the church, there was once a chasm known as the Gate of Hades, which has since been covered with cement.
All of these findings suggest that Agios Thomas was a site for worshiping chthonic deities, or the deities of Hades. Even today, when someone from Agios Thomas passes away, their clothes are dropped into an underground river to transport them to the other world.
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