Lera Cave is located on the big, steep Vardia mountain at the eastern part of the natural port of Stavros, 15 km north east of Chania. In ancient times, the cave was used for ceremonies of worship based upon the findings. It takes its name after the Chief of Arms Stefanos Leras that operated in the area from 1821 to 1833. Stavros became known all over the world in 1964, when the famous movie “Zorba the Greek” was shot here in 1963 and 1964. The movie was based on the novel “Alexis Zorbas” by the famous Cretan writer Nikos Kazantzakis. It was directed by M.Kakogiannis, and the main actors where Alan Bates and Anthony Quinn.They used the cave as a mine setting according to the script and it was then that the first archeological excavations took place in 1951-1961. Following the success of the movie, an official excavation in the cave begun in 1966.
After the entry’s wide antechamber, there is a narrow passage through high natural columns. The steps that are carved in the stone, lead you to the magnificent third chamber, 3 m higher, which used to be an ancient shrine, where the worshipers used to devote artifacts to the nymph of the cave. The dimensions of the chamber are 14m x 18m x 9m. The setting is magical thanks to the reflections of the crystal water of the sea basin and the stalagmites. Among the impressive columns and stalagmites there is a stalagmite that stands out, with the shape of an angel’s wing.