Greece
By:
Mabel Fatokun

Geology? Greece Is Likely Your Vacation Spot With These 10 Fascinating Cave Spots

Greece

  • 10,413,982
  • 131,957 km2 (50,949 sq mi)
Greece

With thousands of cave systems—more than 8,500, according to some estimates—found along its untamed, winding coastline, Greece is a well-liked vacation spot for those interested in geology, speleology, and the fascinating sport of “spelunking,” or caving. Many of these formations are connected to Greek mythology or geological stories. Some have made significant archaeological finds that provide light on Aegean prehistory.

These underground wonders are a captivating blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue, with a plethora of bizarre and fantastic rock formations, such as stalactites (derived from the ancient Greek “to drip”) and stalagmites (“dropping, trickling”), which have accumulated over countless millennia. Thankfully, there are a lot of open caverns in Greece that offer amenities and knowledgeable guides for immersive excursions. There are numerous possibilities depending on where in the country you live. Several of these have been converted into important places of worship for Christians. But a lot of people believe that visiting a Greek cave is a deeply magical experience, regardless of their religious or spiritual views.

For your next travel, we’ve put together a list of ten of the most stunning caverns in the country, ordered geographically from north to south. We’ve tried to provide a variety of settings, however by no means exhaustive, to satisfy all interests and inclinations, from famous cave that was once home to one of Europe’s first archaic people, to cathedral-sized caverns, and magical sea caves.

The Aggitis Cave

Also called “Maaras Cave,” it is situated close to Prosotsani in Drama, northeastern Greece. Marking the emergence of the Aggitis River from the depths of the mountain, it is the unique example of a river cave and the longest and most expansive cave in Greece.

Serres’s Alistrati Cave

"Serres's Alistrati cave"

Alistrati Cave is a must-see place because of its amazing range of geological features. It is considered one of Europe’s most gorgeous caverns. It is one of the most visited tourist sites in the region and is located 50 km south of the bustling city of Serres in Central Macedonia and 6 km from the town of Alistrati. folklore has it that its depths are where geological wonder meets folklore, as Hades, the god of the dead, utilised it as a portal to transport Persephone to the Underworld. Discovered and officially documented in the 1970s, the cave now presents a breathtaking exhibition of Karst formations resulting from the dissolution of soluble carbonate rocks. Not to mention its immense size, Alistrati Cave is well known. It contains chambers and is 3 km long.

Cave Perama, Ioannina

The largest cave in Greece, Perama Cave, is located 5 miles from the picturesque lakeside city of Ioannina in Epirus. It covers an incredible 46 square km. Its passages wind inside the bowls of Goritsa Hill for approximately 1.7 km. The cave has a geological connection to the neighbouring Lake Pamvotida and was formed about 1.5 million years ago. It’s a section of an underground riverbed that was formed when the plain was totally submerged by the lake and Goritsa Hill was an island. The inhabitants of the nearby Perama hamlet sought refuge from aircraft bombardment during World War II, marking the first recorded instance of its existence in the modern era. Locals, however, are usually believed to have been aware of it since approximately 1900.

Petralona Cave, Greece

"The photo showing petralona Cave in Greece"

Petralona Cave is 300 metres above sea level and is located on the western slopes of Mount Katsika, close to Nea Moudania in the Central Macedonian district of Halkidiki. The amazing fossilised skull of the so-called “Archanthropus of Petralona,” a Homo erectus-like hominin (archaic human) thought to be the earliest European at the time of its discovery in 1960, is housed in this well-known cave together with an impressive array of stalactite and stalagmite formations. Petralona Cave was found by chance in 1959 by local shepherd Filippos Hatzaridis. The following year, Greek anthropologist Aris Poulianos began methodical excavations, which increased the cave’s significance. Numerous tools and artefacts from the Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age), along with hundreds of fossilised animal bones from more than 50 species, were discovered during these digs.

Melissani Cave

It is located near Karavomilos on Kefalonia’s island, is a stunning lake cave with turquoise waters. Over 3.5km long, it was discovered in 1951 by speleologist Giannis Petrochilos. The cave’s underground lake, revealing intricate stalactites and crystal-clear blue-green hues, is a popular tourist attraction.

Attica’s Koutouki Cave in Paiania

Located 35 km east of central Athens, nestled within the subterranean network of Mount Ymittos, Paiania Cave is a testament to the extraordinary solubility of limestone in rainwater, which has shaped bizarre rock forms over endless millennia. The stalactites and stalagmites in the cave have created a magnificent tapestry due to this natural process.

When a hapless goat fell through the ceiling in 1926, the location was inadvertently discovered. A few decades later, in 1954, Yannis and Anna Petrochilos of the Hellenic Speleological Society carried out methodical investigation on it. The Koutouki Cave sprang to fame as a popular tourist site due to its enormous rock formations, striking red colours caused by iron oxide, and enormous size (38.5 metres in height and over 350 metres in length).

The Cave of the Lakes

This unusual cave, which spans three levels and features a cascade of thirteen stagnant lakes, is situated in Kastria, Achaia. Explore 500 metres of winding passageways encircled by striking stalagmite and stalactite formations. Through a constructed tube, the 1,980 m long cave is explored, providing views into its rich history. The cave shows stone basins and dams in the summer and changes into an underground river with natural waterfalls in the winter.

Kapsia Cave

Greece

Located beneath the Ski Center of Mainalo in Arcadia, is a 380m-long cave discovered in 1887 by French archaeologist Gustave Fouzer. Explored in 1892, it showcases vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and natural formations. The cave, spanning 6,500 square meters, contains artifacts from the Neolithic period, evidence of ancient floods, human remains, and clay lamps dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries AD. Visitors can explore the labyrinth of chambers, passages, and stalactites and stalagmites, including the “Wonder Room.”

Diros Caverns, Mani

Situated in the southern Peloponnese, halfway down the Mani Peninsula’s west coast, are the world-famous Diros Caves.

The magnificent Vlychada Cave, the largest of the three caves in the complex (the others are Alepotrypa and Katafygi), is tucked away in the scenic harbour of Diros. Its elongated white stalactites and stalagmites, striking cascades, and sparkling crystals have enthralled both tourists and locals.

The first excavation of Vlychada Cave, which was located in 1949 by Giannis and Anna Petrocheilou, the founders of the Hellenic Speleological Society, revealed only a small portion of its enormous expanse. Its mysteries have been revealed over the years, and around 15 kilometres of passages have been surveyed and investigated. The attraction of the cave even reaches below the surface, where an underground river eventually meanders.

Dictaean Cave

It is a well-known archaeological site in Greek mythology and is situated on the island of Crete. Zeus, the monarch of the Olympian gods, is said to have been born there. According to legend, Titaness Rhea fled to this location in order to shield her kid from the man’s maw. The Psychro cave is home to bats and wild rock doves, and it’s located close to the Psychro hamlet.

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