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Cave of Melissani

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The cave of Melissani is located in Karavomylos, 2 km northwest of Sami, and is one of the most famous sights of Cephalonia, both for its beauty and for its history. It was discovered by Giannis Petrochilos in 1951 and has two entrances. One is the natural vertical entrance of the cave and was created by the fall of a large part of the roof. The second is the artificial entrance with stairs that allows the visit to the cave.

The lake is located 20 meters below the ground, with a length of about 160 m and the water has a depth of 10 m to 40 meters depending on the prevailing conditions. The tour of the cave of Melissani is done by boat and starts from the uncovered part of the cave, where the light falls into the water and creates beautiful turquoise shades that enchant my visitors. Continuing in the covered part of the cave, visitors can see the 20,000-year-old stalactites with strange shapes that adorn most of it.

The Cave of Melissani is associated with two myths. A legend wants Melissanthi to commit suicide in the lake out of grief because Pan did not respond to her love. Another legend wants the shepherdess Melissanthi, who lost a sheep and as she was trying to find it, she stumbled and fell into the lake. In the center of the lake is an island, where archaeologist S. Marinatos discovered findings that certify the worship of the cave to the god Pan and the Nymphs. That is why you call it the Cave of the Nymphs. These finds are a clay figurine of the god Pan, a clay disk depicting nymphs dancing, a clay plate with a procession of nymphs, and a small tile with a relief female figure. The findings are today in the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli.

In this lagoon cave, we meet another rare phenomenon. The water that penetrates the limestone rocks, erodes them and creates pits through a process called karstification. In 1963 it was found that the lagoon cave communicates with the entire karst network of the island and was even confirmed by control with colored water that flowed from the sinkholes in Argostoli, at the other end of the island.

The cave is open to visitors, May to October from 08.30 in the morning until 19.40 in the afternoon every day.


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