Melissani Cave, Cave of the Nymphs
During the first exploration in 1951, an ancient lamp, which is now on display in the Archaeological Museum of
Argostoli, was found there. The excavations of 1962 were made by S. Marinos and produced few but important relics of a former
Minoan culture on Cephalonia. Oil lamps, plates and figures show the god Pan and several nymphs. This is, why the cave is sometimes
called Cave of the Nymphs. The lake was named after one of the nymphs, the nymph Melissanthi.
Lake Melissani has an absolute invisible specialty, which sounds pretty strange. The lake water is brackish, a mixture of sea water
and sweet water. The cave is about 500m from the sea, and the water level is a meter higher than sea level, and the brackish water
rises from a 30m deep cave system on one side of the cave and flows silently to the other end of the cave, flowing through narrow
crevices into the sea.Here the water from the Katavothres on the other side of the island reappears. This was discovered by dye tracing experiments in 1959.
The cavern, once two big chambers, caved in several thousand years ago. Today the cave has the shape of a B, with two big water filled
halls and an island in the middle. The first hall has a big oval opening to the surface, where the sunlight shines in. When the sun is
directly overhead, its rays strike the ultramarine water, lighting the cave with blue light. So the best time to visit the cave is on
a sunny day at the middle of the day. Nevertheless, a visit at the morning or in the evening has its own atmosphere. The boats seem to
hover on a lake of blue light.
Melissani Boat Trip
The complete tour is done by boat, first making a round trip around the first hall with the hole in the roof. Then the boat passes
the island on the opposite wall, where a small channel exists. This channel is too narrow to row, but there is a rope at the wall
and the gondolier pulls the boat through. The second hall is a huge cavern with an arched roof, which was also formed by a collapse,
but this cave is more to center of the island, and because of the slope of the hill, the overlying rock is still thick enough. The second
chamber has numerous big stalactites and stalagmites.
Melissani Cave History
1951 first exploration by Ioannis Petrocheilos, discovery of an ancient lamp on the central hill.
1959 dye tracing experiments by Ioannis Petrocheilos, Maurin, and Zölt revealed the connection to the Katavothres.
1962 excavations on the central hill.
1963 entrance tunnel built, cave opened to the public.
Drogarati Cave - impressive limestone formations
Drogarati's Cave, which is close to Sami, was discovered 300 years ago, when a part of it was destroyed because of a strong
earthquake, and so the entrance was created. The cave's depth is 60 meters from the ground level, the temperature is 18 C and the
humidity is 90%. Initially, the cave was developed and used by the community of Haliotata, under the supervision of the speleologist
Mrs. Petrocheilos,and since 1963 it is open for the public.
Speleologists have confirmed that the cave has an extention, that, however is not approachable. That means that the cave is probably connected with other caves in the area. It's got many stalactites and stalagmites created from the rain, which comes through the rocky level of the cave, it corroses it and deposits its elements on the edge of the stalactites. A stalactite grows one cm every 100 years. Unfortunately, many stalactites are broken, some of them because of the earthquakes, some others because of human lack of sense for the magnificent natural piece of work.
Tthe big hall of the cave (900m2), is called "Sala of Apotheosis" because of its perfect acoustics. It's therefore also used for concerts and other shows.
Kefalonia...your ideal holiday destination...