Caves in Greece
When most people think of Greece and the Greek Islands, images of blue skies, sandy beaches, whitewashed buildings and deep blue seas are the pictures that immediately spring to mind.
However, Greece is just as beautiful and interesting underground, as it is above. In Greece and the Greek Islands, there is a huge selection of interesting caves that one can visit and explore. There are over 6000 known caves in Greece, and many of these have now been open to the public, where visitors can enjoy their spectacular beauty.
At least half of the caves in Greece can be found on the large popular island of Crete. Here there are over 3000 caves. Many of theses caves have shown signs of being in use during prehistoric and ancient times, with several artifacts and objects being found and removed during excavations.
On Crete, out of the 3000 caves there, only 850 or so have been explored. During explorations of the caves in Crete during the last few decades, the cave of Tafkos, in the region of Petradolakia has been declared the deepest cave in Greece, which goes down to 475 meters. At the bottom is a subterranean riverbed.
The stunning stalagmites and stalactites that can be found in these caves is truly inspiring and breathtaking. They are simple beautiful to look at and admire.
One very interesting cave in Crete is located in the centre of Agios Nikolaos. Here there is a very small cave which was used during the Nazi occupation of Crete, by the resistance.
Near to the rear side of the cave, some of the men and women from this time have inscribed their names into the rock. This cave is now actually operating as a bar, and though there is no admission fee to get into the cave, it is generally expected that one would purchase a drink or refreshment there.
Located just outside of the village of Psirho is the Diktaian cave, which is considered to be the birthplace of Zeus, who was originally a Cretead God. However, there is also another cave in the region of Rethymno, called the Idaion Cave, which also claims to be the birthplace of Zeus. Housed at the Iraklion Museum are some very interesting finds from this cave.
Another very interesting cave is one that is located just north of the village of Kamarea. Here you will find the Kamares Cave. This cave was established during the Minoan Period and used as a sacred place. Many beautiful vases were recovered from this cave and these can now be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
Other than the caves in Crete, there are also some very interesting caves to be found and explored on mainland Greece. The largest cave to be found on the mainland is the Perama Cave, which is located just outside of the area of Ioannina, at the foot of Mount Goritsa.
This beautiful and stunning cave was actually discovered by chance. In 1940 at the time of bombardments during the Greek-Italian war, a resident of the village came across the cave while looking for shelter from the bombings. The cave was examined by Speleologists between 1951 and 1955, where bones and teeth of ancient cave bears was found. After much anticipation and interest, the cave was finally opened to the public in 1956.
The Perama Cave is actually part of the bed of an underground river, that was formed over 1 and a half million years ago. The river actually formed three different cave levels.
Probably the most important and famous feature that can be found in this cave is "the cross", which was actually formed when the tip of a stalagmite broke and fell, but subsequently landed between two smaller stalagmites, and rested there, thus forming a cross among the various stalagmites.
If you are interested in visiting one of the many caves around Greece, you will definitely enjoy yourself, though please remember to take precautions. It is best to visit caves which are professionally run and organised, and not try to venture into unknown caves by yourself. Also, it is advisable to wear the most practical clothing, and shoes with a good grip are an essential.