Mediterranean Spelunking

January 27, 2012 by

Best Of Lists, Sightseeing, Things To Do, Unforgettable Experiences

View of Crete from inside a cave. Photo courtesy of Guillaume Capron via Flickr.

View of Crete from inside a cave. Photo courtesy of Guillaume Capron via Flickr.

There is a wide array of explored and unexplored caves and cave systems throughout the Greek Islands and Greece’s mainland. Whether you’re a first-time spelunker or a seasoned explorer, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the fair Mediterranean. The following are a few of the most popular and rewarding sites.

1). Cave of Antiparos. The famous cave on the island of Antiparos (near Paros in the central Aegean) has been an intermittent refuge for centuries. Despite looting, many of the stalactites within bear inscriptions from the Marquis de Novandel and Bishop de Gabrie left during a mass held in honor of the French ambassador to Constantinople in 1673, as well as at least one Greek king, a lyric poet who lived from 728 to 650 B.C., and other figures in history.

2). Caving in Crete. Some of the most fascinating cave systems in the whole of Greece are located on the island of Crete (nearly half of the known caves in the country are found there, in fact). The Cave of Ilithias is among the many caves employed as worship sites for the cult of Eileithyia, while the so-called Diktaian Cave is the famed birthplace of Zeus. A trip to the latter is best undertaken on the back of a donkey or a mule (both of which can be rented in the nearby village of Psihro).

3). The Diros Caves. Easily one of the most popular natural attractions in Greece (and deservedly so), The Diros Caves are often compared in kind to the caldera of Santorini. A trip to the complex involves a boat trip through a stunning underground waterway. It’s best to attempt a visit early in the day, as lines into the caves quickly grow to demoralizing lengths during the high season.

-John Reality

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