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, 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 away 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 a little 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 water, lighting the cave with a fabulous blue light. It sometimes feels like the boats are hovering over the clear blue water! So, the best time to visit the cave is on a sunny day at midday.
Melissani Boat Trip
The complete tour of Melissani Lake is done by small fishing boats. They first make a round trip around the first hall with the hole in the roof. Then, the boats go past the island on the opposite wall, where a small channel exists. This channel is too narrow to row, but there is a rope on 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. The second chamber has numerous big stalactites and stalagmites.
Melissani Cave History
1951: First exploration, discovery of an ancient lamp on the central hill.
1959: Dye tracing experiments revealed the connection to the Katavothres in Argostoli.
1962: Excavations on the central hill.
1963: Entrance tunnel built, cave opened to the public.
Drogarati’s Cave is located very close to Sami and 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 ground level, the temperature is 18 C and the humidity is 90%. It has been open to the public since 1963. Archaeologists claim that Drogarati cave is over 100 million years old.
Speleologists have confirmed that the cave has an extension that, however, is not approachable. That means that the cave is most probably connected to other caves in the area. It has got numerous impressive stalactites and stalagmites created from the rain, which comes through the rocky level of the cave and deposits its elements on the edge of the stalactites. A stalactite grows 1cm every 100 years! Unfortunately, many stalactites are broken, some because of the earthquakes, some others due to human activity. The big hall of the cave (900m2) is very well known for its perfect acoustics. It is therefore also used for concerts, especially in the summer.