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Greece » Cyclades islands » Folegandros island » Folegandros Sightseeing » Chryssospilia
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Chryssospilia

Folegandros has a very important monument of Nature, the beautiful and impressive cave called Chryssospilia (which in Greek means “golden cave”). It is situated at the eastern coast of the island, before arriving to the Cape of Panaghia (which in the past was called Cape Grotto). The cave is found on the mountainside of the mountain of Palaiokastro, which at this place falls steeply into the sea.

Chryssospilia is a big cave, one of the biggest of Greece. The major part of the cave is unexplored. The entrance of the cave is found at an altitude of some 10 meters from the sea level and the interior is richly decorated with stalactites and stalagmites. After the wide space of the entrance there is a long chamber with the stalactites forming a “throne”.
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Hundreds of ancient names, inscribed on the walls with argil material, have been recently discovered in the cave. It is a unique archaeological site as, according to the scholars, these are names of adolescent people and the cave served as a ritual place for the rites of passage to manhood in the 4th century b.C., as it is evidenced by the ancient author Ephorus. Apart from the inscriptions, the cave has further archaeological interest, as archaeological surveys in the interior have brought to light human skeletal remains, numerous potsherds and the ruins of a cistern of the Roman period. Archaeologists suggest that it has been used also as a cult place, or as a place of mystic rites, judging from some finds as oil lamps with love scenes, phallus-shaped statuettes. Archaeological surveys are still in progress - although very slowly - and bring to light several new finds and evidence for the use of the cave.

During the period of the Ottoman domination of the island the cave served as a shelter for the residents of the island when pirates attacked the island. It was a good shelter, as there was there a spring with potable cool water, which filled the Roman cisterns. It is for this reason that shepherds lead here their goats to water them.

Due to its archaeological importance, the place is protected by the Greek Archaeological Service and access to it is restricted.

Access to the cave is very difficult, both from the interior of the island and from the sea. If you wish to enter the cave, it is necessary to have the permission of the Community of Folegandros. Access from the sea is possible only when the sea is totally calm. In summer, provided the weather allows it, the excursion boats that make the daily tour of the island reach the cave and stay there for a while so that the visitors can see the entrance from the boat. From the interior of the island access is extremely difficult, via an old path, which today has been almost totally disappeared and only a few locals know it. Access to the cave is absolutely free and easy only for the …goats of the island which use to come here for water. The passengers of the excursion boat have often the chance to come across and impressive and unexpected spectacle: they can see the goats climbing or standing on the steep, almost vertical rocks to gaze the sea. Quite an original theme for photos!! And of course, access is free for the sea gulls, cormorants and other wild birds for which the cave is a safe shelter.
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