Beaches, Caves, Nymphs and Dragons
Well, Cryptoworld is back from a well earned break in very-sunny Kefelonia. The island is beautiful and although it is technically a tourist destination, it is really easy to find a quiet spot away from the bright pink bodies all laid out like sausages on the beach, sizzling in the sun. They almost look like a kind of offering to the Greek sun-god Helios!
If you delve back before the earthquake of 1953 and the second Word War, even before Louis De Bernieres Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, you will find a whole wealth of magical history, find weird and wonderful natural geological sights and stories of strange creatures and monsters.
The island offers plentiful natural beauty including beaches, many of which are inaccessible from land. It is well worth the effort to hire a small boat to go exploring these tiny coves as you will usually have the beach and its spectacular view all to yourself. Mirtos, the most famous beach, tends to be a major tourist attraction, probably because it has been ranked fifth worldwide for its scenic view.
There are some spectacular caves, in fact Greece has more caves in relation to its size that any other country, so far around 7,500 have been recorded. On Kefalonia, the Drogaráti Cave and the lake cave of Melissáni are probably the most famous, although there are many more that are not generally open to the public.
Drongaráti cave is spectacular and consists of two massive chambers. The roof has fallen in on the first, but this offers fantastic views into the second, which has a level floor and semi-circle chamber measuring approximately 65×45 meters and about 20 meters high. The chamber is full of stalactites and has excellent acoustics and sometimes concerts are held in the cave.
The lake cave of Melissáni is also spectacular, part of the cave roof has completely collapsed allowing the sun to shine directly on the lake, causing the iridescence of the water to reflect on the stalactites and cave walls, creating a magical kaleidoscopic effect.
In 1963 archaeologists found a clay figurine of Pan and a disc with a relief of Pan surrounded by dancing nymphs. It has been suggested that the cave could actually be the ‘Cave of the Nymphs’ as described in the Odyssey.
The highest point of the island is Megálos Sorós (1,628 meters) at the southern end of the island on Mt, Énos. The whole area around Mt. Énos is connected with mythology and history as well as many local legends and traditions. In antiquity there was an altar to Zeus Ainesios, the father of gods and men at the summit. Traces of it can still be seen today, but I must confess we struggled to find any of it.
Popular imagination has woven many curious stories around the dense, often impenetrable forests around Mt. Énos. Official records from 1509 record of a legend of a ‘gigantic winged dragon’ that lived on the mountain, that was said to eat the local inhabitants around the town of Áyios Nikólaos. All efforts to kill the monster appear to have ended in failure, until two brothers named Brescani succeeded in overpowering and subsequently slayed the beast. The dragon was then burnt outside the church of Áyios Nikólaos and the brothers were given large estates as a reward.
In part two of Cryotoworlds Kefalonian vacation: The Katavóthres (swallow holes), Cyclopean wall of the acropolis of ancient Krane, Kástro (the Castle of St. George) and the Mycenaean tomb at Tzannáta.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any question or suggestion.