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Chrysospilia

Chrysospilia is a unique natural monument.

It is a remote cave on the north-eastern side of the island, about 30 metres above sea level, with a significant speleological and archaeological interest. It has a length of 300 m and two main chambers joined to each other by a small corridor. Roman wells and a large number of shells have been found on the floor of the first chamber, while the second chamber is decorated with impressive stalactite formations.

However, the element that makes Chrysospilia a unique monument of the global cultural heritage is the large number of ancient names covering its walls and ceiling. The names date mainly from the 4th century BC and belong to young adults who arrived here from all parts of Greece. The young adults who managed to enter the main chamber inscribed their names on the walls, thus leaving a trace of their visit.

It is thought that the nature of the visit was religious and that this difficult venture took place within the framework of a coming-of-age ceremony. Around 400 male names have been recorded (female names are rarer), and many of them are accompanied by surnames recording their place of origin. Also, the existence of human bones at the entrance to Chrysospilia has led the creation of legends that describe the cave as the islanders’ hideout from the pirates.

Steps built in antiquity lead up to the cave, and are known as the “Hellenic steps”. Access to cave is still difficult and dangerous however, especially when there is a strong north wind blowing. The cave is also accessible from the sea, but visits are not allowed since the archaeological investigation has not been completed and there is no infrastructure in place for accessing and visiting the cave.

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Island Secrets

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Chrysospilia

February 5, 2020