zpravodajství životního prostředí již od roku 1999

Melissani - speleological place of interest

Melissani - speleological place of interest
The subterranean lake of Melissani The subterranean lake of Melissani

The speleologist Giannis Petrochilos discovered the subterranean lake of Melissani in 1951. A large part of the ceiling has collapsed and thus it can be viewed and studied in the first place. The subterranean lake of Melissani is a thrilling natural monument which can fortunately be visited. Visitors pass through an underground gallery and participate in a delightful guided boat trip on the cold waters of this lake that offers them the chance to admire its unequalled stalactite formations.

The abyss at which the lake is located owes its formation to an extremely rare geologic phenomenon which involves the erosion of calcareous rocks by water. Through the karstification process, water forms cavities; in fact, the salts that it contains result in the creation of stalactites. It is estimated that entire Cephalonia has caves and abysses which were born according to this natural method. It is also believed that the waters of the lake communicate with other subterranean waterways, such as the swallow holes or the sea waters of the bay of Argostoli. This is why the water of the lake is subsaline.

The lake was known in ancient times. It was the place where the god Pan was worshipped and the nymph Melissanthe committed suicide, according to mythology, because this goat-footed god did not respond to her love. The lake has an island where Spyros Marinatos discovered a sanctuary dedicated to the god Pan. Earthen objects, including the figurine of Pan, as well as plaques depicting an embossed female figure and a procession of nymphs were found in situ. All of them together with other findings are exhibited at the archaeological museum of Cephalonia.

There is also the version of tradition as far as the name of the lake is concerned. According to it, Melissanthe, a young shepherdess of dazzling beauty, drowned here while trying to find her missing sheep.

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