Melissani Lake 'Cave of the Nymphs'

Melissani Lake is thought to have been once worshipped by the ancient Greeks.

 

It is located around 2 km Northwest of Sami and around 5 km from Agia Efimia. Melissani is a natural geological phenomenon where the roof of the cave has collapsed, creating a hollow opening to the sky. The cave is surrounded by a forest and mountain slope to the West. As soon as the sun hits the opening above, the rays light up the water creating a magnificent bright turquoise colour. The waters of the lake appear so clear that the rowing boats look like they are 'floating on air.'

 

The entrance through to the cave is down a walkway and once inside, a boatman awaits you to transport you across the magical blue lake. Legend has it that Melissani was the mythical cave of the nymphs and was named after the nymph Melissanthi. Melissanthi who according to the ancient Greek myth, fell in love with the god Pan but he did not love her, so broken hearted and overcome with sadness she fell into the lake and drowned.

 

The water in the lake is brackish, which is a mixture of seawater and freshwater. It is around 500 metres from the coast and the water level in the cave is about a metre above sea level. The water has a maximum depth of 30 metres. The lake inside the cave is fed naturally with seawater connected to sink holes named 'Katovothres', this is where the water mills can be found in Argostoli.

 

The cave and underground lake were discovered in 1951 and later on in the early 1960s, archaeologists discovered many ancient artefacts dating back to the 3rd and 4th century BC. These objects included an ancient lamp, a clay figure of Pan and clay plates showing dancing nymphs. 

It is a strange feeling but as you are taken across the lake you can picture the tragic mythical love story of Melissanthi and the Greek god Pan.  

Melissani is a popular tourist attraction in Kefalonia and the best time to visit is around midday when the sun is directly overhead, although it is still equally as enchanting at other times. 

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