Melissani Cave is located about 10 km from Argostoli and 2 km Sami, in the east coast of Kefalonia (Cefalonia). The cave is surrounded by forests, while a mountain slope is located to the west. In mythology, Melissani was the cave of the Nymphs.
Melissani cave is the most spectacular lake on the island. The cave is 100 meters long and the lake takes about one third of its length. It was first discovered in 1951 and was opened for the public in 1963. However, locals were aware of its presence much earlier. The water is a mixture of sea water and sweet water.
In 1963 was proved that the cave of Melissani communicated with the underground network of the island. The seawater inserts into the ground from Katavothres in Argostoli, follows an underground route, is joined with the rainwater, reaches Melisanni’s lake and finally ends in the lake of Karavomylos.
The brackish water rises from a depth of 30 meters on one side of the cave and flows to the other end of it, while the salt water comes from sea as the cave is located only half a kilometer away from the sea and is a meter higher than the sea level.
In 1953, during an earthquake, the cave’s roof fell in, creating wonderful light displays on the cave’s walls. Be sure to visit the cave between July and August, at the middle of the day, when the sun reflected in water is creating mind dazzling colors on the walls.
During the first exploration of the cave, an article has been found: an ancient lantern. Now it’s on display at the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli. Later on, other artifacts have been found, among them a clay figurine depicting the god Pan, a fragment showing the figure of a woman in relief who is believed to be the nymph Melissanthe and a disc showing Pan surrounded by dancing nymphs. All are now on display in the museum. Because of the Nymph figure, the caves also bear the name of Cave of the Nymphs.
You can take a complete tour of the cave in a boat. First, you’ll be taking a trip around the first hall of the cave, around the hole in the roof, and then the boat passes the island, to go to the other side where a small channel exists. The gondolier now pulls the boat through the narrow channel to the second hall of the cave. This chamber has a lot of big stalactites and stalagmites.