As Greece is a country with rich geological structure and evolution, thousands of subterranean and underwater caves have been formed both in the mainland and the islands. Systematic explorations by geologists and speleologists all around the country have brought to light more than 8,500 caves, many of which are still unexplored. The large number of caves in Greece is because of the huge quantities of limestone covering about 65% of the surface.
Caves in Greece were formed gradually during the Tertiary and the Quaternary Period. Some are simple caverns, other are abyss or underground rivers, while the most impressive are the caves with stalactites and stalagmites. Originally, the caves in Greece were used as residences and places of worship, as shown by archaeological findings. In later times, they housed churches and monasteries, while many of them were also used as hermitages by monks. During the independence war of Greece, numerous caves served as shelters, hideaways and hospitals for the fighters and women and children.
Guide to famous caves
Impressive and famous caves in Greece with stalactites and stalagmites are found all over the country. Perama Cave in Ioannina, Diros Caves in southern Peloponnese, Kapsa Cave in central Peloponnese, Cave of the Lakes in northern Peloponnese and Alistrati Caves in Serres are the most famous. The island of Kefalonia also hosts two important caves: Drogarati Cave with the wonderful acoustics and the Lake Cave of Melissani.
The deepest caves in Greece are found in Crete island, in the White Mountains and Mount Psiloritis. In fact, the Cave of Ideon Andron in Psiloritis is where god Zeus was raised, according to the mythology. Another cave connected to mythology is the Cave of Philoctetes in Lemnos island, where the hero Philoctetes was abandoned by his war companies on the way to Troy, as he got stunk by a snake. Another cave connected to a historical figure is the Cave of Pythagoras in Samos island, where the great mathematician was hiding while his political opponents were chasing him.
Other caves of archaeological importance, as many evidences from the prehistoric and the historic times were found inside are Petralona Cave in Halkidiki, Corycian Cave in Delphi, Francthi Cave in Ermioni, Olympi Cave in Chios and Charkadio Cave in Tilos. Caves with chapels inside are also many, such as the Cave of Agia Sofia in Kythira, the Cave of Antiparos, Milatos Cave in Crete and the Acropolis Cave in Athens with the small chapel of Zoodohos Pighi inside.