Worship Caves – Caves – Abysses
In Parnitha there are several cult caves and precipices, with the most interesting the following:
- At the highest peak of Parnitha in Karavola there is a cult cave, measuring 2.50x5m. with almost vertical walls in which a considerable number of finds were found. The curator of antiquities who carried out the rescue excavations in 1959 notes: In the cave there was an altar to which led a procession road, part of which is carved into the natural rock. The depth of the cave was 2.20 m from the ground surface, it was paved with raw, slow and medium-sized stones and it went deep, as can be deduced from the water vapor coming out of the layer of argoliths. On the floor of the cave were found shells (pieces of pottery), covered by a thin layer of ash as well as stone and copper tools. The shells belonged to winemakers of the Early Helladic period, who had engraved decoration. The vessels of the cave were of purely cult use and in many wine cellars a hole had been opened in the base for the outflow of spinal fluid. Most of the shells bore engraved names “on the sides”, ie letters from right to left. As for the name of the worshiped deity, it is written on many shells and it is Parnithios Zeus, mentioned by Pausanias. But the most important finds of the cave were a large number of iron knives, about 3000, as well as 5 brass ones. These are votive offerings of farmers of Attica and had nothing to do with military purposes. According to a report by Pausanias, those who worshiped Zeus avoided sacrificing animals that were useful for agricultural work and with ceremonies similar to the “Bipolar” purified the knife that they considered a deadly instrument and guilty of slaughter. In the area of Karavola it is believed that the sanctuary of Parnithios Zeus should be placed, where the bronze worship statue of the god, mentioned by Pausanias, was erected. It is not ruled out, however, that there was some connection between the location of the cave of Chariot and the Signals, a celebration that is said to have taken place in honor of Zeus.
- Apart from Zeus in Parnitha, the tramp-footed god Pan and the Nymphs had their cave. In the ravine of Goura, on its eastern slope, there is a cave called “Lychnospilia” due to the more than 2000 lamps that were found there during the archeological excavations carried out in 1900 by Professor A. Skias. The locals call it “lychnarite” or “lychnariteza” or “lychnarotripa”. It is located at an altitude of 675 m. On the southwest side of Parnitha and 35 m. Above the kennel of the ravine of Goura. The cave is mainly accessible from the fortress of the Tribe or from a path marked by climbers, which starts from the junction of the Bontias stream and a forest road. The entrance of the cave is shaded by a plane tree and ivy climbs the vertical rocks outside the cave. The cave is known as “Andros tou Panos” and as “Nymfaion”. Here was worshiped the trampled Pan, the protector of shepherds, flocks, forests and caves. The first chamber of the cave was about 65 m long and 15 m wide. An elevated narrow passage leads to a second small space 20 m long, 9 m wide and 4 m high that was explored only in 1960 by I. Ioannou . Its excavation was extremely laborious, because it had been formed by the work of solid limestone. The running water had formed stalactites on the roof and on the sides, while in its soil larger and smaller cavities had been created, of which, those located in the inner part of the cave were full of innumerable lamps, which the large crowd gave name in the cave. The cave is entered by small steps carved into the rock. At its entrance there are hemispherical niches for the placement of tributes and engraved inscriptions. The most important is the one to the right of the entrance, where it is found that the river of Oza (as the gorge of Goura is called differently) was named Keladon and the worshiped deity was Panas. Until a few years ago, the rare Nifargos, which were small aquatic animals, lived in the spring at the end of its main chamber, as well as in the small basins on its floor made of dripping material that periodically have water. Three consecutive layers were found in the cave, which contained a large amount of ash and pieces of pottery from different eras. The upper layer belonged to the Hellenistic, Roman and early Byzantine times. The findings of the other two prehistoric strata prove the existence of an ancient cult and perhaps a prehistoric sanctuary. From the middle layer of the cave come twelve marble votive reliefs, nine inscriptions and some small objects among which stands out a small golden votive bed and a gold buckle in the form of a cicada. In the cave were also found bronze and gold rings with relief representations, as well as small plates of thin silver foil, which served as a lining of a wooden compass (jewelry box). The most interesting figurine found is that of the god Pan sitting squatting and playing the flute. Copper coins and medical tools were also found, leading to the conclusion that the god of Medicine, Asclepius, was also worshiped in the cave. The cave was well known to the ancients and the comedy “Difficult” written in 317 BC. from the most eminent poet of the new Attic comedy Menandros, is played entirely in the area of Andros tou Panos.
- Cave abyss – Dhekelia Sink. It is located near the former royal estates of Tatoi next to a dirt road, a branch of the main public road that leads to Agios Mercourios. Its entrance may have been closed. It has a vertical depth of 23 m. At a depth of 10 m, two chambers open to the left and right of the central vertical well, one of which has a large stalagmite 2 m high and the other has many white stalactites on its roof.
- Cave abyss Daveli. It is located at an altitude of 760 m. On the south – southwest ridge of the peak Daveli. Its opening has an east-west direction and dimensions on the surface 6×3.5 m. After a vertical depth of 5 m. Begins a large downhill room of about 20×10 m., As well as a smaller one that communicates with a small opening. It was explored in 2001. Although its mouth is between large arbutus and holly trees, it is relatively easy to find, because it is about 20 meters west of the large southern doline of the peak and next to the very sharp rocks of the area. Daveli peak – cavern – Xerovouni peak are in a straight line.
- Holy Trinity Cave. It is located at an altitude of 1000 m. And at a distance of 350 m. From “Xenia” and to the right of the first major left turn of the road that goes to Agia Triada. The soils from the opening of the road closed its large entrance and have left only two small vertical openings. The large room that extends below the road is as calculated dimensions 50×10 m. It is unknown if there is continuity.
- Theodora stream caves. (400 m. – 380 m.) On the east side of the Kasubi hill. Older local names “ascetic cave” and “corsair cave”
- Cave in the southern chariot, at Pagania (680 m.), north of the Monastery of Kleiston. Local name of Pagania.
- Kalogeros Cave, north of Hasia, at the root of Alogopetra (600 m.).
- Anonymous Cave, on the west side of Alogopetra (480 m.)
- Premi Cave. (680 m.) Between Tamilithi and Alogopetra, almost next to the path Tamilthi – Avrami – Fili.
- Anonymous cave, at an altitude of about 550 m on the east side of the Goura gorge and west of the Tamilthi spring.
- Sarri Cave at an altitude of 700m. about, at the northeastern end of Armata and above (west) the gorge of Goura. Its approach requires climbing knowledge.
- Bataka Cave at an altitude of 740 m. at the junction of the forest road Agia Triada – Klimenti with the ravine of Goura. Water gushes from the floor of the small cave in winter, probably from the nearby Poros spring.
- Cave at the top of Plati Vouno, on its western side and at an altitude of 950 m. above the path Goura – Kroniza, where there are characteristic rocks. It has dimensions at the entrance 15×10 m and a depth of about 20 m.
- Korpi Cave at an altitude of 540 m. north of the Monastery of Genesis of the Virgin Dardiza. The church of Agios Antonios has been built at its entrance.
- Caves in the stream Platanaki, on the east side of Lykorachi.
- Kiousi Cave at an altitude of 900 m. east of Flampouraki and next to the path.
- Anonymous cave at an altitude of 350 m. on the north side of the Peak Ageladitsa, south of the railway line.
- Low cave in the mountain of Agia Marina at an altitude of 355 m. In front of the cave has been built the homonymous church in Mavrorema.
- Vilia Cave on the west side of the Dardiza peak, near the desert church of Agia Sotira (420 m.).
- Keramidi top abyss. It is located at an altitude of about 960 m, very close to the top of Keramidi, above the characteristic rocks. It has a total depth of 27 m and was explored on 21-2-1937 and 10-10-1943. Its entrance may have been closed.
- Abysses Tamilthi. They are located at an altitude of about 650 m., Northwest of the peak Tamilthi and between the source Sykia (Honi) and the path Tamilthi – Kiafa Pini. Their seven (7) openings (entrances) are in a parallel direction with the gorge of Goura. The first abyss with dimensions 75 m. Length, 35 m. Depth and 5 m. width, was explored on 21-4-1946, and the second with a total depth of 35 m was discovered on 9-3-1947.
- Abyss of Gouras or Midnight. It is located at an altitude of about 720 m., On the western slope of the gorge of Goura, just opposite the cave of Panos, almost next to the path that goes to Kalamara or Kalyva Kalogerou. It has an opening of 3 m and a depth of 20 m and is referred to as Gouras abyss.
- Abyss of the Closed Monastery. It is located at an altitude of 410 m. In the courtyard of the Monastery of Kleiston and has a depth of 11 m., Length 8 m. And width 3 m.
- Skourton Sink. Large cavern located at an altitude of 550 m. On the plateau of Dervenochoria, west of the homonymous settlement. It has an initial vertical depth of 13 m and continues in an underground torrent bed to end after 56 m in a lake. Its pit is in the shape of a tunnel with a ceiling height of 6 -10 m. A 210 m section of the cave sink has several small lakes.
From the above we conclude that Parnitha was really a sacred mountain in ancient times. However, apart from its sacred character, it was also the strong border between Attica and Boeotia. Of all the Greek mountains, Parnitha has the most ancient fortresses.
The Athenian state had built a series of fortifications that really made Parnitha a difficult gate to the north of Athens. Many of them are now destroyed, cluttered in piles of rubble. To get to know them one has to follow the ancient roads and the various mountain paths.