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Petralona Cave

The existence of an abundance of caves in a country, where 65% of the terrain is limestone, is perfectly normal. Besides, Greece is the second country after China with the largest number of caves in the world. Several thousand of these formations have been explored, mapped and studied, and more than 100 have been described as of remarkable interest το visitors.
In 1959 a villager of Petralona, in Halkidiki, Northern Greece, in his effort to find sources of water for the needs of the settlement, found a small cleft on the slopes of Mount Katsika. Two adventurous young men were lowered by rope to a depth of 13 meters and when they surfaced, they described the beautiful formations of stalactites and stalagmites, which they had seen for the first time in their lives.

Petralona_cave © GNTO/ Halkidiki Prefecture

The same year the first scientific exploration and study of the cave, by the President of the Greek Speleological Society John Petrohilos and Anna Petrohilos, was carried out. The ones that followed, until 1964, revealed a large number of chambers and corridors, totaling 8 to 10 meters high, with an impressive decor.

The rock formations resemble giant cactus, pink pearls, sturdy columns or delicate curtains, and in several places water ponds are fed by stalactite material.

Besides its importance for the natural beauty and size, the cave is very important, as it presents anthropological and paleontological interest. In 1960, during the exploration works, the most important finding was the cranium of a primitive man, unique in Greece, which is now at the University of Thessaloniki. He lived about 200,000 years ago, belongs to a transitional form, between Homo Erectus (the Standing Man) and Homo Sapiens (the Wise Man) and is the oldest testimony to the presence of humans in Greece. The cranium was covered with an encrustation of stalactite material. Fossilized bones and teeth of the regional fauna were also found, including cave bears, hyenas, lions, leopards, rhinos, deer and equids. The fossils, together with a number of tools made of stone or bones, used by the primitive inhabitant of the cave, are exhibited at the Paleontological Museum, located only a few steps away from the cave.

The research continued until 1976. With a grant of the Greek National Tourism Organisation and care of the Greek Speleological Society it has opened to the public in 1979. Covering an area of 10,400 square meters, the length of the corridors is about 2,000 meters and temperature throughout the year remains stable at 17 ° C (± 1 º C). It is located 800 meters from the settlement of Petralona, and is 50 km from Polygyros, capital of the Halkidiki prefecture and 50 km from Thessaloniki.


Athena Tsakiri
Licensed Tourist Guide

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