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Melissani

38°15'24.2"N+20°37'27.9"E

The underground lake of Melissáni is one of the wonders of Kefalonia located 2 km from Sami.

The visit is done by boat, you will discover this 36 m deep lake whose turquoise waters communicate through galleries with chasms located 15 km away, on the other side of the island.

The lake is located inside a cave that has two large water-filled rooms and an island in the middle.
The vault of the first room is partly collapsed (50 m x 30) which allows the sky to be reflected in the water.
The entrance to the cave is made on foot through a tunnel, the visitor arrives on a quay, from where he gets into a boat.
There are some stalagmites but they are not very imposing.
During the first exploration in 1951 an old lamp was discovered. It is now on display at the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli.
The excavations carried out in 1962 by S. Marinos allowed the discovery of some important relics of an ancient civilization present in Kefalonia. Oil lamps, plates and figures of the god Pan and several nymphs. This is why the cave is also called the Nymph Caves, the lake was named after one of the nymphs, the nymph Melissanthi.
Legend has it that a nymph committed suicide in the lake because the god Pan rejected her love, which is surprising since the god Pan was a lustful god who continually pursued nymphs with his ardor. The nymph Syrinx, for example, turned into reeds to escape her desire. As the wind of his breath made the reeds moan, in homage, Pan made a musical instrument to which he gave the name of syrinx, known today under the name of pan flute.

Going down the access steps to the ramp, above your land, you will see a reproduction of the statue of Pan found in the cave. Pan is usually depicted with goat legs and horns. His erect penis is not pornographic, it is only a symbol of fertility.

According to Homer, Ulysses found himself in a cave where hung amphorae filled with honey, it was surely Melissani, the cave of bees, because Melissa means Bee in Greek, it could be the origin from the name of the cave.

Another myth says that the name of the lake comes from a shepherdess named Melisanthe, who fell into the lake and drowned while looking for a stray sheep.

The cave had a sacred character during antiquity, the faithful went there early in their life: there was no access corridor at the time.

Origin of the name :

1st hypothesis: a shepherdess trying to find a lost lamb fell into the lake and gave it its name.
2nd hypothesis: The name derives from that of the nymph Melisanthé, who committed suicide there because Pan did not respond to his amorous advances.
3rd hypothesis: the name of the cave is due to the bees (melissa) present in the region since antiquity, and related to souls, birth, and death.

From Homer's Odyssey

"Likewise, at the top of the port, there is an olive tree with broad leaves and near it, a beautiful and dark cave, sanctuary of the nymphs, which are called naiads. In the cave, there are craters and amphorae in stone. There the bees have also set up their hives."

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