|Image: the entrance to Drogkarati is a huge doline where part of the cavern caved in.|
3km from Sami, Island Cephalonia.
From Sami follow road to Argostoli. Turn right towards Chaliotata 1km after the end of the village. Cave is at the right hand side of the road after 2km. Signposted.
|Open:||All year daily 8:30-20:30.|
|Fee:||Adults EUR 4, Children EUR 2.|
|Dimension:||VR=60m, Ar=1,000m², T=18°C, H=90%.|
|Guided tours:||self guided.|
|Bibliography:||no author (no year): Drongorati Cave, booklet sold at the cave entrance, EUR 1.|
Community of Chaliotata, Tel: +30-674-22853.
Drogkarati Cave, Tel: +30-674-22950.
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|Image: At the bottom of the doline, the cave is entered.|
|1100, 1600, 1700||the roof caved in during an earthquake and the cave was discovered by the locals.|
|1963||opened to the public.|
|Image: the first part of the cave is filled with debris and gives access to the balconies.|
Drogkarati Cave became its actual shape during a heavy earthquake, when a large part of the cave collapsed. One end collapsed completely and produced a huge doline at the surface, which provided access to the rest of the cave. The middle part collapsed partly and so this part has a much higher floor today, consisting of debris, including huge blocks of limestone. The other end of the cave was damaged only a little. Some broken stalagmites maybe a result of this earthquake.
|Image: one of the balconies with cave visitors.|
When the earthquake happened is not clear. Three different cave descriptions, all printed by the same cave administration, talk of 300, 400, and 900 years respective. As unclear as this date is the identity or name of the cave discoverer. The story about locals discovering the cave right after the earthquake sounds rather logical, but is just a guess.
Most probably there was originally a single huge cavern, some 100m long, divided into two parts by huge blocks of debris which fell from the ceiling during thousands of years, and now forms a balcony. This debris is not the result of a recent earthquake, as huge stalagmites have grown on the blocks, which takes several thousand years.
The visitor enters the cave through the natural entrance. A nice path with many steps leads down the slope of the doline, leading in numerous u-turns to the cave entrance. Above the entrance some fences protect the visitors from rocks, which may probably fall from the cliff above. The doline is full of trees and shrubs, so the path is shady.
|Image: the Chamber of Exaltation. The balcony in the middle of the image and the paths up to the left and right.|
When the visitor enters the first hall, the stairs end. The path divides into two, and the visitor has to decide which one he takes. It does not really matter, as it is a round trip, but most of the people go down at the right side, so we will describe it this way. The first hall has a more or less flat floor, which is most likely a result of human improvements. The Balcony, which is reached by a short branch of the path at the end of the hall, is definitely man made. Several huge stalagmites used to make a sort of fence at the rim. Beyond lies the Chamber of Exaltation, named so because of its wonderful acoustics.
|Image: the way back up.|
Now we follow the path down into the main chamber, which uses a sort of side passage, separated from the rest of the cave mostly by stalagmites and stalactites. Unfortunately most of the speleothems are destroyed. Only stubs remain, telling a story of vandalism. Of course, several stalactites were destroyed by the frequent earthquakes. But the cave was freely accessible for a long time and many people went in to gather a souvenir.
At a depth of 60m below ground, we reach the floor of the Chamber of Exaltation, also called Concert Room. It is a semi-circular, level floored hall, about 40x30m and 15m high. It is used for concerts for an audience of up to 500 people. The balcony with the stalagmites is used to seat officials and is thus named the Royal Balcony. The performers play from a slightly raised recess in the wall flanked by stalagmites.
The floor of this hall is obviously intensively altered by man, the level floor made artificial. This left no single speleothem inside the hall, which is surrounded on a paved path. The floor of the hall is made of grit.
After surrounding the hall the path arrives at the other side of the descent, and another path leads up into the entrance hall, again with a short branch to another balcony. Then we return through the doline back to the surface.
Like so many Greek caves, this cave is illuminated only by yellow lamps, making the cave look dark and a little sick. The photographs on this page do not show this, as they were mostly made with flash. On the other hand the cave is visited on a self guided tour, which should give anyone enough time, photography is allowed, and the fee is admissibly. All in all the visit was enjoyable.
|Spilaio Drogkarati Gallery|