South-western slopes of Pendeli, north of Athens.
|Classification:||Karst cave cave church|
|Guided tours:||self guided|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1977||army started to construct a mysterious base at the cave.|
Daveli's Cave is located in an ancient marble quarry, the place where most of the marble for the Parthenon and the Acropolis were quarried.
The cave was named in the 19th century after Daveli, a shepherd of the Pendeli Monastery. He was falsely accused of theft by the abbot. A policeman thought he was a deserter from the army and tried to arrest him. As a result he killed the policeman either on self defense or in error, and had to flee. Hiding at the cave, he robbed travellers and the rich of the nearby villages. He became rather famous, had some kind of Robin Hood status, and was popular by various romantic society ladies.
Daveli's Cave is a place of great archaeological and historic interest. During ancient time it was a place of worship to god Pan. Later two byzantine chapels were errected in the cave entrance area.
The smaller chapel is the older one, entirely cut out of the rock. It contains several engravings on the natural wall of the cave, probably made by anchorites. It is not clear if they are older than the church, probably they are from the 7th century.
The bigger chapel has the date 1234 or 1274, it is hard to decipher, inscribed on the dome. A mural in this chapel is representing Michael Akominatos, the last Greek archbishop of Athens before its conquest by the Crusaders in 1205. It has been removed to the Byzantine Museum in Athens. Once this cave and chapel were inhabited by monks or hermits. Their bones were buried in a space under the floor.
Behind the chapels, the cave starts, which consists more or less of a single huge chamber. Artificial and natural niches and pedestals on the walls once held statues and offerings. A hollow in the wall bears a small water pond. On the far side, at a strange stalagmite formation, a small passage leads downwards. At one place a formation of stalagmite, like a curtain, once separated a second chamber from the entrance hall. Now, after the formation has long gone, both seem to be a single huge hall. At the end of this hall, a short passage is subject of various speculations. There are rumours, that this passage once lead to far destinations, but like most of those speculations they seem to be based on the overwhelming and exaggerating descritpions of early visitors.
There are much more legends about this cave, as it is a center of UFO research and a mythical place. During the 19th century, resin collectors heared sounds of celebration like music and voices raised in laughter and song, somtimes when they met at the cave in the evenings. Those rumorurs intensified, when in 1977 the army started to construct a mysterious base at the cave. There are connections to the Philadelphia Experiment and numerous legends about strange sightings. The Pendeli area is said to show gravitational anomalies, with the cave at the center of the anomalies. The supporters of those ideas tell, the paranormal activity was a reason why this place was used for worship during millennia.
Today the cave is accessible, some parts are covered by concrete though. There are still the two Byzantine chapels, and a single huge cavern with a length of 80 m which may be visited. The floor is level and there is no difficulty at all. The walls of the quarry around the cave are used by climbers.