Cave of Alepotrypa - Fox Hole - Diros Caves

Useful Information

Location: At the head of the Bay of Diros, 220 m east of the cave ShowcaveGlifada.
Open: All year Tue-Sun 8:30-15.
Fee: Adults EUR 2, Reduced EUR 1.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=19 °C (air and 18 °C (water), A=20 m asl., L=870 m.
Guided tours: L=270 m, self guided.
Bibliography: J S Vourlitis ND (~1970): Caverns Of Mani, 72 photos, 12 pp text in English German and Greek. SB
Anastasia Papathanasiou (2005): Health status of the Neolithic population of Alepotrypa Cave, Greece, Am J Phys Anthropol. 2005 Apr;126(4):377-90.
Anna Petrocheilou (1970): The Diros Caves of Mani: Alepotrypa and Glyphada, 32 p., [16] leaves of plates : ill. (some col.), maps ; 17 cm.
Address: Diros Neolithic Museum, Pirgos Dirou, 23062, Tel: +30-27330-52233.
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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1958 discovered by a dog chasing a fox.
1958 explored by Mr. and Mrs. Petrocheilos of the Greek Speleological Society.
1958 first excavations by the Greek Speleological Society.
1960s development as a show cave and opened to the public.
1970 archaeological excavations under the director of the Ephorate Giorgos Papathanasopoulos continued the investigation.
1992 archaeologic museum opened at the cave entrance.
JUL-2006 opened as a show cave.


Alepotrypa cave was inhabited by prehistoric man and was a considerable centre of the people living at those times. Archaeologists found human bones and fossils from the Neolithic era. It has provided much information about the daily life of prehistoric man. Many of the artifacts found here belonged to the Late Paleolithic or Neolithic periods and closed the gap between Asia and Europe. They proved that there were cultural connections between the two continents and that Greece was one of the links.

The cave is one of the most notable archaeological sites in Europe. The excavations produced

Some skeletons were not buried, leading to speculation that an earthquake in the Neolithic Age had blocked the cave entrance and trapped some inhabitants. Outside the cave, in shallow hollows, fragments of shaped tools in obsidian were found in red earth.

This cave was inhabited between 7,000 to 5,200 years ago, when farming first spread to Europe. The excavation reveal much about this dawn of civilization in Europe. They ate a diet heavy in barley and wheat with little meat or fish. The climate was wetter and more forested. The people were not much different physically from those in the Mediterranean today. But they were slightly anemic due to a lack of meat in their diet.

The discoveries are today owned by Greek museums and archaeological institutions, but a huge part is on display on the Neolithic Museum at the entrance of the cave. The cave is actually entered through the museum. The cave was closed for the public for many years, in order to allow archaeological excavations.

Alepotrypa has two levels, on the lower is an underground river with a known length of 270meters, the upper level is dry and has a length of about six hundred meters. It was formed during the Pleistocene.

The cave was discovered by a dog that chased a fox into its fox-earth and needed three days to find the way back. That is why it was called Alepotrypa or fox-earth. It was explored by the most famous Greek speleologists, Ioannis Petrocheilos and Anne Petrocheilou, in the same year. They also discovered the archaeological remains and made a first excavation.

The cave was also used by the resistance during World War II in the fight against the invading Nazis.

The tour enters and leaves the cave at the same entrance, there is a round trip almost 600 m long in the main passage. It starts in the Hall of Crystal Rain with its fine speleothemes. The next chamber, which is smaller, is the location of a cult site. Then a huge chamber follows, called great Hall. It has a small lake to the right and the so-called Great lake at the far end. Here the path turns and leads back on the other side of the chamber.