|Location:||6km south east of the village of Alistrati. 50km south east of Serres, 20km south west of Drama, and 55km north west of Kavala. Well signposted from all directions. Turnoff at southern end of Alistrati, dead end road to the cave.|
|Open:||Summer daily 9-21. Winter daily 9-18.|
|Fee:||Adults EUR 3.|
|Dimension:||L=2,000m, T=20°C, H=70-74%.|
|Address:||Alistrati Cave Ltd, Alistrati Administration Enterprise, 62045 Serres, Tel: +30-324-82045, Fax: +30-324-82046. E-mail:|
|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.
|19-MAY-1975||the Commune of Alistrati notified the Hellenic Speleological Organization of the existence of the cave.|
|SEP-1975||first exploration by the Hellenic Speleological Organization.|
|OCT-1975||exploration by a group of Austrian geologists.|
|MAY-1977||exploration by the Hellenic Speleological Organization headed by Professor Symeonidis.|
Alistrati Cave is home to a large flock of wild pigeons (Columba livia) and the birds flying in and out were noticed by hunters long ago. But the cave was not explored until the Commune of Alistrati notified the Hellenic Speleological Organization of its existance. This happend in Spring 1975, and in Autumn of the same year, they sent a group of speleologists to explore the cave. A second team with speleologists from Austria made a second exploration one month later.
The cave is famous for multiple speleothems. It shows virtually any form of the common dripstones: stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, draperies, curtains and rimstone pools. But beneath them, there are rare aragonite crystals, dogtooth spars, helictites, and cave corals. This rare speleothems are very common and of extraordinary size and beauty in Alistrati Cave.
The cave is entered through an artificial tunnel. The tour path follows the main passage, which is pretty big all the time. Parts with low speleothems and parts where the walls are covered with helictites alternate. Some short parts of passage show nearly no speleothems. Probably ther was no dripping water entering the cave in this parts. But 10m down the passage, the pilars stand in rows, and not only the walls but also the stalagtites and stalagmites are covered with a thick layer of aragonite crystals.
Most of the side passages are closed, not only for the public but also for speleologists, to protect the fragile fauna of the cave. Biological examination of the cave brought a wealth of special troglodytic animals. The fauna of the cave is extremely rich in the number of species found here. All in all, 44 species were found in the cave, 13 vertebrates and 31 invertebrates. The most famous species is endemic Alistratia beroni, a very small insect found only here. An important factor for so many troglobionts is the existance of the bats, which bring a constant flow of food into the cave.
Photography is forbidden in the cave, the explanation is, to protect the cave. Obviously a lie, as we explain on the page Why taking pictures is forbidden... However, they are very obstinate and do not even allow cameras inside the cave. Not really a good idea to leave valuables like an expensive cameras in the car. Fortunately they are not only obstinate but also very polite and obliging, and so it is possible to leave valuables at the ticket office for free.
The cave visit is a bit like Disneyland: a huge parking lot, a self service restaurant, a corral for hundreds of visitors and cuing for tickets. The tours are very professional, but there are only tours in Greek, no foreign language tours at all. The path is absolutely flat, not a single step, and so the whole tour is wheelchair accessible!
In the nearby Aggitis River Gorge many caves and abris were used as shelter by man. Charles Meis, Robert Zeeman and Nikolaos Symeonidis published an article in the magazine of the Museum of Natural History Vienna, describing cave paintings they found in the caverns of the gorge. They are probably from the 5th century. The gorge is used for white water rafting at the moment, but the council of Alistrati plans to build paths and viewpoints into the gorge to make it accessible to visitors.