Σπήλαιο Καταφύκι

Σπηλια Καταφκι - Spilia Katafiki - Katafyki Cave - Katafiki Cave - Cave of Katafiki - Katafýki Cave - Katafaki Cave


Useful Information

Location: Fires, Driopida, Kythnos Island, Cyclades 6 km south of Kythnos, the Capital, near the village Dryopida, Dryopís.
(37.381756, 24.430072)
Open: All year daily.
[2021]
Fee: free, tips welcome.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave Speleologyriver cave, MineIron Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=1,200 m, T=15 °C, A=190 m asl.
Guided tours: D=20 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: K.G. Fiedler (1841): Reise durch alle Teile des königreiches Griechenland in Auftrag der königl. griechischen Regierung in den Jahren 1834 bis 1837, 2 vols., Leipzig. Deutsch - German pdf
Address: Katafyki Cave, Driopida 840 06, Tel: +30-2281-032250.
Kythnos Town, 84006 Kythnos, Tel: +30-22813-61100, Fax: +30-22813-61120. 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.

History

1835 first references of local iron mining.
1841 first visited by Fiedler.
1908 start of iron mining.
1939 iron mining ended.
2015 cave restored.

Description

The word Καταφκι (Katafýki) means refuge in Greek, and that is what this cave was for the people living in this area. They used the Σπήλαιο Καταφύκι (Katafyki Cave) as a hideout in the case of hostile attacks. At the time when the Aegean was filled with pirates, this was quite frequently, according to legend. More reasons to hide were the Franks and the Turkish occupation. Most important was the cave in the times of German occupation during World War II. Later the cave was used for Easter dances after the Easter mass to celebrate the Anastasis (resurrection). The locals used to dance in the main hall until dawn.

The cave is also knwon as Σπήλαιο Γεωργίου Μαρτίνου (Cave of Georgiou Martinou) after the famous Kythnian geologist, who spent a lot of time exploring the cave. His nickname was Συμπεθερούλη (Sympetheroúli).

The cave has little speleothems but many interesting erosive forms, including the specialty of the cave, thin plates or sheets of limestone formed by solution, which are called rock curtains. This are not the speleothems which are also called curtains, as they are not deposited limestone. They are built of massive limestone, the surrounding rock, where the solution removed Karren, and the remains, if they are rather thin are called Schratten.

The first tenacious exploration was made by the German traveller and geologist Fiedler, who visited the cave on his travels between 1834 and 1837 and spent a whole day exploring the cave. He later wrote a travel report, published in 1841, in which he also described this visit and the cave. It is said to be the first modern cave exploration in Greece and thus initiated modern speleology in Greece.

At the end of the nineteenth century iron ore was found in the cave and was mined for thirty years during the early 20th century. For this purpose many shafts were sunk down from the lower levels. Some tourist brochures tell about the cave which was destroyed by mining, but this is not true. The shafts are part of the cave visit.

From the entrance a staircase leads to the Great Square, also called Festival Square, the place where the villager used to make their festivals. From here many corridors lead off, the biggest is called Central Route and near the southern end a side branch leads upward into the Stalactite Chamber, which is 25 m long and 17 m wide. On the right hand side of this chamber is the location of the strange rock curtains. After returning from this corridor we now visit the Daedalic Corridors with the Adyton at its end. Then we return again and now follow the Central Route to the northern end. Here are the remains of the iron mining, several shafts in the Chamber of the Porticoes.

The cave was restored in 2015 and has a new LED light system. It is operated by the town and there is a young guide who guides for free, but is happy for a small tip. The cave tour is rather short.