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Excursions in Kefalonia

The Melissani Cave
Melissani Cave

Tours and excursions in Kefalonia near Sami:

Ancient Sami:
Located about 2 km from Sami, the main port of the island of Kefalonia, surrounded by majestic ancient city walls, on top of the hill, stands the ancient Acropolis of Same.
At the end of a narrow road starting from the port stands out the modern chapel of Agii Phanentes built on the ashes of the ancient walls. Next to the chapel there is a medieval gate leading to a church and, just beyond the outer walls as high as 5 meters, to an ancient watchtower.
A short walk away you will reach the ruins of the medieval church of Agios Nikolaos, now roofless, but whose apse is still as high as it was originally. Here you can see some important frescoes, now faded as a result of the high exposure to the natural elements.
Although the remains of the Acropolis are unfortunately badly preserved and there is not so much to see, the lush vegetation that surrounds these "ruins of history" gives very strong feelings, such as a placid water source located within walking distance from the ruins.

Melissani Cave: located about 3 km from Sami, the Melissani Cave (Melissani Lake), is the place where "the sunshine lights up Hades."
The cave can be visited by rowboats, or walk through a short tunnel leading down to the banks of the lake inside the cave, whose ceiling, partly collapsed after the earthquake of 1953, allows to look outside.
The lake size is 60X40 meters and reaches a depth of 13 meters with a temperature of 10° C.
The different limestone formations of the cave hide the place where an ancient sanctuary dedicated to the god Pan was built (god of herds - whose remains can be found in the Museum of Argostoli), and in which the faithfuls used to meet by climbing down from the hole in the ceiling of the cave.
It has been recently demonstrated, thanks to some Austrian geologists, how the lake is connected underground with the water mills of Argostoli. In fact, geologists, by coloring the water dispersed in the carsic holes near Argostoli, noticed that the colored water surfaced again in the Melissani lake after few days.

Drogarati Cave: It was discovered about 300 years ago, after a strong earthquake that caused the collapse of part of the cave, bringing light to the entrance. Currently the cave has an average temperature of about 18° C and a depth of 60 meters with a humidity of 90%.
Cavers and researchers were able to date the cave at about 100 million years ago and that it is much larger than the current size, as it's connected to other caves in the area through underground tunnels that are currently inaccessible.
In this cave you can find a lot of stalactites and stalagmites, also, in the great hall of the cave (about 900 square meters), the "Hall of the Apotheosis", are regularly organized nice musical events every year, thanks to the excellent acoustics.

Tours and excursions in Kefalonia near Kastro and Peratata:

Monastery of Agios Gerassimos: the Monastery is a nunnery situated at the edge of the plateau of Omalon, 400 meters above the sea level.
The Monastery, preserving the remains of Agios Gerasimos, the patron saint of Kefalonia, is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations of the Ionian Islands.
The Monastery of Agios Gerasimos was originally founded in a small cave by the Saint himself in the middle of the sixteenth century. Inside the ancient church lie the remains of the saint, well-kept in a silver casket which is periodically opened by the priest of the church to allow pilgrims to address their prayers directly to the Saint and to kiss the relics.
The church contains some ceiling murals depicting scenes from the Old Testament: The Baptism and The Birth of Christ, the Annunciation and The Ascension of Jesus Christ, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, Christ's descent into hell and the miracle of Pentecost.
Much more important is the fresco of the death of St. Gerasimos depicted with Christ near the deathbed who's holding into his arms the soul of the deceased, symbolized by a child in swaddling clothes.
Close to the Old Monastery, in the '80s, thanks to the donations of the faithfuls, it was built one of the largest and magnificent churces of the island, where the imposing bishop's throne was made ​​entirely of marble, and where the surfaces of ceiling and walls are decorated with important paintings created in the traditional Byzantine style.

Fortress of Agios Georgios: Built at an altitude of 300 meters above the village of Peratata, at 5 km from Argostoli, the castle has been the capital of the island until 1757. When Argostoli was appointed as capital of Kefalonia (in 1757), this huge fortress was turned into an important seat of the Venetian administration.
This is an ancient Byzantine castle probably built by the emperors in the XII century AD.
Long crenellated Venetian walls, bridges, buildings, churches, wells and tanks everywhere, give majesty to the building and represent, especially with the awakening of nature in spring, a fascinating subject to photograph.

Monastery of Agios Andreas: It was founded in 1579, today a nunnery, the Monastery of St. Andrew is one of the most important pilgrimage sites on the island, as it houses an important relic: the foot of the Apostle Andrew.
Part of the museum of the monastery, visited by faithfuls and tourists, is the ancient monastery church which dates back to 1600 and preserves many icons and frescoes from other churches of Kefalonia, and some original frescoes painted when the church was built.
The icons museum opened in 2002, and it is one of the most important and beautiful museums of Greece. The museum is divided into two floors, exhibiting wood carvings and icons, and even entire iconostasis.

Mycenaean tombs of Mazarakata: This is an area sadly abandoned and freely accessible through openings in the paddocks. Here you can observe numerous burial chambers carved into the rock that are accessed via "dromos", that were typical during the Mycenaean period (1600-1200 BC): 8-meter long and 1-meter wide corridors, going down to the grave.

Tours and excursions in Kefalonia near Poros:

Monastery of Theotokou Atrou: It is the oldest monastery of the island dating back to 1264 (the first year in which it was mentioned).
It's situated just north of Poros in a remote area at 500 meters above the sea level. The blind road leading to the monastery starts at the exit of the gorge from the road to Sami.
The courtyard of the monastery is freely accessible and you can see a 10-meter high tower, demonstrating the past fortifications of the monastery.

Mycenaean tomb of Tzanata: Between Poros and Sami, this best preserved Mycenaean tomb of the Ionian Islands dates back to 1350 BC It's the same type of the tombs found in Mycenae, just more simple and small. The burial chamber under the hill is well preserved and can be visited.

Assos Castle: The castle is freely accessible during the day and can be reached by car along a road through the woods at about 2km from Assos.
The interior of the castle is unfortunately abandoned and untidy, while on its highest point there are the ruins of the citadel. In the rest of the ruins you can notice the remains of a prison used until 1953, several houses and a chapel dedicated to St. Mark.
From the fortress you can enjoy a wonderful view of the harbour of Assos and the coastline of Erissos peninsula.

Other places to visit in Cefalonia:

Mount Enos: Between Sami and Argostoli there is a well-marked route that leads to the highest peak of the island: Oros Enos (1627 meters).
The road leading to the mountain is winding and dirty, it passes the chapel of Agios Eleftherios and reaches the edge of the National Park of Mount Enos, through forests of black firs, up to the top of the mount called "Megas Soros".

The Norman ruins of Fiskardo: Besides the beauty of the village of Fiskardo in the north of the island, that attracts also many sailors, and a special mention is for the Norman ruins that are located at the tip of the peninsula.
In a wild area there are the remains of a church, probably built in the eleventh century to house the tomb of Guiscard (the Norman leader who gave his name to the village of Fiskardo), and two watch towers with the foundations of a Venetian lighthouse.

Archaeological Museum of Argostoli: The small Museum of Argostoli houses many ancient relics including: Stone Age tools, Mycenaean tombs, Roman skulls and coins, a Roman mosaic floor belonged to an ancient Roman villa.
In the last of the three rooms of the museum there are the remains of a Hellenistic shrine dedicated to Pan, god of herds, and originally located in the cave of Melissani.
Here we also find a statue of the god Pan, recognizable by its grotesque representation (goat feet, beard and horns, and holding a cup for wine).
Of particular beauty is a round terra-cotta relief depicting six women dancing around the horned god who plays the flute.
The museum is located in Odos Rokon Vergoti, Argostoli town (open days Tue-Sun from 08:30am to 03:00pm), entrance ticket 3,00 euros.

Seamills: Just outside Argostoli, along the northern coast, there are two sea water mills (now used as cafe and restaurant).
Inside one of the two mills (in an outbuilding) we can observe the presence of a well preserved and renovated water wheel, while the outdoor wheel is not renovated yet.
Unlike what one might suppose, these two wheels were not operated by a stream flowing into the sea, but, on the contrary, by sea water that was pushed inwards.
In fact, for many years, the sea sneaked in the hinterland through small natural channels, dispersing the water into the ground holes called "sinkholes" (or "kathavothres"). Under British rule, these channels were enlarged and were built wheels, which millstones ran until 1953.

Tours and excursions from Kefalonia to Zante and Ithaca:

Excursions to Zante and Ithaca: From the island of Kefalonia there are daily trips to the nearby islands of Ithaca (the mythical land of Ulysses, surrounded by white sandy beaches) and the lush green Zante, a real natural paradise ... You can sail from the port of Sami and from the village of Skala to Ithaca, while from Skala and Poros to Zante.
On the way to the islands, in an authentic crystal clear sea, the delight is to discover hidden beaches, to visit picturesque harbors and bays inaccessible to cars and big ships.
The island of Ithaca, rather small, can easily be visited in a day, while Zante, much larger, is definitely worth a longer stay.

The Monastery of Agios Gerassiomos
Agios Gerassimos
Ancient Sami
Ancient Sami
Drogarati Cave
Drogarati Cave
The Monastery of Agios Andreas in Peratata
Monastery of Agios Andreas - Peratata
The watchtower of Agios Georgios Fortress
The watchtower of Agios Georgios Fortress
Many relics are preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli
Relics of the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli
The highest massif of Kefalonia: Mount Enos (1627 m)
Mount Enos Kefalonia
Ruins of the Christian basilica near Fiscardo
Ruins of the Christian basilica of Fiscardo
Excursions to the most beautiful beaches on Zante island
Zante beaches
View of Ithaca from Poros
View of Ithaca from Poros
Seamills at Katavothres, near Argostoli
Seamills - Kefalonia

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