Change Language:
Caverns
Petralona Cave
broken clouds
14°C
Humidity: 87%
Clouds: 55%

Petralona cave is located in the western foothills of Katsikas mountain at an altitude of 250 meters. The cave is also known by the name "Kokkines Petres" (Red rocks).

 

History

The cave was discovered in the early 1960's when a local shepherd heard a roar of water from a slit at the foot of the mountain. The news roused the villagers and two of them attempted  to enter the cave.

In 1959 the Institute for Geology and Subsurface Research assigned Giannis and Anna  Petrocheilos to explore and study the cave.

 

Petralona skull

The cave of Petralona is a geological monument of great paleontological value because of the skull belonging to archaic Homo sapiens that was found in the cave. The localization of the human skull fled of the first exploration  and it was discovered 11 months by a new exploration team. Specifically, the skull was discovered between 14 and 16 September 1960.

The skull is preserved in good condition with the exception of the greater part of the right zygomatic arch, the cutters, the right premolar and mandible that are  missing. According to reports of the time, along with the skull, human bones were also found. The skull was glued to a stalactite that hung on the side of a cliff and it was covered with a layer of calcite. The scientific community is divided on the age of the skull, with the majority opinion to support that it is 400000-350000 years old.

Finally, detailed investigations of the cave in the next decades led to the discovery of fossilized bones of various animals such as large mammals, amphibians, reptiles, etc.

 

Morphology of the cave

Petralona cave was formed into limestone following a general North-South direction. It is a horizontal cave 1.800 meters long with impressive rocky decoration. The area amounts to 10,400 sq.m. and it is consisted with tall chambers decorated with various forms of stalactites, stalagmites, columns, ponds, steep incline, etc.

The cave is separated in 6 chambers connected by galleries and narrow tunnels. The first chamber named as  "Big Room" is hosting piles, ponds and basins. The next one is called "Chamber of Fir" where the visitor can observe the biggest stalactites in the cave formed in the characteristic shape of a fir tree. In the "Chamber of Harmony" that follows next, the stalactites have tubular form and touch the floor. On the opposite, the "Chamber of Dwarfs" hosts tiny stalagmites. The "Chamber of White Coral" is the most impressive part of the cave  where the walls are covered with white coral replicas. Finally, the "Chamber Root" is characterized by the roots of the trees hanging on the ceiling.

Next to the cave stands the Anthropological Museum, operated by the Anthropological Association of Greece. The same association is responsible for the management of the Petralona cave.