The cave of Olympoi, one of the most impressive sites in Chios, by Mary Axiotis Featured
(editor’s note: Personal impressions of a Greek American who is visiting Chios every summer for forty years now)
There are a lot of extraordinary places that anyone can visit on the island of Chios. There is one attraction that made quite an impression on us, and that is Olympoi cave.
The village of Olympoi is located in the south part of Chios about 35 kilometers from town between Pyrgi and Mesta. It’s a medieval, quaint village, with tiny cobblestone streets and a charming little church.
Further down from Olympoi village is the Olympoi cave. The entrance to Olympoi cave is not visible from the road. There is a souvenir shop adjacent to the ticket office. The tickets are 5 euros per person and the guided tours to the cave start on the hour every hour. If you have any time, you can browse the souvenir shop that carries quite a variety of traditional Greek souvenirs, like the legendary Greek worry beads or komboloi as they are called in Greek, or Chios key chains.
The Olympoi cave was discovered in the 1980’s. It has opened to the public since 2002, but it has been in existence since the prehistoric era. The cave is still active and forming, with a steady temperature of 18°C (64°F) and 95% humidity. Any outside air affects the climate inside the cave threatening its stability and formations. The lighting inside is orange color from the spotlights that are strategically situated to show the way. When I was inside, I looked up and saw stalactites hanging from the cave’s ceiling. Some looked like a lion’s head, others like a Buddhist monk or a chocolate fountain. The further we walked the cooler and damper the air felt in comparison to the outside air. We walked deeper into the cave, as if we were walking into the bowels of the earth, looking at the formations above us. At one point we stopped and the tour guide informed us that we were about 30 meters (90 feet) below ground. We couldn’t go any deeper than that since the cave was not accommodated for touring any further. The tour guide asked us to climb up a steel winding staircase to take us back up and out of the cave. We left the cave, while the tour guide closed all doors behind us to prevent any outside air entering the cave. We walked on the concrete hallway that took us outside the same way we came in.
We walked out in the open air, where our car was parked. Both my husband and I were at awe. The stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave had left quite an impression on us. We found those magnificent, astonishing formations that nature created amazing. I wish there was more time during the tour to spend inside the cave and look at the formations in more detail. The cave is quite a spectacular sight and well worth seeing it.
Cameras or cell phones to take pictures are allowed inside the cave.
Sunday is the better day to tour Olympoi cave. It’s not crowded since almost everyone is at a beach somewhere.
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