Once upon a time a young shepherd girl called Melissanthi fell into the lake whilst looking for one of her lost sheep . . . from that day on the lake took her name - The lake of Melissani.

In ancient times it is said that the Nymph Melissanthi killed herself in this same lake because the Greek god Pan would not returned her love. (Pan is the Greek god of woods and fields, of flocks and shepherds).

The cave at Melissani is actually a partially covered subterranean lake formed during the ice age. The intense tectonic plate activity that took place in the centuries of its geological formation, created the perfect conditions for surface water and seawater to erode the karstified (limestone) centre of the island. This created cavities that expanded over the centuries creating this unique cave system connected by the subterranean water flow that is not known anywhere else on earth.

The water here, some of which has travelled underground from Katavothres, the other side of Kefelonia, empty into a lake at Karavomilos, and then into the sea around Sami, a journey taking two weeks. Out of curiosity I have tasted the water here and it is definitely less salty than the normal seawater.

Melissani was discovered after the 1953 earthquake caused the roof to collapse opening the lake to the skies. Shepherds of Kefelonia have long known about this subterranean lake, although it was only in 1963 that it was first opened to visitors.

Sunrays cause the surface of the lake to take on many various breathtaking shades of blue. When the sun is directly overhead, its ray's strike the ultramarine water, shattering into a myriad of unbelievable colours.

The water is ice-cold 15 degrees centigrade all year long with only eels living in its 36 metre depths. It is 150 metres long and 25 metres wide.

Many archaeological treasures have been found during excavations in the area of Melissani dating from the 4th to the early 3rd century BC, including a Clay idol of the god Pan, and a clay disk with a Nymph figure in relief (perhaps the nymph Melissanthi).

Whatever your beliefs, the atmosphere and colours on the surface of the water of this beautiful lake are truly magical!




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