Melissani Lake

The Melissani Lake is in fact an underground lake or a cave-lagoon.

It is located on the eastern side of Kefalonia, just next to the town of Sami. Despite the fact that it has been known about for generations, it was only investigated for the first time by the speleologist Petrocheilos in 1951. During this investigation traces of human occupation were found on the little island in the cave. This discovery encouraged further investigation in 1963 by the archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos. Excavation of the island created at the east side of the cave by the collapse of part of the roof yielded objects dating from the late 4th and early 3rd century BC; they included a rectangular terracotta slab depicting Pan and three Nymphs, a terracotta disk, a terracotta figurine of Pan, a rectangular plaque with a female figure that has been identified with the Nymph Melissanthi, and other finds now on display in the Archaeological Museum at Argostoli.

According to local tradition, the name of the cave probably derives from the swarms of wild bees that are said by locals to have lived in the cave.

The Melissani lake lagoon is over 150 meters long. Part of its roof has collapsed, allowing sunshine into the interior. This lights up the water and creates wonderful images, both for those who gaze down from on high, standing on the bushy edge of the cliff, where a balcony protected by a railing has been erected, or for those inside the cave.

The cave was developed for tourism in 1963, when a tunnel leading down to the lake was opened. Today visitors travel in boats to see the uncovered area of the lake, after which they circumvent the little island with its wild figs and continue inside the roofed section. The walls of the cave are covered with stalactites and there are many springs beneath the surface of the water on the northwest side of the cave.