The history of Paros dates as far back as 4000 BC. Hence, it boasts a wealth of works and special days in every season on which its culture flourishes. Some are found deep underground, in the caves, caverns and mines that are teeming with myths and history associated with the island, its culture and economy.
Cave of Archilochus
The Cave of Archilochus is the most important cave on Paros and is situated near Agios Fokas beach. It was named after our great lyric poet Archilochus. Legend has it that he took refuge in the isolation provided by the cave to find the inspiration for his poetry.
The site is imposing, particularly when the sea is rough and waves pour into the opening. The cave is just ten minutes away from Parikia and at sunset visitors are treated the the colors of the rainbow as the sun sinks below the horizon and the cave falls into darkness.
Cave of the Nymphs
The Cave of the Nymphs is found at the Ancient Quarries in Marathi (4th km, Parikia-Lefkes road).
The quarries date back to antiquity and marble mining continued without interruption until 1881, bringing wealth, glory and prosperity to the island. Today, the extraction of Parian marble continues at the quarries and other locations on Paros.
The renowned marble of Paros was one of the most sought after materials used in ancient sculptures and Greek architecture. The gallery is 190 meters long and extends deep below the surface of the earth. Of the three entrances to the quarry, the one to the south is of great interest: the Cave of the Nymphs.
The Parian earth is endowed with this precious "body" - white, clean and fine-grained, with a crystalline texture. The most transparent marble in the world. The first Cycladic idols were made of the "paria stone" or "lychnitis" (a name that may come from the clarity of the marble or the oil lamps used to light the galleries). Paros evolved into an important artistic center, with famous sculptors including Agorakritos and Skopas the Parian.
The Acropolis of Athens, the Temple of Apollo on Delos, the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion, the Thissio, the ancient agora of Athens, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Temple of Solomon, the Monastery of Vlacherna in Istanbul and many theaters, stadiums and even palaces in Venice were carved out of Parian marble.
As you descend into the galleries, consider the blood, sweat and tears of the thousands of people who brought the marble used to build so many important structures to the surface with only the light provided by oil lamps. The depths of the island produced Greek sculptures that would become eternal world heritage monuments: Nike of Paionios, Hermes of Praxitelis, Nike of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo and others.
Think of the large museums of the world: the Louvre, The Metropolitan Museum of New York, the British Museum in London, the New Acropolis Museum. Every single large museum on earth has at least one priceless treasure made of Parian marble on prominent display.
The ancient quarry is a monument of industrial archeology.
Descend with care into the lowest section of the main gallery, from which other small galleries branch, and be sure to bring along your flashlight.
The Cave of Amphitrite
The Cave of Antiparos
The cave is impressive and well-maintained. Visitors are thrilled by this splendor of nature from the moment they enter. Looking down at the cave from above and descending the 411 steps gradually, visitors encounter stalagmites and stalactites in every chamber. The cave extends to a depth exceeding 100 meters and overs an area of 5,600 m2. The Cave of Antiparos also boasts the oldest stalagmite in Europe, which is 45 million years old.
Cavern of Panteronisi (near Tigani)
A cave that is different from what visitors imagine. It is 30+ meters underwater, with a 12-meter long wall. Unfortunately only advanced divers are able to access the cave. The rest must make do with the descriptions and videos occasionally posted on line. It is an amazing experience, with a deep dive along the wall leading to the cave. Divers enter the cave through a massive opening. Masks can be removed inside and divers can explore the spectacular cave with impressive, colorful stalactites. They return to the boat in the same way, ascending slowly to the surface.
The Cave of Kalampakis
The Cave of Kalampakis is located in Marpissa, near Agios Georgios Lagadas. Findings show that it was inhabited by humans in prehistoric times. There are stalagmites and stalactites, but exploring is dangerous as the cave is vast, deep and difficult to access. Knowledge of the area and special equipment are required to explore the fabled cave, which is also known as the Cave of the Demons. Legend has it that Agios Arsenios imprisoned the demons possessing the animals of a blasphemous farmer that wreaked havoc in the surrounding area. After capturing them, he confined them in the cave, which he then sealed until the Second Coming.
Agios Yiannis Spiliotis
Agios Yiannes Spiliotis is in Parikia, under Pandroso and Agia Anna. The little church is wedged between the rocks and the wildly beautiful landscape. Villagers cannot see the church, as it isn't visible from either the cliff top or the beach, but only from the open sea. Not at all surprising that the Nymphs were worshiped there in ancient times.