October 2, 2014

The Stunning Melissani Cave and Lake in Cephalonia

Melissani Cave and Lake overview

Melissani Cave* is a unique subterranean cave structure with a Lake 39 m deep which was re-discovered  in 1951 and opened to the public in 1963.
Approximately 5000 years ago part of the cave roof fell creating an aperture which allows the sun light to create exquisite green-blue colors on the water.

As it has been the site for several excavations which have brought to light numerous artifacts dating back to the 3rd and 4th centuries BC attesting to the cult of the god Pan.
A number of female figures found testified that at those times Melissani was the Cave of the nymphs.
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, 
Focal Length: 17mm (27.2mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/125 sec, Aperture: 8.0

Entrance to the Cave is achieved through a steeply inclined tunnel where visitors have to wait in queue until their turn comes to embark the row boats for a tour.

Melissani Cave entrance tunnel
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 80mm (128mm)
ISO: 1250, Exposure: 1/50 sec, Aperture: 5.6
Flash: Yes
Melissani Cave entrance tunnel end
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 80mm (128mm)
ISO: 200, Exposure: 1/50 sec, Aperture: 5.6
Flash: Yes
The lake water is brackish gushing from the bottom of the lake on one side maintaining quite a lower temperature than the surface. This is also felt the deeper you descend into the tunnel.
Melissani Cave entrance tunnel end II
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 80mm (128mm)
ISO: 1250, Exposure: 1/50 sec, Aperture: 5.6
The Cave is 160m long by 40m wide with subterranean channels communicating with the nearby Karavomilos village where the lake waters flow out to the surface.
Melissani Cave open chamber I
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 17mm (27.2mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/13 sec, Aperture: 5.6
Melissani Cave open chamber w/ tour boats
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 17mm (27.2mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/100 sec, Aperture: 5.6
Melissani Cave open chamber and entrance to closed chamber
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 17mm (27.2mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/100 sec, Aperture: 5.6
The opening of the cave is surrounded by forest...
Melissani Cave open chamber aperture I
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 17mm (27.2mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/1600 sec, Aperture: 5.6
Melissani Cave open chamber aperture surrunding forest
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 28mm (44.8mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/2000 sec, Aperture: 5.6



A 30m long island exist in the covered section, leaving a very narrow waterway between the island and the cave walls.
Melissani Cave closed chamber entrance
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 17mm (27.2mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/50 sec, Aperture: 5.6
Whereas the boats can be driven only by a cable on the wall
Melissani Cave closed chamber narrow waterway
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 17mm (27.2mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/13 sec, Aperture: 8.0
However, some shapes on the cave walls do not seem so physically created, but rather man made.
Melissani Cave wall carvings
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 28mm (44.8mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/25 sec, Aperture: 5.6
The small island in the covered section is part of the roof that had fallen thousands of years ago, where now pigeons and other birds are nesting.
Melissani Cave closed chamber island residents
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 17mm (27.2mm)
ISO: 3200, Exposure: 1/3 sec, Aperture: 5.6
The stalactites and stalagmites in the covered section of the Cave are dated from 16,000 to 20,000 years ago. Quite surprisingly, some of the stalactites resemble dolphins, the companions and messengers of the nymphs, as the myth has it.
Melissani Cave closed chamber stalactites and staagmites
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 28mm (44.8mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/125 sec, Aperture: 8.0
Melissani Cave closed chamber roof carvings
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 22mm (35.2mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/20 sec, Aperture: 8.0
During the noon when the sun rays come direct on the Lake waters the view is spectacular.
Melissani Cave view of the open chamber from the closed chamber
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 17mm (27.2mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/200 sec, Aperture: 5.6
Melissani Cave view of the open chamber I
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 17mm (27.2mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/250 sec, Aperture: 8.0
Melissani Cave view of the open chamber II
Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 17-85 IS USM, Focal Length: 17mm (27.2mm)
ISO: 800, Exposure: 1/60 sec, Aperture: 8.0
The name Melissani is attributed to the nymph Melissanthi who according to the legend committed suicide in her grief for her love to god Pan was not reciprocated.

* Melissani, is located at Karavomylos, 2 km from the town of Sami on Chefalonia Island.
Cephalonia or Kefalonia, formerly also known as Kefallinia or Kephallenia, is the largest of the Islands in the Ionian Sea in Western Greece.


All Photos were shot in RAW and post processed in Canon's DPP (Digital Photo Professional) and/or DxO Optics Pro 9.
Thank you for viewing. © 2014 S.C.Vlachos

Relevant Articles:
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Diving into the Turquoise Waters at Myrtos Beach, Cephalonia
Green Blue Sea Waters Against White Cloud Formations

Reference Articles:
Canon EF-S 17-85 mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM Lens Reference

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