|The sacred caves of Thermi|
“When Dorcon’s funeral was over, Chloe took Daphnis to the Nymphs in the cave and washed him. And then for the first time she let Daphnis see her washing her own body, which beauty had already made white and clean and which needed no washing to make it beautiful. Then after gathering some flowers, all the flowers that were to be found at that time of year, they put garlands on the statues and hung Dorcon’s pipe on the rock as a thank-offering”
From “Daphnis and Chloe”, the sole surviving bucolic novel of ancient Greek origin, written by Longus in mid third century A.D.
Lithograph by Mark Chagall: Daphnis and Chloe in the Nymph's Cave Teriand Gallery Mytilini open 9:00am-2:30pm & 5:00-8:00pm except Monday
Already in the prehistoric times caves are considered as sacred places. The Nymphs (second class Goddesses) were supposed to live here! Satyrs and the God Pan* preferred also to be worshiped in caves. Daphnis and Chloe, the two lovers of the Longos ancient novel, ware living some km northern from Mytilini town, possibly in Thermi, and they meet in caves……
All three known caves in Thermi district are now used as chapels. Greeks, we prefer not walking since we are able to drive our cars, and need very special reasons to climb on the hills. Some people from the nearby villages bring some oil and candles, but mostly only once a year people visit the caves: at the feast day of the chapel – the name day of the Saint.
There is also a fourth cave at the coast. To enter in this seaside cave
you do not need to dive… just to swim in it!
The local’s call is Agios Thimianos (in Lesvian dialect!) (from the asphalt road: 40' up, + 40' more to reach the main village Mystegna + 20' for the Skala ). This is the only cave from the three that you don’t need to come back the same way, but you can also continue walking and combine with a visit to the village of Mystegna and Skala Mystegnon where you can find a nice beach and good seaside tavernas.
Agios Philippos. St Philip (from the asphalt road: 60' up, 40' down).
From Votsala +30' up, +20' down
This is the nearest cave and you can also do it without needing a lift with a car. You can also use the bus to St. Raphael and stop at the cross Pigi - St. Raphael in order to avoid walking up the first 2km from Votsala. You walk direction Pigi till you see on your right the Football terrain. Just opposite the Football terrain, a track road goes up… ask for a print of the walk at the reception.
Agios Iohannes. St John
(from the asphalt road: 60' up, 40' down).
The path to this cave starts at about 7km from Votsala and you need a lift with a car. You can also ride a bike or use the bus to Pigi (twice per day) and ask the driver to drop you at the bridge with the miniature chapel of Agios Iohannes!
Agios Giann’s Katafigis (in Lesvian dialect!) … ask for a print of the walk at the reception.