During our stay in an Airbnb in Dionysos, our host family invited us along on several local excursions. Many of these trips were the highlights our time in Greece. One of our favorites was visiting Davelis Cave on Pendeli Mountain, north of Athens. It was was a fantastic trip and we felt very thankful for them to take the time to show us this amazing location. This location would have been very difficult to access without a car and local knowledge.
Davelis Cave is located near the top of Pendeli Mountain. During ancient times, this area was used as a marble quarry and supplied the marble for the building of the Acropolis. Remnants of the ancient paved road can still be seen today, just a short walk from the entrance of the cave. It took us about 25 minutes to drive up the mountain, followed by a 15-minute walk to access the cave.
The cave got its name from a nineteenth-century robber named Davelis, who used the cave as a hideout and to store his loot. The cave is also known as the “Cave of Pan” because it is believed to be an ancient worship site of Pan. Many archeological objects were found in the cave depicting Pan. These objects can be viewed in the Archaeological Museum of Athens.
The cave’s entrance is dominated by an old derelict Orthodox church built directly into the rock. The church is dedicated to two saints, St. Spyridon and St. Nicolas. Today the church is still open and accessible but in general disrepair. However, religious icons and signs of recent worship can still be seen. The church was pretty amazing to explore because it felt so untouched by touristic commercialization. Amid all the spider webs and layers of dust were vivid frescos of religious scenes.
Aside from exploring the church, the cave also had a large chamber that was easy to explore. A short walk into the cave revealed a huge chamber. The cave was damp and slightly musty, but I guess that is to be expected. Apparently there are additional chambers to explore in this cave system. We never found an opening into another chamber, however, we were not equipped to do any serious spelunking. My fear of spiders and lack of a flashlight kept me for poking my head into dark places.
The area around the cave is also a well-known destination for rock climbers. We watched several different groups of rock climbers tackle the cliffs outside the cave. The climbing routes were well established and pre-set with anchors. One of the climbers informed us that the entire park surrounding the cave is a very popular destination for the Athens rock climbing community.
Davelis Cave is also widely known for reported paranormal activity. Reports of electronic devices not functioning properly are common. People have reported strange creatures and orbs of light while inside the cave. Unfortunately (or fortunately…) no paranormal sightings appeared during our visit.