There are many caves on Naxos, but most of them are inaccessible, hidden and quite small. The most famous cave is the one of Mount Zeus, which has been used by the island’s inhabitants for thousands of years and whose archaeological investigation has yielded interesting finds.
On the slope of the Kóronos, the northern mountain range of the island, lies another noteworthy cave, the Kakó Spílaio (“Bad Cave”). In ancient times, Mount Kóronos was dedicated to Dionysus, god of fertility. The mountain was then called Driós, as an ancient inscription proves. The ancient myths mention that Dionysus was raised on Mount Driós by the three nymphs Koronis, Filia and Kleio. Dionysus regarded the island of Naxos as his home and Mount Driós as his residence. In ancient times, Dionysus and his entourage were worshipped in the cave, where clay statuettes of the god Pan and of nymphs were found.
The area of Mount Kóronos is mostly made up of granite, which results in a very different character from Mount Zeus (which is made up of marble). Due to the less penetrable granite bedrock, on Mount Kóronos the rainwater does not disappear into the underground as in the areas with marble, but flows off on the surface, feeding numerous springs and small streams. In addition, in winter as well as in summer, due to the north wind Mount Kóronos is very often shrouded in clouds, so that it is much more humid than Mount Zeus – the right place for a god of fertility! Large oak and chestnut forests are said to have existed on Mount Kóronos until the Middle Ages. These have disappeared today, and now only a low heath grows here, but the area still has a very special charm unique to Naxos.
In the past, large oak forests are said to have grown on humid Mount Kóronos. Today, the top is covered with a special, charming heath. Even today, the place radiates a magic that suggests the presence of the god of fertility Dionysus, to whom the mountain was dedicated in ancient times.
The Kakó Spílaio cave is located in a steep valley northwest of the top of Mount Kóronos; it lies approximately in the middle of this picture.
The cave is situated at the foot of a steep rock face; the entrance is low, so that it is hardly visible from a distance.
the entrance to the cave from the other side
The cave has several adjacent entrances.
Inside lies a large, low chamber filled with the dung of sheep and goats that come into the cave seeking for shade.
From the entrance of the cave inwards lies a peculiar “corridor” where the roof of the cave is carved out like a vault so that the ceiling is high enough to walk upright (seen in the middle of the previous picture).
In southern direction, inside the mountain, one soon arrives at a subdivision; but one can creep through below the “wall” and thus reach another room.