The Dragon's Cave
The existence of the cave seems to have been unknown until recent years. There has been found no reference of the cave in the written testimonies of the era of the Ottoman rule, nor in any older historical testimonies. It is believed that the entrance of the cave was not visible in the past due to illuviations, but also due to the fact that the lakeside route was then hard to reach and access could be made possible only by the lake.Local amateur explorers, people with environmental sensibilities in the 1940s -time when the lakeside road was constructed by general Souggaridis- were the first ones to discover and describe the incomparable beauty of the cave and also the first ones who came up with the idea for its exploitation. The myth regarding the “Dragon” of the cave, after which the cave was named, was also recorded during the same period.
Kastoria owes a great deal to our fellow citizens Nikos Pistikos, Kostas Frassias, Anastassios Mpassakyros, Th. Morfidis and many others, as well as later, in 1954, to the swedish explorer Linberg, who all wandered in the cave and informed the local society about the incomparable beauty of the stalactite decoration inside it. In 1963, Scouts from Kastoria, in collaboration with the Hellenic Speleological Company, gave us the first draft mapping and the first photographs of the cave’s interior part, while at a later time the cave was recorded in the official annual bulletin of the Greek Speleological Company. The first serious attempt to collect more data and train new speleologists was performed, in 1963, by Johnny Zerboydakis and the Hellenic Speleological Society.
Various paleontological remains have been found inside the cave of the Dragon, the majority of which, though, are cave bear bones (Ursus Speleaus). This species lived in Europe during the Pleistocene epoch and became extinct about 10,000 years ago
According to the myth which its name associated, many centuries ago the big cave located near the monastery of Mavriotissa used to be a goldmine guarded by a dragon that spewed fire and poisonous fumes.After the founding of Kastoria (8th or 9th century), the first king of the city, Kastor, seeking to entertain his brother and guest Polydeuces and his father in law, priest Keli, revealed the huge cave. However, the presence of a dragon prevented him from approaching the cave. The king then promised great gifts to the one who would kill the dragon. A strong young man then appeared. The fight with the dragon was great and fierce. The rocks around trembled and the lake waters fretted as the young man struck the dragon with his spear. The monster was killed and floated dead upon the waters of the lake. People then celebrated and thanked god Panas. Later on, they walked further into the cave bearing lighted torches and holding their heads down as to avoid bumping on the stalactites. The cave seemed to go on and on for miles and the atmosphere started getting stuffy due to the lack of oxygen. In a place where the tunnel narrows the torches went out and thick darkness embraced them all. Then they heard an eerie voice saying: ‘He who dares to grab a handful of mud from beneath his feet will regret it’ The boldest ones bended on their knees, grabbed the mud and filled their pockets. The ones who were afraid did not dare to do so. When they all came out in the sunlight they realized, to their surprise, that it wasn’t mud they held in their hands but wet gold dust.