Cave of Agios Ioánnis - Agia Paraskeví - Antíparos

Evaluation: The most interesting attraction on the island of Antíparos is the caves, the Spílio Agíou Ioánnou. Departing from these caves there used to be a nice hiking trail to the north. Quite a while ago, though, the trail was destroyed by the construction of a gravel road and only recently this road has been completely asphalted. We did make this hike after all, since the hilly interior of the island is very pleasant. The caves deserve an evaluation of ***, but the hike itself only *.

Estimated time: The actual walking time from the caves to the capital of the island is about 1h40.

Route description: [Quite regularly there are busses from the town of Antíparos to the south of the island, via the caves. Also when you stay in the south of the island, for instance in Agios Geórgios, it will be very easy to find transport to the caves...]

The caves themselves are situated on a hill top of about 250m high. Next to the entrance of the caves you find the small church of Agios Ioánnis. In the entrance of the caves there is an enormous stalagmite – this stalagmite is 45 million years old, which makes it the oldest one in Europe...

The enormous stalagmite in the entrance of the cave.

The caves contain 3 halls and by means of 342 steps you descend more than 100m deep. The caves are famous because of the large stalactites and stalagmites, sometimes in the shape of curtains or water falls; many of them also present ancient inscriptions. Unfortunately, a lot of the stalactites were sawn off under the Russian occupation of the Cyclades (1770 - 1774); they are now to be found in the Hermitage museum in Saint-Petersburg...  

A general view in the cave.

The inscription remembering the visit of king Othon on the 27th of September 1840.

An amusing inscription of a proud nobleman reads: "Hélène Täscher, incomparable femme, trésor du marquis de Chambert, à Paris 1776" - "Hélène Täscher, unequalled lady, treasure of the marquis of Chambert, Paris 1776".

The inscription of the marquis of Chambert.

The most famous stalagmite is 8 metres tall and it is called the "Agia Trápeza" ("Holy Table"). It is located in the most distant part of the caves, in the left-hand corner of the deepest hall. Large stalactites, with black inscriptions, are hanging above this stalagmite.

The stalactites next to the Agia Trápeza.

The Agia Trápeza.

The stalagmite is called the "Holy Table" because an important event took place here on the 24th of December 1673. On that day a midnight mass was celebrated, in the presence of the French ambassador of Constantinople, the marquis de Nointel – a Latin inscription testifies to this event. The ambassador was brought to the caves with a retinue of 500 people (!); the ship that brought them belonged to a certain Daniel, a famous pirate, and the ambassador stayed in the caves for three days.
The Latin inscription commemorating this midnight mass reads: "Hic ipse Christus / adfuit Eius natali / die media nocte  / celebrato / MDCLXXIII" or "Over here Christ himself was present, when his birthday was celebrated at midnight, 1673".

The Latin inscription on the Agia Trápeza.

(0h00) In order to start with this hike through the island you should try to find a vague trail going up the slope, on the left of the entrance to the caves – there is also a red dot. After a couple of minutes you reach the crest of the hill, most likely you are now standing above the caves. You descend towards the left, in the direction of the telephone poles. You then follow a vague path; at first it runs on the left-hand side of those poles and then on the right-hand side. By following a vague track you easily get to the following crest, from where you have a great panoramic view on the entire island, and also on the strait with Páros and the towns of Antíparos and Poúnda.

(0h08) You now follow the obvious trail leading towards a couple of houses and after some 2-3 minutes you arrive at a gravel road between walls – over here you take a left.

(0h10) After a short while you get to the central road of the island, which used to be a track or even a monopáti. Unfortunately, the road was asphalted very recently – one really wonders why…

(0h12) You take a right and out of sheer necessity you follow a few curves of this road, with a nice view on the coast of Páros indeed. After about half an hour walking on the asphalt you reach a chapel with a blue roof.

(0h42) You continue for 2 minutes and you take a left at a crossing (there is a signpost to Monastíria); after 5 more minutes you get to another crossing where you go right. You go up for the following 10 minutes, until you reach another pass, with yet another chapel with a blue, vaulted roof: the chapel of Agia Paraskeví. Again, you have a nice view on the island of Páros and the strait. On the next crest you can already distinguish a chapel with a flat roof, the roof of the Profítis Ilías.

(0h59) You keep going on the asphalt road for another 1,5 minutes and at last you take a small gravel road off the right. You go down for about 2-3 minutes until you arrive at the gate of a house; the gravel road then becomes a real trail, which continues on the right. After 5-6 minutes you reach the chapel of the Profítis Ilías – where you get to the asphalt road again.

(1h09) You follow the road for some 4 minutes, until you find a small gravel road on the right – not in the curve, but a little further. This road runs straight to Antíparos, more or less parallel to the main road.  


Panoramic view on the little town of Antíparos.

(1h23) About 10 minutes later you return to the asphalt road for a short while, where you do not take a right (in the direction of limáni/port) but where you go straight ahead (kéntro), past the cemetery.

(1h29) After 6 more minutes you get to the more picturesque part of the town. You now follow the paved street for 10-11 minutes until you reach the harbour. In the curve (café Smile) you follow the main street off the right and further on you keep to the right at the farmakío (pharmacy). By walking through a busier shopping street you finally arrive at the outdoor terraces in the harbour. Slightly to the right you notice the landing stage of the ferry to Poúnda. (1h39)

The little harbour of Antíparos.

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