Cave of Agios Ioánnis - Agia Paraskeví -
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 *.
The actual walking time from the caves to the capital of the island is about
[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 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...
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 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 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
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".
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
(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)