Author of the article: Bratislav Najdanović
Dragon's cave in Panagia (Drakotrypa–Δρακότρυπα).
Before every trip, we like to prepare well and study as much informations as we can. We searched on the internet informations containing the word Thassos and ran into this. Very interesting, we haven't seen this anywhere and all the websites marked this as a MUST SEE.
Panagia is a traditional village with rich history and plenty on unknown fact. This is one of the richest and most important villages on the island. It is built around 300 years ago. During the byzantine period, this place was called "Anastasion". It is unknown how it got today's name. Soon after the revolution 1821., it becomes the capital of the island. The geographic location of the village, narrow pass between the mountains, is what it makes it invisible from the point of open sea. The houses are with covered balconies (sachnisi). The church in the village is big and was built from ancient stones. Both names of the village and the excitement of 11 churches point to strong religious beliefs of the inhabitants. We can see the church of St. Athanasis - built in 1818., the church of St. Constantine and Eleni, St. Charalambos - built 1820., St. John the Apostle - built in 1285., St. Panteleimon, St.George - built in 1835. and the church of Panagia. Unfortunately, the exact date of the building of the church is unknown, but judging by the fact that the village got its name from it, it should be before 1821. (the year of the Greek revolution). The church was consecrated by Metropolitan Anthimos. In the 18th century, the inhabitants of the ancient city of Thassos were forced, because of the pirate attacks to flee towards the center of the island and settle in Panagia till 1770. when the Russian fleet appeared. That is why the number of inhabitants increased and the need for a bigger church emerged. The work began 1831. under the supervision of craftsman from Kastoria who knew church architecture. Construction works began with the financial help of Sotirios Avgoustis Avgerinos and Konsantinos whose gravestone is next to the church, but since there was not enough money to finish the magnificent temple, they asked for help from the Holy Mountain. The monastery who helped was Vatopedi, one of the richest. The church was built without a roof. In 1881. new iconostasis by the craftsman from Volos was finished. Thanks to the workers from Kastoria, the church was given many characteristics that look similar to the ones from the church in Kastoria. The dome is raised and octagonal. The niche of the altar is an octagonal semi-circle. Its longitude reaches 27,50 meter, latitude 18.60 while the altitude reaches 18 meters. The walls were built from marble from the quarry in Panagia. Worthy attention is the fact that the walls from marble are from the ruins of the antic temples from Thassos.
The village has enough water and big platanus' in the center. Sea view is magnificent.
The cave Drakotrypa is located east from Panagia - on the mountain reach. Small excavation test made in 1972. outside the cave, confirms us the use of the very cave in an early bronze age, but in the byzantine period. Pottery from the achaean period and from the time of Mycenae, Corinth and hellenic, roman and byzantine time is found.
It is a cave with stalactites and stalagmites but it is not explored very well in all of its size. It got its name by the stalactites that form the structure of a dragon.
In the Drakotrypa cave in Panagia, lives a big bat - hen house. I am not sure whether Drakotrypa and Drakospilia are the same cave but it is pretty clear that the Panagia caves are very much important for the island's nature (Drakotrypa is known for its endemic species of invertebrates - small snails) and they should have some protection from the local authorities.
And this is where our adventure begins. We are in the centre of Panagia (from our right: restaurant "Platanes", in front of us school yard). After the tour and taking photos, we stopped by a local olive oil shop to buy some cold olive oil. Kind young Bulgarian served us but he doesn't know anything about the cave and said wait for the boss. So it was, the boss arrived and drew us some kind of map. He said that maybe it is a little bit late to go there and that it doesn't have any light and paved way. But, we are Serbs. We started going towards the center, ran into Eleni, the owner of the restaurant and ask her for a few more informations. She said that she remembers going there when she was 7 years old, that there was only spiders and bats. But the foreigners keep asking for the cave for 20 years. She took the oil to keep it for us and said whe will wait until we arrive. We go downhill. Behind the school yard, little bit to the right, then downhill...On the left side, we ran into a water spring (we drank some cold mountain water), and on the right side, we take a picture of the beautiful Golden Beach and arrive at the nice orange-white house with nicely decorated flowers. Be aware of the dogs on the right side of the road (they are tied but can climb and reach the road), stick to the left side. We go further downhill, following the road, take a right turn and in the bottom of the alley arrive at a house (from where the road goes left) and where on the post you can see the only mark for the road to the cave. We take a right turn, right next to the fence and follow , so called, paved way. After a 10 minutes, we reached the end of the road and just when you think it's over, take a turn to the right. Little uphill, about 10 m and take a look on your left. There's the entrance to the cave. But unfortunately, we didn't take our flashlight. But we thought that we can take photos with the flash we had end so, I took 2-3 steps and did that.
We recommend to everyone to bring their flash light and not to go in slippers and shorts. The cave is 15 minutes away by foot. We hope (if you are even little adventurous type of person) that you can continue this story. We will surely go back (this time with a flash light).
Upon arriving back, Eleni welcomed us with cold water from Panagia and hospitality that you can only live in Greece. We didn't know what she made better (lamb or kokoretsi), everything so tasty, nice and affordable. We recommend! This is just a part of the story, it will be continued. Some other summer we will go to another underground world on Thassos. Meanwhile, take a look at our video....