Cave of Lion

Cave of Lion

Cave of Lion is situated on the eastern slope of Mount Ymittos, at 550 m elevation and 500 m northeast from Karakovouni peak. The cave is located on route of trail number 10, a mild narrow path marked by red dots painted on the rocks.

The trailhead starts behind the Monastery of Agios Ioannis Kynigos which can be reached from Agios Ioannis Square in the suburb of Agia Paraskevi, 9 km northeast of Athens city center. According to local legend the cave owes its name to a lion that had its nest there and terrorized the whole area. The cave consists of one large chamber of 6 - 10 m height, 50 m depth and 20 m width. It has 2 big stalagmites and one stalactite formation which looks like an umbrella.

Archaeological excavations conducted by the Department of History and Archaeology of the University of Athens and the Ephorate of Palaeoanthropology-Speleology brought to light lion, bear and wolf bones dating back to the prehistoric years, and further finds from the 4th and 5th millennium BC.

Several figurines of the classical era indicate that the cave was then used as a sanctuary, most possibly devoted to Pan and the Nymphs. The material is very fragmentary and also includes some metal tools and coins. The main use of the cave is dated to the Neolithic period with finds including bone tools and sea shells.

In modern years the cave was used as an animal stable and generally as a refuge for shepherds and flocks looking for shelter water and shade.