The so-called “Mykonos of the winter season” has for several years been living two separate lives. The one follows the frantic pace of the Athenian weekenders and the other reality turns its back to this cosmic life and nurtures its traditional character with nostalgia and optimism, so that it still today is resisting change.
So, depending on which Arachova you want to get to know, you have to choose the timing with care. Since the creation of the skiing centre at the nearby slopes of Parnassos the winter season is the high season. So, if you fancy skiing and a lively nightlife this could be your choice for Christmas vacations. If you, on the other hand, prefer a more quite (but still not remote) holiday dressed in autumn colours this could be the time for you now.
With a brief look at the history of Arachova we find that in the area there existed two ancient cities. To the west, around the springs of Chtiriarou and near Trouvoulou was the city of Anemoreia, and to the east, near Pania, was Kyparissos or Yampolis. The Cretans had a province here and the Thracians settled down in the area around 3200 years ago bringing with them the worship of Dionysos and the Muses.
At first glance, you understand from what the locals are making their living. Textiles, dairy products, taverns, cafés, hostels and shops renting equipment for skiing, are the vast majority of businesses in Arachova. Many of these businesses are housed in beautiful traditional stone buildings which have been restored and thus saved from the destiny of collapsing like so many other old buildings of less fortunate villages. At all hours of the day Arachova offers great opportunities for walking in its picturesque streets.
The impressive huge cave in the southwest side of Mount Parnassos, Corycian Cave, is of great historical importance. It is also called Sarantavli or the cave of Pan. The entrance of the cave is very low and narrow and hard to see from a distance.
When entering, before us opens a large pit with a height of up to 60 metres and a width of 15 metres. Inside the cave everything is dripping stalactites, forming sculptures mysteriously illuminated by the triangular opening of the cave.
The Corycian Cave was dedicated to the Ancient Greek God Pan and the Nymphs Korikiaii (5th cent. BC). Aeschylus called the cave ‘a place to visit heavenly spirits‘.
During the invasion of the Persians in 480 BC, the people of Delphi fled and seeked shelter here in the cave. And later, during the Revolution of 1821 it was used as a refuge by Ulysses Androutsos. The cave was formed during the Pleistocene era from groundwater, having two rooms, while a narrow corridor deep in the cave goes a long way, unfortunately inaccessible. Investigated and excavated in 1970 by P. Amandry, at which time thousands of objects dating from the Archaic and Classical periods were found. Thousands of statues from the Neolithic Age, earthenware pottery pieces, 25,000 ankles, painted vases 6 c. BC and rings. Many of the findings are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Delphi.
How to get to the Corycian Cave
At the end of the road of the meadow, (coming from Arachova), turn left (at the tavern “ΜΠΑΜΠΗΣ”) and after 600 metres you will find a junction where you turn right. Following a road for another 800 m turn left and ascend 3.5 kilometers to reach a small plateau. A small 50-metre path leads you to the cave, situated at 1400 meters.
The view is fantastic. Visiting the Corycian Cave is a great opportunity for walking or mountain biking, leaving the car further down the road.