Franchthi Cave

FRANCHTHI CAVE - Distance from Ermioni: 20 kms/25 mins                                       Walk along the footpath to the cave: 20 mins

Across from the small traditional fishing village of Kilada lies the prehistoric Franchthi Cave.  Internationally, it is known for its valuable findings, which date back to the Mesolithic period, over 40,000 years ago.  Prof. T.W. Jacobsen from the Archaeological School of Indiana University carried out extensive excavations from 1967 until 1976 and brought to light an entire phase of Greece's prehistoric culture, buried in layers of soil, 4 metres thick.  From this research they found the oldest complete human skeleton in Europe, dating back to 23,000 BC, as well as other evidence, revealing the way prehistoric man lived.  The cave would have been home for up to 30 people, originally hunters, as the sea levels have since risen over 100 metres. The Franchthi Cave seems to have been abandoned around 3,000 BC.

In 2014, international archaeologists finally confirmed that Franchthi is the oldest human dwelling, or settlement, in the whole of Europe. There have been many discoveries made at the Franchthi Cave and most are displayed at the Archaeological Museum of the Peloponnese, in Nafplio. This is a very important historical cave and well worth a visit.  If you are brave enough to climb through to the top of the cave, the panoramic view from there is spectacular.

The marked pathway from the Franchthi beach along a narrow winding coastal footpath, also used by goats and sheep, however, it will give you beautiful views of the picturesque fishing village of Kilada and the privately owned Koronida island.  The cave is still in its natural state, but plans were made to make the cave into a tourist attraction.  What this will mean is not clear, one advantage could be direct access by boat from Kilada.  Quite recently the cave interior had a wooden walkway laid, information boards erected and safety handrails fitted around the deep pits which had been created by previous archaeological excavations, protecting visitors and the site.

As the water level is over 100m higher today than in pre-historic times, the sea would have been up to 7kms away, the Franchthi area is considered a strong candidate for having a submerged Neolithic settlement.  In 2012 a search was launched to find this underwater village.  In collaboration between the University of Geneva and the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, named the 'Bay of Kilada Project', the search team started their exploration.  Just beyond the mouth of Kilada Bay, at Lambayanna Beach, these initial dives revealed very old pottery fragments.  Returning for a more thorough investigation in 2015, the team found the ruins of an Early Bronze Age city, beneath 1m and 3m of water.  This city includes the foundations of buildings, stone paved surfaces of roads and remains of a fortification wall with three large towers.  Such a defensive structure would be the first of its kind to be discovered from the Early Bronze Age period in Greece.  Whilst the team continue to study the discovery at Lambayanna, they are also maintaining their search for a submerged Neolithic settlement directly off the shore of the Mesolithic Franchthi Cave.

If you are driving from Ermioni, the best way to reach the Cave of Franchthi is to head towards the village of Fourni on the main Ermioni to Epidavros road.  Just before the village of Fourni, on your left you will see two big road signs pointing the way to Franchthi.  At the end of this road turn left and you will eventually arrive at the Franchthi beach, Paralia Fourni, where you will have to leave your vehicle, and make your way to the far end of the sandy/shingle beach.  There, near some rocks, you will find the start of a narrow winding coastal pathway, marked with red arrows, showing the way to the Mesolithic cave.  The steady walk along this scenic coastal pathway will take approximately 20 minutes.  

MACEDONIAN WATCHTOWER - near Franchthi

If you turn right at the end of the Franchthi road, follow the road sign and you will arrive at another small shingle beach, around the headland from the beach and Cave of Franchthi.  Turning inland from this beach, you will arrive at a small hill on your left, surrounded by a wire fence, where you can leave your car.  Take the short uphill walk and you will see the foundation stone remains of the Macedonian built Watchtower.  This is still a good vantage point, of the bay of Kilada and the central Peloponnese.

Location

Franchthi Cave
Greece
37° 25' 19.7436" N, 23° 7' 56.334" E
Picture Gallery
Cave of Franchthi - Viewed across the bay from Kilada Cave of Franchthi - The approach along Franchthi beach Cave of Franchthi - The narrow coastal path leading to the cave Cave of Franchthi - The entrance to the Mesolithic Cave Cave of Franchthi - The oldest human skeleton in Europe found here Cave of Franchthi - The rear entrance to the Cave, leading to the summit Franchthi - The nearby Macedonian stone watchtower Franchthi - Hellenistic watchtower close to the Cave of Franchthi Franchthi - Location of the Cave of Franchthi and Watchtower