The cave of Za

Its name is associated with the myth that was saved by the ancient Naxian historian Aglaosthenis. According to the myth, in this cave was raised the Father of Gods Dias (Zeus), after his departure from Idaion Andron (the Idaean Cave), of Crete where he had been born, in order to escape from the murderous hands of his father Cronos (Cronus). More about the myth are found in the reference “climbing to the summit of Za” of the present paper.
At this cave he remained until it was considered, by him together with his mother Rea, that the time was right to claim the throne of the Gods.
The challenge of the parental throne started, according to Gugit, during the sacrifice that took place on the peak of the mountain, when an eagle that carried the bolt flew over, and Dias grabbed the bolt from him and threw it against the Titans. This is how the quest of Dias for the removal of power from his father Cronos started.
The cave is located at the western bottom of mountain Za, at an altitude of 628 meters, and the visitor can reach it following the path after the “Fountain of Arion” and at a distance of about 600 meters. So, one must follow a completely different route from the one that leads to the peak of the mountain.
The path at some points becomes hard for small children but also for the elderly.
The duration of the walk is about 35 minutes.
The cave does not have some special decorative elements of stalactites or stalagmites, but it is compensating for someone to take the walk.
The total area of the cave, which comprises two chambers, is 4,100 m2, with a length –in a straight line—115 meters.
The natural entrance of the cave, with a width of about 10 meters and a height of 2.5, has been built, leaving an opening with a door that is never closed.
The cave was mapped in 1992 by Anna Petrocheilou and Michalis Barthanis (there is a relevant file in the archive of the Greek Speleological Society, as well as a relevant article in the Society’s Journal).
The main chamber is divided into two parts by massive stones that have fallen from the roof.
The first part is 42 meters long, 17 m. wide and 3-5 m. high.
The second part is 64 m. long and 75 m. wide, while, in the center of this chamber, the height reaches 15 meters.
In the middle of the right side there is a small passage into a corridor that leads to a small chamber. According to tradition, this chamber was used as a church (“Life-Giving Spring”). Traveler Licht calls this place “Bethlehem”. Petrocheilou thinks that this chamber was a natural water reservoir, the signs of which are evident.
The manager of this site had been a member of the Speleological Society and was lucky to apprentice at the side of Anna Petrocheilou, thus he was aware of the existence of the file and of the journal issue of the publication of the article.
Greece owes a lot to the Petrocheilou couple, because these are the people who explored systematically and showcased all the known caves of Dyros, Petralonon in Chalkidiki, Alistratis in Serres, Peramatos in Ioannina, etc.
Naxos owes to Michali Barthani the mapping of about 200 of its caves, and he is the one who brought Anna Petrocheilou to Naxos in order to map the Cave of Za.
The experienced Petrocheilou was led to the conclusion, which cannot be questioned easily, that the interesting characteristic about the Cave of Za is the myth that surrounds it, and not its speleological value.