The cave of Petralona was discovered in 1959 by inhabitants of the Petralona village. Many animal bones fossils were found inside the cave but its major finding is the human skull which was found in 1960. Actually, it's the most ancient human corpse that was found in Greece until today. This skull belongs to the species Homo Heidelbergensis and it's very important for the research of the evolution of the human species as well as for its presence in Europe.
The Cave of Petralona is situated at the west foot of the mount Katsika. It is formed in the lime stones of Upper Jurassic, with the size of about 10.000 m2, with big rooms full of colorful stalagmites.
The first entrance of the cave has been sealed for technical reasons. It was a circular opening in the roof of a big room, which had been used by people and animals in order to enter and exit from the cave for many thousands of millenniums. From this opening also rocks and ground were falling inside, forming steadily a huge cone, which gradually blocked entirely the entrance.
Nowadays, the visitors reach the cave through the horizontal artificial tunnel, followed by a 300m. settled passage that leads to the most important rooms and chambers of admirable, magnificent and unique nature.
All excavations that have been taken place in Petralona Cave -initially by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and later by Anthropological Association of Greece- have brought in numerous findings of the Paleolithic Age, which date back to the Middle Pleistocene, about 600.000 – 300.000 years ago. These findings have made the Petralona Cave one of the most ancient places in Europe.
The cave was used as a shelter both for humans and carnivorous animals. Humans and carnivorous animals inhabited the cave alternately. The animal bones found by the cave excavation were mainly nutritional remains as well as stone tools of the Paleolithic dwellers of the cave showing their hunting practice, their nutritional customs, their technology and their material civilization respectively. When humans abandoned the cave, this was used as a shelter for carnivorous animals, which brought their prey inside, leaving many remains, mostly bones of vegetarian animals. Additionally, a great quantity of bones coming from the dead carnivorous animals has been found inside the cave. These findings are today valuable source of information about the fauna and the environment of those periods.
Part of the cave findings is being exhibited in the Petralona Museum which is located outside the main entrance of the cave. All the above are under auspices of the Ephorate of Paleo-anthropology and Speleology of Northern Greece.
For more information, visit the official site: http://www.petralona-cave.gr
Opening hours: Mon-Sun | 08:00-20:00 (Apr-Oct)
Tue-Sun | 09:00-15:00 (during winter, Nov-Mar)
Full admission: €5 | Reduced admission: €3