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VOULIAGMENI (Suburb of Athens) ATTIKI
Vouliagmeni took its name from the renown lake with the curative waters and the underground caves. Let's make its acquaintance!
Until 1960, it was believed that the lake was created during the prehistoric era, after several important geological transformations whose period could be not accurately calculated.
However, the fact that the lake is not mentioned even by Pausanias and other travelers of subsequent years of the antiquity as the Roman Strabo and the Byzantine Stephanos (6th century bC), this was a problem for the specialists.
After methodical studies that were conducted during the nineteen sixties, the resulting theory was that the lake was formed at subsequent years from what it was initially believed, i.e. just 2.000 years ago.
At the place that today is occupied by the lake, there once was a huge underground cave with a massive volume of warm waters and sensitive calcareous rocks. The lake was created as a result of the collapse of the roof of this subterranean cave, which was formed in the first place by the slow solution of the calcareous rocks of the roof of the cave due to the dissolving action of warm fountains.
The shape of the collapse (dolines) is ellipsoid, with a SE - NW orientation. Its maximum length is 210 m and its width is 160 m.
Makria Rachi Gulch Cave
In 1977, a group of speleologists from the Greek Speleological Society under Lazaros Chatzirazarissis, started the first scientific exploration of the gulch cave, which verified the above theory.
After the first chamber with a depth of 100 m, with damaged and very old great stalactites, and after a hard descend through narrow passages, one arrives at several subsequent levels with exceptionally impressive and massive stalactites.
The gulch communicates with the lake and the sea. In paleontological eras the changing of the sea level contributed to the erosion of the limestone and finally to the creation of the collapse, a phenomenon that worked upwards and not downwards as is usually the case.
The big and the small lake
When we refer to the lake of Vouliagmeni, we usually tend to forget the fact that at the area of the geological collapse (dolines), and apart from the main lake which is known to all, another and smaller lake has been created.
The dimensions of the big lake are 140 m length, 55 m width and its maximum depth is 12 m, while the dimensions of the smaller lake are 20 m length, 15 m width and its maximum depth is 9 m.
The surface of both lakes is 0,40 m higher than the sea surface. This difference is due to the fact that the narrow strip of land that has remained at the West end of the collapse (dolines) and separates it from the sea, does not permit the immediate draining of the water horizon.
During the Turkish occupation the name of the lake was 'karachi' (kara-sou), i.e. 'black water', due to the impressive hue of its deep green waters.
The steep rocks that surround both lakes create a serene and imposing scenery, and their shadows that reflect on the always calm waters intensify even more the magnificent view.
The strip of land that separates the two lakes is full of great pine trees, adding one more colorful note to the environment. The buildings which house the facility installations of the lake are on this strip.
The waters of the lake
The waters of the lake come from the mixing of the water of the subterranean cave and the water of the sea, through the cracks on the calcareous walls of the collapse. It is salty, and its temperature varies between 20 and 27 Celsius during the whole year, while at greater depths it reaches 35 degrees.
The fresh water of the subterranean cave comes from the bottom of a carst duct, whose entrance is at the NW side of the lake and at 5 m under its surface, under the blocks of the city.
The subterranean river, which due to it salty water is believed to be connected to the sea, renews the waters of the lake. Then, with a steady flow it repels its water probably to the sinkhole known as 'the well', which is into the sea and 3 km away from the lake.
Since 1988, the Paleoanthropological - Speleological Department of the Ministry of Culture conducts with an international group of cave divers a systematic exploration and study of the cave of the lake.
Until today, 2.421 m of underground routes have been studied. The biggest chamber that has been located has a length of 813 m, an average roof height of 50 m and a maximum bottom depth of 110 m. It is considered as one of the biggest sunk chambers in Europe. In the same chamber an interesting decor of stalactites at a depth of 9 m has also been located.
The analysis of the samples (which is still under progress) will offer important information about the climate of the region during the Paleolithic era, and also about the movements and fluctuations of the sea surface.
In spite of the incomparable beauty and the rich decor offered by the stalactites and stalagmites of the cave, it impossible for the site to be touristically developed, due to its narrow passages and its vertical orientation and opening.
The small lake of the black mud
Dimitris Koutsogiannis characteristically writes in his book 'Old Vouliagmeni' (1984): ..."Apart from the big lake, and the three little lakes (the two of them are consecutive), there was - and I repeat that there was, because sacrilegious hands destroyed it, there was another, tiny round lake which was not at the same level with the other lakes. This tiny lake during the past years was known all over Attica for its therapeutic mud baths. The round, small lake has a diameter of 10 m, with a smooth bottom, and its dark water just came over your knee, while its tiny shores were almost perpendicular, and you could enter and exit from it quite easily...
It was a curious and rare phenomenon this tiny lake, with its endless production of black mud, and which was used by many, because it was very therapeutic. It was a small fountain, which instead of water it produced healing mud...
During the past decades the mud baths had been quite famous. The therapeutic powers of the 'metallic mud' were really effective for diseases of the spinal cord, arthritis, rheumatism and phlebitis.
The mud is found as sediment at the bottom of the sea, of lakes and rivers. It usually contains calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, iron, silicate salts, sulphur and carbonic acid. These ingredients affect several functions of the organism. The person who takes the mud bath spreads the mud on his body, and immediately experiences a feeling of total well being and euphoria. His respiration and pulse quickens, while a total perspiration follows these symptoms.
The Municipality of Vouliagmeni, together with the Paleoanthropological - Speleological Department of the Ministry of Culture aim to completely survey the situation, in order to effectively protect this unique phenomenon.
The area has been classified as a natural monument to be preserved, and it has already been included in the National Catalogue "NATURA 2000" and protected by the "RAMSAR" international treaty.
The lake today
Today, the lake installations contain a modern hydrotherapy clinic, with complete supporting facilities and a refreshments bar.
The swimming facilities and the hydrotherapy clinic are in constant operation throughout the year, from morning till sunset, while the refreshments bar is open during the morning and the afternoon in the summer as a recreational area.
This text is cited June 2005 from the Municipality of Vouliagmeni URL below
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