The Riddle of Pendeli's Cave: A Never Ending Saga

There is no way for somebody to explain in a few paragraphs the enigmatic and puzzling saga of the investigations concerning the riddle of Pendeli. In 1982, fellow investigator and friend George Balanos made an attempt and the result was a book with the appropriate name The Riddle of Penteli.

This book was the last serious attempt for the case to be presented concisely and as thoroughly as could be. After that there were many articles written, even TV documentaries but the case was so much complicated and perplexed that it was becoming more and more inscrutable as time passed.

For worse, as the story became known in a wider and wider circle of people, the picture was filled with “static”; disinformation, adoption of undocumented data as evidence, wild dissemination of the wildest statements by the most unreliable of people, vandalisms and destructions in spots of interest and many other things.

To make a long story short, let’s describe at first the more “objective” part of the chronicle.

The epicenter of the Penteli riddle is Daveli’s cave -a place with great archeological, historical and paranormal interest. Some consider it the most vigorous locus of power in Attica. It has been heavily damaged the last 30 years, but it still retains the special atmosphere of a place of power, especially at night. The recently burnt pine forest adds to the gloominess of the place, but the cave and its adjoining area still emit a strong aura of power.

The large cave (60 m long, 40 m wide, 20 m high) is actually inside an ancient marble quarry –one of the quarries that produced the Parthenon and Acropolis marbles. Parts of the ancient stone road still exist near the cave. The cave was considered a shrine since the antiquity and most probably much earlier. The cave was a “Panaipolion” a Pan shrine. Another Pan shrine in a much smaller cave (Nymphaion) was a few hundred meters further away, higher up on the mountain, but this small cave has been greatly destroyed by the quarrying operations during the recent decades. Findings from this particular Pan shrine are (or were) exhibited in Athens Archeological Museum.

The place seems to had power enough in order to attract many hermits during the Christian-Byzantine era. The cave and its nearby area used to be a dwelling place for individual monks and other “holy people”. There are also many extremely interesting folklore stories about strange apparitions and other phenomena in the area. In modern times, these apparitions took the form of UFOs and strange creatures.

In the entrance of the cave, there are two small Byzantine churches. Supposedly they are dedicated to Saint Nicholas and Saint Spyridon, but there is no evidence for that –just the oral tradition. Actually these two churches are interconnected or can be considered as one church with two sanctums –quite a strange fact maybe showing that some proto-Christian (Gnostic?) sect actually constructed this shrine in the early Christian era. Nobody knows for sure. There are some very interesting glyphs inside the church’s inner sanctum in the right.

It is said that in the mid-19th century Davelis, a famous robber and outlaw, used the cave as one of its many hideaways all around Attica. Legend says that Davelis had an affair with the Duchess of Plakentia, a French noble who stayed in a palace downhill, near modern Palaia Penteli community. Legend also says that there was a system of tunnels connecting the cave with Duchess’s palace, the nearby Pentelikon Monastery and other places in Attica, further away. Some legends say that the tunnels reach as far as Piraeus and the island of Salamis. There are some allegedly closed tunnels in the catacombs of the nearby Pentelikon Monastery, but the whole story of tunnels below Athens and its wider area is a very long one –and one which has been outrageously exploited the last few years.

The cave was an idyllic place, with the lush pine forest all around it. Before the 1960s-1970s and the great urbanization of Athens’ suburbs, the place was tranquil and serene. There was no road reaching the cave, only mountain tracks. The cave was a much-loved place for weekend hikers and excursionists.

In the late 1960s, some early groups of paranormal investigators heard stories about strange phenomena concerning the cave area and decided to start a research. Among them was George Balanos, who would later be the key person in making the story popular.

Alas, the investigations reached a dead end after a while. Plenty of strange and inexplicable phenomena haunted all those who wanted to investigate. These anomalous phenomena could not be properly classified and remained eerie –to say the best. In their tangible form they included malfunction of cameras and various instruments, strange effects on photographic plates and bizarre behavior by the investigators themselves. Flashlights would be turned on and off by themselves without a reason, (or without batteries), cameras started photographing nonexistent things or persons and the various measuring instruments went crazy. Cases of missing time, strange behavior, panic attacks, unexplained transient disappearances were common among these early investigators.

Basically because of all these, soon the investigations reached a dead end. In the early 1970s the whole research project had virtually stopped. There was a hiatus of inertia for some years until something else happened. In 1977 and after the shooting of a TV documentary about the cave phenomena (which was never aired) bands of technicians and workers went to the cave, set a barbed wire fence around the area and started excavating inside the cave and around it, using heavy machinery, bulldozers and dynamite. Clearly this was not an archeological excavation. Nobody was allowed to visit the area. Guards with civilian clothes illegally forbade entry to excursionists. Nobody seemed to know what was exactly happening. The police intervened but then announced that these works were of military character and the case was out of its jurisdiction. Maybe such a thing could be done during the military dictatorship (1967-1974) but now it was 1977 and illegal digs inside an archeological area with bulldozers and dynamite was something downright intolerable.

The situation was a total chaos. Greek Air Force, Navy, Army, various secret agencies, NATO and the Americans, various technical companies were all seemingly involved, but nobody was officially responsible. Even worse, the investigations reached again a dead end and no definite clues could be found about either the nature of works or who was moving the strings.

The situation reached the Greek Parliament. There were questions from the opposition regarding the nature of works that were destroying an important archeological site. But the government responded –via the then Minister of Defense- that had not the liberty to discuss the subject since it was a matter of “national security”.

According to some rumors and unofficial sources the Greek Air Force (or NATO) planned to use the cave in order to create an underground missile base, a nuclear war bunker or a nuclear warhead storage facility. But the selection of an important archeological area for that would have create a great havoc. And according to the geologists and civil engineers asked, the area was not at all suitable for any of the above construction options. Apparently the nuclear silo/bunker story was just a cover story or a fashionable theory suitable for the Cold War zeitgeist of the late 1970s.

So, who was responsible and why this particular area was chosen?

Not long after, the works stopped, or at least were continued intermittently. Holes were opened in the barbed wire –and in many cases the installations remained unguarded (so much for the “rop secret” nature of the works). So entrance became easy for visitors and investigators.

The works had resulted to an enormous destruction of the cave and the churches. The whole cave floor was practically lowered and thousands of tons of stone and dirt were moved. Concrete walls had been constructed inside the cave. The natural tunnels leading to various chambers and to an underground small pond were destroyed or blocked with tons of rubble.

The mysterious works continued interruptedly until 1983 when the intervention of the Ministry of Culture led to their stop. At least this was the official explanation. Now, why this intervention did not take place until six years after 1977, is another story. Were the works finished by then? Apparently not, because now there were 3-4 great artificial tunnels leading to a dead-end bored near the cave. Had their construction been continued, they would have reached the cave from below. Now the place was deserted. Little by little, the time began to take its toll on the unfinished tunnels, excavations, concrete walls and the machinery left there. At the same time, there were frequent visits from people or groups of people. There were reports of occult rituals taking place in the vicinity of the cave.

In August 1990 there was again a turn of the tide. Large-scale works started again. But now the situation was radically different; whoever was in charge was forced to stop the works after an immediate public outcry caused by strong media intervention.

The activities of various occult groups continued. Remains of “black magic rituals” were found in a number of cases. The visitors were leaving lots of symbols, graffiti, carvings or strange stone constructions inside the cave or around it -and of course lots of garbage and other things. Some of them were even sacrificing animals -as it is clearly shown in these two photos; a poor dog is hanged over the entrance of one of the artificial tunnels (September 1990). In other cases, remains of bloody sacrifices were also found in the vicinity of the cave.

The frequency of various strange phenomena haunting the area and the people that visited it is unusually high. Not only UFOs and strange apparitions were seen but some people experienced phenomena of more outlandish nature. Like the following that is referred in George Balanos’ book.

In mid-April 1977 Mr L.X, his wife and Miss V.M. went for an excursion to Pendeli mountain. In a certain place on the rocky slopes they saw a strange car. The car was not strange but the place where it was stationed was; an inaccessible spot on the rough rocks which it could not have reached without suffering serious damage. But the car was intact. It stayed there for many days; the three people went there repeatedly to see if the car’s owner would finally come and tow it.

In one of these visits they climbed at the spot where the car was in order to examine it. There was nothing unusual except the car’s presence and some peculiar tracks on the snow. The tracks were oval, about half a meter long and they were even in virtually vertical rock surfaces, where no animal or man could walk.

They did not pay much attention. The girl was a little away from the couple and had reached a spot behind some bushes, where the rocks were forming a small cavity. Then she started screaming wildly. The others ran to her. When she had calmed down she explained that she had seen a “white critter, a horrendous white creature” with oval shape, about 60 cm tall with no other features except “two huge luminous eyes”. The others did not see anything but Mr L.X, noticing that the bushes were moving like some animal was behind them, decided that they had better to retreat. So they went back to Athens.

A few days later, Mr L.X. had a weird experience. He was again in Pendeli with his wife when he started screaming and trembling. For a while he was not able to speak. Finally he explained to her that he was ready to start the car when he saw beside him, out of the car, a huge black sphere rotating with tremendous speed. He was not in a position to describe it in details. It was something like a “hairy sphere” or “a sphere made of thick black smoke”. He could see nothing more and the whole incident lasted fractions of seconds. At the same time, he felt like “something trying to enter his mind” and saw the sphere coming through the closed glass of the car window.

On the other side of the Pentelikon mountain, there is a part of an asphalt road that is considered by some to have anti-gravity properties. It is a 200m-long strip, apparently flat, or with a slight inclination. Sometimes the cars can roll “upwards”. The phenomenon seems to fluctuate and is not always intense. Plenty of strange-paranormal phenomena have happened in this particular area. Measurements with special surveying instruments have showed that there is no mystery, just an optical illusion. But the surveying equipment is taking as a frame of reference the parameters of the surveyed area, therefore cannot detect any such anomaly.

Pendeli’s cave and its surroundings are a powerful locus, one of the myriad others that exist in other parts of the planet. In such loci, the known laws of physics behave erratically. There is something wrong with the electromagnetic and gravitational fields, among other things. And this can result in many secondary phenomena of more objective or subjective nature, altered states of consciousness and distortions of reality itself.

There is an unconfirmed story concerning a unusual natural “magnetic channel” which supposedly is connecting the area of Pendeli with a spot thousands of miles away, at Langley, West Virginia, USA. Maybe the other factors of the equation are the (now decommissioned) American base at nearby Nea Makri, the military installations at the top of Pendeli and another base at the base of the mountain. All these three bases were officially telecommunication installations. Taking in mind the strong and long time interest of the military (or certain groups inside the military complex) about the area, the mysterious works (which objective was apparently to change the shape of the cave and the area and not construct anything in particular) and the whole spectrum of phenomena (from UFOs to strange behaviour) one can reach a tentative conclusion; somebody wanted to exploit the huge potential of the Pendeli locus for a gamut of special applications. “Telecommunications” can be a cover name in this game.

And this game continues to be played by unknown gamers, players and pawns, players who are pawns in some other’s game, pawns who think they are players, in a never-ending process expanding in undefined dimensions of space, time and reality.