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Palaiokastro & Chrysospilia The summit above the church of the Panaghia, known as Palaiokastro, functioned successively as the acropolis of Ancient Pholegandros and as a fortress in Byzantine and Venetian times. Only the amorphous ruins of mostly later mediaeval walls, some ancient foundations and a scatter of pottery remain to be seen on the site: the view over the island and towards Milos and Siphnos is particularly fine, however. To both west and east the mountain drops almost sheer into the sea 350m below. Far down the east slope, at a height of only 20m above the water is the deep * cave of Chrysospilia, which is accessible only from the water—and then only in exceptionally calm weather. At times, it is also closed because of excavations in progress. (The cave is of particular interest and any opportunity when it is possible to visit it should not be missed: this is most easily done as part of a ‘round-island’ boat-tour in the summer. Call ‘Diaplous’ tours, T. 22860 41158 for information.) Improvised concrete steps lead from the rocks at the foot of the cliff up to the cave entrance, where three cisterns of different shapes from the Roman period are visible. Pottery finds suggest that the cave was a place of cult in Hellenistic and Roman times. At several points in side, the walls are covered with clearly readable ancient names and inscriptions which date predominantly from the 4th century bc, some written in a natural iron-oxide pigment and others etched into an applied ‘plaster’. The inscriptions are often of an erotic nature; some have interpreted this as relating to a phallic cult of initiation into manhood, which was practised in the cave by the ephebes of the island, and which may have been prompted by the phallic forms of stalactites within the chambers of the interior.
Folegandros Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.