At the feet of the Prophet Elijah hill, right above the public beach “Votsalakia” in picturesque Kastela, “Siraggio” or “Paraskevas’ Cave”, was discovered in 1897. Siraggio is an ancient tunnel, the construction of which is attributed to the Minyes, the pre-historic inhabitants of Piraeus. The pre-historic monument is approachable either by descending the stone steps connecting the main road of Kastela, Vasileos Pavlou St., to “Siraggio”, or by taking the lane ascending from the beach.
The only thing we know about this mysterious tunnel for sure is that it owes one of its names to Emmanuel Paraskevas, the owner of the high-class tavern Spilia (Cave) situated there in the ’60s. What was the tunnel used for? Where was it leading to before it was filled with rubble? Who exactly was the pre-historic hero Siragos after whom the tunnel was originally named? These are some of the questions remaining unanswered up to this day.
The official archaeological version supports that the Minyes used a natural ground cavity and dug a tunnel, 12 meters deep (a lot deeper, according to other versions). Given an alter, bearing the engraved inscription Execrable Apollo, found within, the place was probably used as a sanctum dedicated to the local hero Siragos or as an Asclepium, a temple dedicated to the medicine god Asclepius. It is also suggested that the tunnel had been used as a Porfirio, a laboratory for purple sea shells abundant at Piraiki coast.
The “Siraggio” entrance’s sidewalls are adorned with two mosaics, one depicting the mythical monster Scylla and the other a young man – possibly the hero Siragos himself – riding a chariot drawn by 4 horses. Nonetheless, nobody knows what to make of the two ancient sepulchers found in a cylinder room near the final accessible section of the tunnel. Later on, during the Roman times, “Siragio” was used as a Valaneio (public baths). Today, a recently installed iron fence blocks the tunnel entrance, most probably for the visitor’s safety.
Either you seek the opportunity to enjoy a swim in the crystal clear water of the beach “Votsalakia” or wander about fashionable Kastella, it is almost certain that the mysterious tunnel dug into the ancient rock will add a new perspective to your stroll. For yet another time, it is obvious that in most Piraeus neighborhoods natural beauty and entertainment is perfectly combined with archaeological sightseeing.