When you’re looking for something to read about Zeus, one of the stories that you will definitely find is the legend of the cave of Zeus. The cave is in the Dilek Peninsula Great Meander National Park in Guzelcamli. It’s a must-see place when you’re in the neighborhood.
Before we go into the legend of the Cave of Zeus, let’s talk about the cave first. To find the cave, you have to follow the road to the Dilek Peninsula Great Meander National Park. Just about 200 meters before the entrance of the Park, to the left, you can see the cave. You follow a slippery little road of 20 meters up to the cave. But your end destination is absolutely worth the climb.
The Cave of Zeus has been formed by the dissolution of limestone formations by an underground water source. The water bassin resembling a swimming pool makes it even more attractive to visitors. Both local and foreign tourists love to swim here. The cave is 10 – 15 meters deep and 10 – 13 meters wide.
The Wish Trees of Dilek Peninsula National Park
Another interesting thing to know about the cave, besides the legend, are the wish trees. Near the entrance of the Cave of Zeus, you can see several trees with pieces of cloth tied to the branches. The tradition of people tying the cloths to the tree is rooted in the belief that the tree can help people turn their wishes into reality. This belief has actually gave its name to the National Park, namely “Dilek”, meaning Wish. It is believed that people chose this spot, because they thought it to be a sacred place.
The Mud of the Cave of Zeus
There are several big rocks in the pool of the cave. People used to dive up to 4 meters to collect the mud at the fundament of a big rock. They believed that the mud had a beautifying effect on the skin. Women smeared this mud on their faces and used it as a mask.
When the mask was dried up, they cleansed it with the water from the cave. This special mud is only formed at certain times of the year.
The Mineral Water in the Cave of Zeus
The water in the cave of Zeus forms a pool in the cave. The most striking fact about this water is that it has the same temperature during every season. It has a constant temperature of about 5 degrees Celsius. But the temperatur in the cave does change according to the seasons. You may notice that when you enter the cave in summer, the temperature feels cold and in winter luke warm.
As it’s believed that the mud is beautifying, so is drinking the water. The color of the water is blue and green. This is caused by the fact that the water is a combination of sweet water from a source in the mountain and water from the sea. As a result, the water in the cave develops into mineral water. Usually, visitors prefer to swim in the water, rather than drinking it.
The Legend of the Cave of Zeus
The legend of the Cave of Zeus, is about Zeus and his brother Poseidon. Poseidon was the god of the sea, earthquakes, storms, and horses and is considered one of the most bad-tempered Olympian gods. According to mythology, one day Zeus made his brother Poseidon really angry. Outraged, Poseiden sent high waves and created storms at the sea.
Zeus escaped the rage of Poseidon, and waited in this very cave until his brothers rage had passed. When waiting, Zeus took his time to relax in the cave and take a bath. According to another story, the members of the ancient Panionion Union held their meetings here. The Panionion is the oldest unity of colonies in the world.
This political union consisted of the members of twelve Ionian colonies. It is said that while the kings were having their meeting, the queens came to the cave and had a swim. Another interesting detail is that according to mythology, when you are standing at the entrance of the cave, you can see the reflection of the face of Zeus in front of you.
How to get to the Cave of Zeus?
To get there, you have to take a minibus (dolmus) that goes from Kusadasi to Guzelcamli-National Park, and back. Of course you can take your own car, rent a car or take your bicycle to go there. From Kusadasi to the Cave of Zeus, it’s a journey of about 27 km.