Lonely Planet Writer

These pictures capture the magical colours hidden in Greece’s Diros Cave

An innovative photographer has captured the natural twinkling colours hidden in Greece’s Diros Cave. This popular landmark in The Mani region dates back to Neolithic times and is home to a whole host of striking stalagmites and stalactites. Intrigued by Diros’ many atmospheric chambers, Yannis Larios decided to experiment with his camera, in the hope of capturing the colours he knew to be hidden in the rock.

Photographer captures the natural beauty of Diros Caves
The caves are filled with water, so visitors pass through in boats. Image courtesy of Yannis Larios

“Most people subconsciously consider whatever’s underneath the surface of the earth to be dark and gloomy”, Yannis tells Lonely Planet. “But that’s not the case! Caves comprise of a multitude of stalagmites and stalactites, which are created by water as it drips down from the earth’s soil and inside the large cavities underground. As water moves through the soil, it carries with it any sediment found in its passage, which ‘paints’ the caves with all these magnificent colours. During my previous trips to caves as a travel photographer, I always noticed this gorgeous palette of billions of colours. So I set out to highlight through my photography how gloriously and painstakingly it has been formed over billions of years, inch by inch.”

Diros Cave dates back to Neolithic times
‘I had to crouch, so as not to hit my head!’ Image by Yannis Larios

Visitors to Diros travel by boat, so Yannis wasn’t able to bring a lot of equipment with him. “Light at the cave is practically nonexistent,” he explains, “apart from artificial incandescent lamps that highlight some cavities. There was also no option for a tripod. The only method to capture these glorious colourful scenes is with a high ISO sensitivity in my camera and an ultra-steady hand, given that I was on a boat! I also had to crouch, so as not to hit my head on the cave’s narrow passages. The most important thing was to take the time to create compositions in the dark, and to harness water reflections so as to manipulate that little light to my benefit. I hope that the end-result depicts some of this glory.”

The caves comprise of a multitude of stalagmites and stalactites
Diros’ stalactites formed over billions of years. Image by Yannis Larios

For Yannis, being inside Diros is an incredibly unique experience. “There’s this eerie feeling of absolute silence that gets broken by dripping water here and there. But it’s awesome! Because as you row in silence across the cave, at every turn there’s a different spectrum of colors, water reflections and huge cavities in front of your very eyes. You’ll see one of my photos is of the ‘Room with Chandeliers’; a majestic spectacle. It’s like huge theatrical stages being revealed, in silence, at every other corner. It is indeed a great privilege to be a travel photographer, and to be able to absorb this spectacle and to showcase it with the glory and the respect it deserves.”

Caves comprise of a multitude of stalagmites and stalactites, which are created by water as it drips down from the earth's soil
The ‘Room with Chandeliers’ is a majestic spectacle. Image by Yannis Larios