Georgia’s Prometheus Cave Is An Underground Day Trip With A Mythical Spin
In the middle of the country of Georgia, there’s an enormous cave that will make you feel like a history book hero. Inside, you’ll find stalactites, stalagmites, petrified waterfalls and an underground lake, all lit up in magically bright colors. And according to Greek mythology and local legend, the cave is supposedly the location where Prometheus was chained in the ancient times.
Remember the myth of Prometheus? Okay, maybe you were snoozing in English class or maybe your reading list never included Homer’s “The Odyssey.” Let’s do a quick refresher course.
In Greek mythology, Prometheus was an immortal Titan who stole fire from the gods to give it to humans. But he was caught and punished by Zeus, the king of the Olympian Greek gods. Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock, sentencing him to endless torture. Now, the Greeks didn’t shy away from the gruesome; according to the legend, Zeus sent an eagle to eat Prometheus’ liver. But because he was immortal — his liver would grow back the next day and then Zeus would send another eagle to eat it again and again. The final chapter of the story is probably more familiar to you: Zeus’ son Hercules (zero to hero himself) finally freed Prometheus from his eternal torture.
And this cave in Georgia is where the epic tale took place, if you listen to centuries of folklore. But Prometheus Cave is impressive even without the legendary connection that gave the cave its name. It’s nearly a mile long, with six chambers and a quarter-mile-long lake inside.
Entering each of the chambers is awe-inspiring. You walk single-file through a tunnel that suddenly opens into an enormous cavern. Even craning your neck upwards, you can’t see the entirety of the room in one look. You can easily imagine Hercules staging a daring rescue through these depths. (No judgment if you want to sing a rendition of “Go The Distance.” The acoustics would probably be on your side.)
There’s a concrete path leading through the cave, but you do need to be prepared for some stairs. The elevation inside the cave changes a bit as you stroll past the stalactites and stalagmites that are possibly the stuff of legends. Don’t worry — the path still lets you still get up close and personal with the rocks formations, all illuminated by colorful lights along the walkway.
At the end of your tour, you can opt to take a boat ride across the cave’s huge underground lake. A ticket for the boat ride costs an extra 7 GEL ($2.80). But heads up: Sometimes weather conditions can make the extra trip unsafe and cause cancellations.
The cave is located about 12 miles outside of Kutaisi, one of Georgia’s bigger cities. The city itself boasts monasteries, fountains and some pretty spectacular restaurants offering classic Georgian cuisine. It’s an easy stopping point on a trip from capital city Tbilisi to coastal Batumi or alpine Svaneti.
Looking to visit this enormous underground attraction? You can take a marshrutka minibus from the main square in Kutaisi (number 30 to Tsiteli Khidi, where you transfer to number 42). Not feeling the public transit options? We’d suggest booking a tour with Budget Georgia instead of taking a taxi to the cave. The company’s Canyons and Caves tour hits two canyons and two caves for only slightly more than the cost of a taxi — $14. (Georgia is budget travel heaven.)