Discover Messinia; 5 hidden beauties in the Greek mainland

28 Aug

Discover the best of Messinia in our new website!

messinia

Photo 1, Source: Peloponnesos.gr

Summer in Greece should not only be associated with the unique islands, the bright sun and the amazing beaches. Summer in Greece gives you also the chance to explore the natural treasures of this country and allow your mind and body to relax and take a step outside the stress of everyday life.

Let’s try to explore a part of Greece which combines many different landscapes and sceneries of this world within a few square kilometers; Messinia, a destination which has been listed in the top twenty trips for 2011 by National Geographic.

Messinia is a great place for those of you who wish to leave behind the islands and their cosmopolitan atmosphere and see something different. So wear your comfy shoes, charge your camera and follow me to a journey you will never forget! Follow me to Messinia.

1. Polylimnio, the celebration of water

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Photo 2: Source: dimos-pylou-nestoros.gr

Only few are aware of this well-kept secret of Messinia… Okay, maybe more than few but still, it’s something that doesn’t attract as many people as you would expect.

It is located half the distance between Kalamata and Pylos, right next to Charavgi village. After passing the village there are road signs that will direct you to this magical place.

At the entrance of the canyon you should park your car and continue on foot. I guess that these are not good news at least for some of you but the scenery you are going to set your eyes on will be breathtaking and absolutely rewarding. Follow the trail and you will find yourself wondering around a dense forest with small wooden bridges making you feel as if you’re part of a fairytale. Within less than 15 minutes you will see the first lake unfolding in front of you. I’m sure that you will just stand there trying to understand which famous painter has put his finger in the creation of this work of art. Was it Picasso or Dali who created this surrealistic scenery where the watery world of Mesopotamos river gets together with the unique geologic formation of the place and creates an unbelievably beautiful vista?

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Photo 3: The Blacklake via Elias Yiannopoulos, flickr

Surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, there is a total of 15 lakes, sometimes in parallel and sometimes in vertical structure, that will make you eager to explore more! And there is good reason for that since you will keep discovering deep lakes, shallow ponds and waterfalls up to 20 meters high every few meters. The highest you climb the more the nature rewards you. At this point I have to say that everybody can explore all the lakes since no special skill is required, just a little caution, so there is no excuse for not climbing to the top.

Tips:

  • Wear comfortable shoes, suitable for climbing!
  • Bring some water with you!
  • You will see crabs and watersnakes in the area but they are totally harmless; so don’t be scared!
  • The water is a bit cold (14 C) but don’t miss the chance to dive! You will feel refreshed and full of energy.
  • All the lakes have strange names such as Blacklake, The lucky, The holy, The Italian etc.

2. Voidokoilia, dive in the dream

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Photo 4: Voidokoilia Beach, Source Kyvernitis.gr

This dreamy beach is located just 50 km off the city of Kalamata. Its perfect shape, almost three quarters of a circle, is going to trick you and make you think that it’s artificial but believe me; this beach with the extraordinary deep blue, crystal clear water and the sandy beach is totally natural and it is one of the best beaches in Greece.

There are two ways to get there. The first one is through the small village of Yalova (or Gialova) which will direct you right next to the sand dunes of the beach. The second one is from Divari beach and it’s only for those of you who enjoy a little adventure before the ultimate relaxation. Here you have two options! Either you have to cross the lagoon or you can try the ascent through the Paleokastro of Pylos at the south of the beach.

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Photo 5: View from Pylos Castle via Zsuzsa Koger, flickr

Due to its remote location, Voidokoilia is free of sunbeds and beach bars, a fact which fits with its natural beauty, allowing the place to stay pure and unspoiled by the human touch. The beach and the whole area are protected by the Network Natura 2000.

Tips:

  • Bring with you drinking water and beach umbrellas for sun protection.
  • It’s worth following both of the routes mentioned above to get to the beach. The one when you go there and the other on your return!
  • You can also try cycling to the beach as the route is ideal for bike lovers.
  • Avoid staying to the beach after the sunset because the lagoon attracts mosquitos which are not such a good company for the most of us!

3. Biliovo path, walk into the past

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Photo 6: Biliovo path via dopios.gr

This amazing path, 5 km long, was built in 1904 to connect two alpine villages, the Sotirianika and Altomira and it is considered to be one of the best self-preserved paths in Greece. It is located 15km away off Kalamata, it has 75 turns in total and the slope can be up to 70%. You can leave your car right at the entrance of the path and after taking a deep breath of fresh air, you are ready to begin your journey in the past. Even though it is completely abandoned, the path is in perfect shape apart from two or three parts that require some extra caution.

At the very end of the path, you will find Altomira, a village worth visiting with old stone houses being exceptional examples of the distinctive architecture of Mani. Since 1999 Altomira village is under the protection of the Greek Ministry of Culture.

Tips:

  • It will take you around 3 hours to walk the whole route, depending on your physical condition!
  • A bottle of water and your camera is more than enough to take with you!
  • The best time to go is during spring or early autumn!
  • Make sure that you wear climbing shoes because anything less than that will send you at the local hospital!

4. Sapientza, an island full of secrets!

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Photo 7: Sapientza island via ethnos.gr

Sapientza is a place that combines the mystery and quest since it offers the visitor the chance to do things off the beaten track such as birdwatching and ancient wreck diving.

You can get there only by boat so if you are not lucky enough to have your own you can take one from Methoni’s port.

The center of the island, Spartolaka, is within walking distance from the harbor and the vista is just beautiful. A glade surrounded by forests and covered with ​​dry clay and fossilized pollen form a unique landscape.

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Photo 7: Spartolaka via tsoumpasphotogalleryning.com

The wild, virgin forests are not visible from sea level and make you think that you are in a jungle! What is more interesting is that you are going to see an extremely dense forest of arbutus making big cranberries at the size of a small apple. This forest has been officially declared a natural treasure since 1986.

The island satisfies the lovers of diving as well! At Cape Karsi, located in the northern tip of Sapientza Island and under just 8 meters of water, there are many ancient wrecks with important findings and impressive ruins such as the columns of the Great Peristyle of Caesarea of ​​Palestine, a Roman sarcophagus and other ancient findings since the island has always been a “collector” of shipwrecks.

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Photo 8: shipwreck findings via ethnos.gr

But as I mentioned before Sapientza is an island that can satisfy any kind of nature lover and except of rare species of birds you can also meet the wild goat called kri-kri, commonly found in Crete.

Tips:

  • Birdwatchers, don’t forget to take your binoculars with you!
  • Visit the lighthouse in the natural harbor of Porto Loggo, a beautiful and impressive building, created by the British around 1890. Climb the 75 steps during sunset and let the scenery bring the magic into your journey!

5. Koroni VS Methoni, the eternal rivals 

Symbols of glorious days, these two castles are there to remind you the history of Greece. Standing there since the ancient times they are definitely two of the most important Greek castles.

Koroni’s Castle

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Photo 9: Koroni’s castle via costanavarino,flickr

The castle of Koroni occupies almost the entire Akritas Cape. It was built by the Venetians in the 13th century and it was restored by the Ottomans in the 16th century. The ascent path starting from the pier, takes you back to the past since you will see sections of the initial old Byzantine Castle as well as parts of the ancient fortification.

The narrow streets will lead you to the main gate of the castle located at the north side.

Inside the castle you will see among other things the ancient churches of St. Sophia and St. Charalambos and the monastery of John the Baptist.

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Photo 10: Koroni Vllage via Invvigren, flickr

Tips:

  • You should visit for a few hours or even stay for one night in Koroni! You will fall in love with the narrow streets, the view of the sea and the beautiful houses!
  • Visit the church Of Panagia Eleistra, just under the castle, in the middle of a small palm forest.
  • It’s worth seeing the breathtaking view from the castle; Messinian Gulf lays in front of your eyes and on the other side,the mountain of Taigetos. Just beautiful!
  • Eat fresh fish at Parthenon Restaurant.

Methoni’s Castle

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Photo 11: Methoni’s Castle via Spiros Vathis, flickr

Methoni’s Castle is better preserved than the one in Koroni and it also has a big advantage for me; Bourtzi, a small fortress located just a few meters into the sea giving an extra touch of past in the whole scenery.

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Photo 12: Bourtzi via Nancy Giambani, flickr

The castle was built by the Venetians in the early 13 century on a rocky peninsula and it is one of the biggest castles in the Mediterranean. You will definitely be amazed by the impressive entrance; a stone bridge with 14 arches, which was built by the Venetians to connect the castle with the mainland.

The imposing castle gate is decorated with embossed symbols. Coats of arms, ruins from Venetian homes and the church of the Holy Savior are just some of the sites of the castle. A paved road leads to the fortified islet of Bourtzi which is a must see!

Tips:

  • Keep in mind that the castle for some weird reason closes at 3 p.m.
  • I am sure that at some point you will be tired from the castle tour so take a break at Klimataria tavern and try zucchini flowers in batter! They are delicious!

Now let’s see how well informed you are. What is the important word and perhaps the most representative of Messinia which is not reported in the text?

Labros Psomodotis

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7 Responses to “Discover Messinia; 5 hidden beauties in the Greek mainland”

  1. ottomandandy August 28, 2013 at 12:43 #

    extremely wonderful place 🙂 nice post !

    • dorakarantza August 30, 2013 at 13:28 #

      Messinia is just beautiful!! Thank you so much! 🙂

    • D November 6, 2013 at 14:49 #

      Absolutely agree

  2. greeklovers August 29, 2013 at 21:28 #

    Reblogueó esto en GREEK LOVERSy comentado:
    Not all are islands! Messinia, Peloponnesos wonder

    • Labros.Psomodotis September 5, 2013 at 14:17 #

      thank you for the reblog… Try also to visit the capital of Messinia, Kalamata, it’s worth it!!!!

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