Messinia is one of the most beautiful prefectures in Greece. Its landscape consists of endless coast line and large mountains, and it´s for certain that there are many surprises for you, as long as you have the mood and the time to explore it. A practicable method to approach Messinia from a traveler’s point of view is by taking into consideration the central road axes. This way, Messinia can be divided in:
Kalamata – Mani – Taygetus:
The area that includes Kalamata, the capital of Messinia, and all the area east of Kalamata, which belongs to the wider area of Mani.
The area of Northwest Messinia, which is consisted from villages only.
The area that includes the small cities of Kiparisia, Filiatra and Gargaliani.
The south area of Messinia, which includes the small cities of Pilos, Methoni and Koroni.
Kalamata has the largest port in the prefecture and the southernmost in mainland Greece. It can cater for cruisers and liners. Next to the port, there is an organised marina for smaller tourist vessels. The beaches of Kalamata have been awarded numerous European Βlue Flags, and stretch for 4km. Kalamata is one of the most gifted cities in Greece, mostly thanks to its geographic position. Situated in the heart of the crystal-blue Messinian Bay and on the roots of the imposing Mountain Taygetos, it is a heaven for its inhabitants. Also, Kalamata is the ideal base for those who want to discover the secrets of Messinia, since it is situated in a central spot of the region and all the tourist and cultural destinations are not further than one hour in car.
The best starting point for sight-seeing around Kalamata is the city’s historical centre. There you will come across the historic little church of Saint Apostles, where the Greek Revolution against the long Turkish occupation was declared on March 25th 1821. This little church was built in 1317 by Emperor Andronicus and its presence affects magically those who are familiar with its history.
Also visit: Mpenakeio Archeological Museum, Municipal Library Historical and Folkloric Museum of Kalamata, Historical and Folkloric Museum of Kalamata
Kardamili. From every aspect, it´s the “chosen” seaside city, which managed to reserve its name and it´s location for at least 3.300 years. Kardamili today is a tourist destination, with many sightseeing, loved by Greeks and foreigners. It is fully equipped for its population: court, post office, schools, and many more installations, ready to accept more and more habitants.
Heading towards Stoupa, one sees “Phoneas” beach, which is a very characteristic and favorite spot for all visitors, who get magnetized by the turquoise water and the unique morphology of the scenery, which is dominated by the existence of an imposing large rock in its centre, that serves as natural shading to the bathers.
Kardamili has excellent touristic infrastructure for accommodation and recreation and in its central market one can find goods of every kind. Kardamili is also ideal for hiking, since Vyros ravine’s entrance is there and through its marked footpaths one can be led to marvelous Byzantine churches.
Stoupa can charm the visitor during all seasons of the year. It is the most touristic place in Mani. Stoupa can charm the the visitor during all seasons of the year. It is the most turistic place in Mani. In the East of the village there is the castle that once was the acropole of the old town of Lefkto. According to Pausanias, there were the temple of Athena and her statue. During the period 1204 – 1259 the castle reconstructed and named Bofor. Nikos Kazantzakis lived in Stoupa with Aleksis Zorba, working in the mines of Prastova in Neo Proastio. It is the place where Kazantzakis wrote the novel “Zorba the Greek”.
During the summer, the sea and the crystal clear water is a provocation for the tourists. In the village there are two beaches,the one is known as the Stoupa beach and the other as Kalogria beach.
From touristic point of view, in Stoupa one can find everything. Comfortable hotels, best quality food, bars, but above all, people that are willing to serve anybody. Apart from the beautiful beaches, one can enjoy the magical sunsets from any place of the village.
Among the many gifts of Kalamata, stands its beach, where one can reach in a few minutes on foot, even from the centre of the city.
Six kilometres east of Kalamata, just before the turn that leads to Messinian Mani, stop at Almiros Beach, one of the most frequented beaches of Kalamata. It has big pebbles and it is well equipped: showers and 2 beach bars with deck chairs and a beach volley court nearby. In the summer you can find a shop with equipment for sea sports such as skiing and wind surf, as well as a powerboat that “hauls” you on inflatable sea games at full speed.
At a distance of 7 kilometres from Kalamata one finds the beach of Mikri Mantineia. The beach has pebbles and there is a lifeguard in its centre. There is a parking area nearby. The beach is the best choice for those who want to eat right after their swim, since over the beach there are plenty of taverns that practically touch the sea.
The beach of Kalogria, right before Stoupa, is among the most popular beaches of Messinia. This is the reason why in the summer many people visit it, mostly tourists; so it is not ideal for those who prefer quiet beaches. With fine golden sand, it is full of the deck chairs and umbrellas of the beach bars nearby. You can hire a sea bike or a canoe or enjoy the beach volley court in the centre of the beach.
Agios Nikolaos beach
Follow the road from Pylos to Messini and then turn left to find yourself in the beach of Agios Nikolaos. It has very fine pebble and the only thing you will find apart from the beach and the sea is a shower and a dressing-cubicle.
Passing through an area of reeds you find the large beach of Velika. With fine golden sand and trees in its higher part, it is a popular destination and in the summer it bustles with life. At the end of the beach there is a big coffee bar on the sand, practically into the sea.
As its name suggests, Makrinammos beach (long sand) is long with fine sand, beautiful water and a breath-taking landscape. You will find it by turning left after Kalamaki and going down a small road. It is a beach we strongly recommend.
• Classical monuments
• Castles & Towers
• Churches & Monasteries
Here are some of Messenia’s most famous castles worth visiting:
In the northest part of the west coast of the Peloponnese, lies the great fortress of Methoni. In the small peninsula, that was already fortified from ancient times, there has always been a city, renown for its harbour.
Pylos Castle – Niokastro
Two castles are built on the summits of the two hills at the ends of the Bay of Navarino, overlooking the town of Pylos: the older castle of Navarino, called Palaiokastron or Palaionavarinon and the more recent castle, called Niokastron. The latter was built in 1573 by the Turks, and in 1686 was given over to the Venetians. It again came under Turkish domination in 1715, along with the castle of Koroni and Palaionavarino. In 1816 it was captured by Ibrahim Pasha and remained under his control until 1828 when it was liberated by the French general Maison. During the Second World War it was used as the seat of the Italian and, later, the German headquarters.
Nowadays, the castle is a scenery where anybody can enjoy calmness in a piny landscape and a breath-taking panoramic view of the historical centre of Kalamata. Due to extreme danger, the door leading to the castle’s center is locked and visitors can only move perimetrically in the castle area.
Troupakis Mourtzinos´ castle was built on 1807, and consists of a bulding complex, into which resides the older temple of st. Spiridon. On 6 January 1821, Kolokotronis came to this castle and stayed for two and a half months, where he planned and begun the attack to liberate Kalamata from Turks.
Zarnata, which is not even marked on the map any more, and is now only a toponym referring to the hill with the castle, used to include the entire area. Kampos was Zarnata, only with a different name. Even the castle of Garmpelia (a castle near the big castle) is called by Fratzis “the castle of Zarnata”.
The presence of Achaeans in the area dates back from 1.600 B.C. Originated from Thessalia, they are registered as descendants of Aeolus the Thessalian and of the same race as those who settled in Argolida and Lakonia. Details such as how and why remain in the dark. The thread of myth is regained at the time when the family of Atrides posessed Lakonia. “Back then” the biggest part of Messinia belonged to Lakonia, while the state of Pylos extended along the west coast so far as river Alphios to the north.
Under the reign of Oivalos in Lakonia, Aeolus’s son, Periiris, ruled in Messinia. He was the first to marry Perseas’s daughter, Gorgofoni (Oivalos would also marry her later) with whom he had two sons, Lefkippos and Aphareas. Lefkippos ruled in East Messinia and Aphareas in West Messinia.
• Cycling routes
• Sea sports
The ountain got its name after nymph Tayget, the daughter of Atlas. The mountain has five peaks and its other name if “Pendadaktilos” (five-fingered). One of these peaks is well known for its pyramidal shape and can be seen from the side of Sparta as well as from Kardamili.
The high peaks of Taygetos, such as Profitis Εlias, Xerovouna, Neraidovouna, Zitali and others are usually covered with snow and the alpine zone is located on this height. But at the same time some sparse dolomite rocks are also found here.
Taygetos has rich flora and fauna but unfortunately in spite of many efforts it is still not a national reservation as it should be. The Taygetos flora numbers about 160 Greek endemic plants out of which 28 exist only on Taygetos.
The Taygetos fauna is rich in reptiles as well as in birds and mammals. Today its fauna includes 85 species of birds, 19 species of mammals and 33 types of reptiles.
On Taygetos there are many gorges and ravines, such as the Rindomo ravine and the Viros gorge. It is not at all accidental that the famous tortoise caret-caret has chosen the clean and pure Selinitsa shore (between Githion and Trinisa) as a place to lay eggs.
On Taygetos many beautiful caves were found. In the interior of some of them fossil animals have been discovered that existed about 2 million years ago. A lot of different reptiles and mammals such as snakes, scorpions and bats find their shelter inside the caves.
Many metals and different sorts of marble as well as construction stones were mined on Taygetos in old days. They include for example the red marble or rosso antico as Romans called it from the Maniot village of Dimariotika (Dimaristika), the Serpentitis marble from Laconia, the Maniot white marble.
The majestic Taygetos Mountain dominates the area, while the Tainaro cape of the Maniot peninsula is the most southern point not only of Greece but also of the whole European continent. The deepest point of the Mediterranean (4850m) is located 62 miles to the southwest of the cape.
Police Station (Kardamili) Tel.: +30 27210 73209
Health Care Centre (Agios Nikolaos): Tel. +30 27210 77210
Doctor – General practioner: Tel. +30 27210 77771
Dentist (Stoupa) Iro Barbetsea : Tel. +30 2721077684
Dentist (Kardamili) Komolis: Tel. +30 2721064160
Buses (Kalamata): Tel. +30 27210 28581
Airport (Kalamata):: Tel. +30 27220 45252
Lefktros Municipality (Kardamili): Tel. +30 2721073265
Sources: messinia-guide.gr, methoni-castle.gr, report24.gr, mani.org.gr, hikenow.net