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General Information for Messenia

Messenia Extended seashores, picturesque bays, endless sandy beaches, verdant towering villages, mild climate, castles, monasteries, fertile prairies and evergreen hills charactarize this part of the Peloponnese. At the recess of the Messinian Bay the capital, Kalamata, with classical houses the immense sandy beaches - although repeatedly hit by powerful earthquakes - retains the charm of a noble town. Below the fortress (Kastro), lies the old town. A very picturesque site. Kalamata, near the ancient city Pharai which was first mentioned by Homer began its activity during the Byzantine period.The 13th century Kastro, that looms over the town, offers an impressive view and on a clear day one can see - besides the Gulf of Kalamata and the fertile Messinian valley - Cape Akritas and the commanding Mt. Taygetos range. The Kastro is also the setting for the summer festival where cultural events, concerts and ancient dramas are presented. There are two notable museums: the Archeological Museum (at the Benaki Mansion) and the Folklore Museum. The Convent of St Constantine (the Nuns' Convent) - on the slopes below the Kastro - is famous for its woven silks (mostly cottons and linens now) and embroideries done by the nuns. Beautiful sandy beaches from Mani towards Kalamata are: Avia, Almirou cove, Akroghiali, Karthamili, Stoupa and Aghios Nikolaos.

Stoupa (previously Lefktron) has been transformed from a fishing village to a vacation resort for the eclectic traveller who is looking for wonderful unpoiled spots.

Three beautiful beaches give it a special character they are: Kaloghria (its uniqueness lies on her golden sand), Stoupa and Halikoura. You will undoubtedly enjoy swimming there. There are many hotels and restaurants built to respond to the increasing numbers of tourists. July and August are the busiest months since many package-tour companies storm the area (avoid those months, if you can).

Methoni today is a lovely seaside town, in antiquity it was one of the most significant harbors. The magnificent 13th-century citadel is built - unlike other fortresses - on a promontory in the south west Peloponnese. It was built by the Venetians in 514 and in 1828 again by the French.

This fortification is regarded as the biggest and the best preserved. It is surrounded on three sides by sea and it is separated from land by a moat. In order to go to the fortress you cross a stone bridge with fourteen arches. In order to explore this splendid fortification thoroughly you should allow at least 4 to 5 hours. The site is open from Monday through Saturday from 8am to 7pm, Sundays till 6pm free admission.

Under the fortress there is a lovely sandy beach and just across is a little island Sapientza.

Lagatha Pass. If you took the Mani route to Kalamata you should return to Sparta through Lagatha one of the most incredible routes of Greece. Enjoy going through curves, turns and twists cutting through Mt Taygetos, drive cautiously, however, you might have to stop ubruptly. You may encounter people selling fresh fruit, Kalamata olives, honey or any other product, without forewarning. Descending its highest point (5,000 ft), through the Lagatha ravine you pass Trypi (north to the ravine) where Kaeathas is located.

Kaeathas is the place where the ancient Spartans threw their sickly children to avoid having a weak society. This is naturally the route back to Sparta but if your tour includes the nome Elias (Olympia), continue your journey from Kalamata to Kiparissia, Zaharo, Pyrgos, Olympia.