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  • Niko Benas

August 18, 2023 - Pylos - Picturesque Nature Meets History

This summer it was decided to spend at least a week on a beach holiday in Greece.

The choice fell on Pylos in the south of the west coast of the Peloponnese peninsula.

In Pylos, the houses stretch like theatres, along wide staircases up the mountain

This historic port city is also known to many by its medieval name of Navarino. In the Bay of Navarino, in 1827, the last major naval battle involving exclusively sailing ships took place, in which a fleet of English, French and Russian ships destroyed 55 of the 82 ships of the Turkish Navy in four hours of fierce fighting. In this historic battle, Greece gained its independence from the Turks after years of rebellion.

View of Pylos Marina at sunrise

The Bay of Navarino is well protected by the offshore elongated island of Sphaktiria and offers a safe anchorage for the numerous passing sailing ships and luxury yachts. On the island you can find several monuments to victors and victims of the famous naval battle.

Sunset over the Bay of Navarino and the long rocky island of Sphaktiria

Pylos and its surroundings are not lacking in natural attractions. Besides the picturesque beaches, promenades and restaurants, you can visit some sights and get better acquainted with the history of the city.

Evening mood on the harbor promenade of Pylos

On the north side of Navarino Bay is Golden Beach, also known as Divari Beach. The more than 1 kilometer long sandy beach is located on the tongue of land between the Bay of Navarino and the Divari Lagoon and guarantees a comfortable bathing holiday.

Hike to Palaiokastro Fortress

Arrived at the end of the beach and equipped with sturdy shoes and drinking supplies, we climbed to Palaiokastro (Old Fort) which was built by the Franks and later taken by the Turks.

The ruins of this 13th-century fort have now been left to decay.

View of the Navarino Bay from the Palaiokastro

The fortifications were left to decay

Once at the top, you can enjoy an enchanting distant view of Navarino Bay to the south and a beautiful view of Oxbelly Bay (Kolpos Voidhokilia) to the north.

Fantastic view of the famous Voidokilia Bay and the Gialova Lagoon

With its almost circular shape, the bay is one of the most famous beaches in Messenia and offers the finest sandy beach and crystal-clear turquoise water. During the adventurous, impassable to steep descent from the castle ruins to the bay, we were then able to take a look at the famous Nestor Cave.

Nestor's Cave is shrouded in many amazing legends

This wonderful ancient cave is shrouded in many amazing legends. According to one of them, this is the cave where Hermes used a trick to hide 50 cows stolen by Apollo. It is of great research interest due to the many prehistoric finds that have been discovered here. Research has shown that it has been inhabited since the late Neolithic period (3500 to 2800 BC).

The Nestor Cave: Ancient cult and settlement site with a panoramic view of the Voidokilia Bay

Another attraction in Messinia is the village Methoni, situated on the tip of the westernmost part of the Peloponnese. The settlement is famous for the historic Methoni Castle. The castle complex, which is still well preserved and imposing due to its size, was built by the Venetians in the 13th century after the pirates living in this region were driven out and served as an important base for shipping to the "Holy Land".

The historic Castle of Methoni

From about 1500 AD the fortress of Methoni was conquered by the Turks, who were able to hold their ground here for more than 300 years. In 1828 the fortress then fell to the French, who handed it over to the Greeks a short time later.

The still fairly well-preserved and partly revitalized castle complex always invites you to visit

On the last day of vacation and on the way back to Kalamata airport, we visited the Polylimnio waterfalls near Kazarma, an exotic green oasis in the middle of the Peloponnesian nature, which is considered a true insider tip of the peninsula.

A green exotic oasis in the middle of Peloponnesian nature

The blue-green hues and clarity of the water are more than impressive, one of the greatest scenic attractions in the Peloponnese and unique in all of Greece.

Impressive blue-green colors and clear water

You should definitely bring sturdy shoes and a bit of adventure, because the approximately 1-hour tour along numerous smaller waterfalls and seven lakes can get a bit slippery and steep.

However, the plentiful and enticing bathing opportunities are a great escape from the Greek heat.

Plenty of existing and enticing bathing opportunities

We were allowed to experience and admire a summer week at its finest: beautiful sandy beaches, picturesque fishing villages, endless olive groves, coastal and mountain paths with breathtaking views. And behind it: ancient civilizations, Mycenaean palaces and the nature reserve of the Gialova Lagoon, the only one of its kind in Greece. Hiking in Palaiokastro, walking along the ruins of Neokastro Castle in Pylos and in Methoni Castle. There is so much more to discover in the Peloponnese...

Evening view of Sphaktiria island; to the left of it is the small island of Fanari, a place that is very important to me personally


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