Making Memories in Messinia
In every corner of Greece there are destinations of exceptional beauty; picturesque with great landscapes, historic monuments and warm-hearted people who offer visitors a unique experience. Messinia is one of these exquisite places; it will warm your heart, soothe your soul and leave you with incredible memories…Messinia, which lies on the southwestern corner of the Peloponnese, has a history that dates back thousands of years (the boundaries of the prefecture were established in 371 BC after the fall of the Spartan domination). A rare combination of land and sea (it is a coastal region which lies on the slopes of the Taygetos Mountain), Messinia truly stands out.
Upon arrival, you will immediately realize that this place is beyond comparison and words. Messinia is like a Greek nymph who lures you in with her beauty and charm, mesmerizing with her hidden treasures and leaving you longing to return whenever possible. I know this to be true, because year after year (for 20 years!) I have come back to this magical place, eager to make new memories and uncover her countless mysteries!
History enthusiasts will be intrigued exploring Messinia in depth, but be sure to spend a bit of time, as its wealth of historic monuments cannot be admired in just a short visit! While the Ancient Theatre of Messini, Nestor’s Palace and the Castles in Koroni and Methoni are among the most popular sights; visitors would be surprised by the number of ancient ruins, tombs and monuments that can be found in even the most remote village of the region. As a matter of fact, a tour around the villages of Diodia, Kaplani, Vassiliko, Antheia and Koukounara offer visitors an extensive view to the historic aspect of Messinia and the chance to admire the dense vegetation and landscape of lesser-known destinations.
Adventure seekers are sure to become infatuated with the Messinian landscape. The gorge of Polilimnio is ideal for a two-mile hiking adventure that climaxes upon your arrival at the waterfall of Khadi. Take a break after the day’s exploration and reinvigorate with a swim in the cool waters of Lake Mavrolimna!
Sea lovers, take up your paddle and kayak the Messinian waters for the experience of a lifetime! Secluded beaches, where the sea turtles lay their eggs, and emerald green waters are only accessible by kayak or boat; a good reason to try water sports! A few miles from Koroni is the beach of Tsapi, a popular camping spot where you can disconnect from technology (there’s no mobile signal!) and connect with nature. There are two small taverns to choose from for convenient dining, but for the most part, the sea and mountains are your surroundings!
In the coastal village of Finikounta, popular kayak destinations include the beaches of Marathi and Kantouni. From the coast of Methoni, organized kayaking trips take visitors to the uninhabited island of Sapientza, which is home to rare fauna and flora species (Natura 2000 network). Don’t forget to dive into the beautiful waters of the Messinian Gulf, and be sure to have a camera for the most incredible underwater memories!
Messinia offers history, sightseeing and sporting activities, but it is also a famous culinary destination. The fertile land on the southwestern corner of the Peloponnese is home of the popular Kalamata olive oil, table olives and orange trees. It is a must for visitors to sample local cuisine, like sausage with orange peel, gourounopoula (roast pork) and Pasto (smoked pork). Seafood lovers will not be disappointed as fresh fish is always on the menu. Tasting the traditional dessert of the region, diples (thin, fried dough topped with honey and nuts) will take a visitor’s culinary experience to another level!
If you find yourself in Messinia during the 15th of August, don’t forget to go to a panygiri (religious festival). There is always gourounopoula and cold beer on the table, people enjoy themselves and dance to the rhythm of the traditional kalamatiano dance. The most popular panygiria are organized at the villages of Petalidi and Kallithea.
Messinia is a truly blessed region of Greece, catering to all the tastes, needs and desires of its visitors. The towns and villages of the prefecture are of unique beauty and charm, just like their capital, Kalamata! Have a walk along the Aristomenous square at the old town and try the famous Athanasiou ice cream flavors. Finish your day with a drink at the northernmost district of Kalamata, Verga, wherean old castle now functions as a bar, offering a breathtaking view to the entire city!
So much to see, so much to do and experience! See and explore it all, and make wonderful memories of your own!
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