Points of Interest
Diros cave and museum
The caves are among the most important natural sites in Greece and with great archaeological significance. The cave of Diros comprises individual caves; Glyfada, Alepotrypa and Katafygi have their own particular value. Over two-million-year-old fossilized animals were discovered at the cave of Glyfada or Vlychada. It is a splendid lake cave, one of the most beautiful in the world.
The island lies just off the south eastern tip of Peloponnesus - Lakonia Gulf across from Neapolis and just 350m at its northernmost tip. Exotic in its bays and its endless beaches with their dunes and cedar trees, but also traditional in its genuine Greek island character.
A picturesque fishing village with nice beaches and great taverns, the beach of Elea, is one of the most beautiful of Peloponnesus.
This delta is found in the area between the central Mani peninsula and the to one to its east, much visited for its historic site of Monemvasia. A designated European Natura 2000 site, it is the largest remaining wetland in the southern Peloponnese, which has been much reduced in size and fragmented by the ususual culprit of draining for cultivation and building, but still an important site for migratory birds, for breeding loggerhead turtles, and for many wetland animals and plants. It covers an area of about 7410 acres (3000 hectares) and is comprised of reed beds, salt marshes, sand dunes, seasonal and permanent lagoons, ditches. South of Skala on the Leimonas road there's an excellent information center, with roads heading south from there among the good access roads to the site. A major effort is made to protect the loggerhead turtles, which tend to hide themselves in inaccessible places along the bay. Green turtles are often seen here offshore, along with porpoises and dolphins. Some 210 species of birds have been recorded here including waders, birds of prey (the Imperial and spotted eagles among them), herons, little bitterns and many others. There are also breeding birds. In spring, there are many flowers on the dunes and beaches, including Leimonas beach dunes and Trinisia beach, and also around the delta, with many orchids, and several kinds of cistus. Mammals include some jackals, badgers, foxes, beech martens, and others; terrapins and water snakes are numerous in the rivers; dragonflies are found throughout the area.
A small hamlet where the sea water cuts through the steep mountains from all sides and enters into a small port. There you will find a picturesque fishing village with an ancient acropolis of the Mycenaean period.
Today visitors can wonder through the narrow streets, the stone houses and arched courtyards, enjoy the stone-paved town square with its traditional cafes and tavernas, view the unique sight of the Laconic Province and gaze at the mountain range of Taygetos and the Laconic gulf. You can visit the ruins of the Acropolis, climb to the medieval castle and the ruins and relive the legends and traditions of the past. Study the architecture of the 30 byzantine churches, dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries and through their rare frescoes arrive at a spiritual elevation.
Archaeological finds prove the existence of a settlement dating from the Neolithic period (4000 B.C). The Doric tribes, which descended to Laconia and settled in Sparta, occupied Geronthrae in the time of King Teleklos. In ancient times, the town developed and even retained some independence from neighboring Sparta. Geronthrae came to be called Geraki possibly in the Byzantine period. The present day Geraki is among the very few Greek villages that have retained their population.
Sparta's ancient port, is the gateway to the dramatic Mani peninsula, and one of the south's most attractive seaside towns. It was destroyed in 455 B.C. by Athenians, but Spartans rebuilt it again. In 195 A.D. occupied by Romans. Out to the sea, tethered by a long narrow mole, is the islet Marathonisi, ancient Kranae, where Paris of Troy, having abducted Helen from Menelaus' palace at Sparta, dropped anchor, and where the lovers spent their first night. Paris forgot his helmet on the islet as he was leaving an incident which gave it its name (helmet = kranos in Greek). Opposite the island in the Migonion, an open market with Oriental traders in what was a suburb of the ancient town, there was a sanctuary to Aphrodite Migonitis, founded by the Phoenicians. Ten kilometres south-west of Gythio, the traveller returns to the medieval times. At a strategic position on the top of a hill rises the Frankish fortress of Passavas, built by the Baron de Neuilly in 1254. The appellation derives from the French military expression 'passe avant', ie., go first, move up. For swimming, there are a number of coves within reach of Gythio. The beaches at Mavrovouni and Vathy claim to be the best.
It is a traditional village with long history, situated on the place of the ancient city as mentioned by Homer. The Church of Saint George and the Monastery of Dekoulon with frescoes since the 18th century, are worth a visit. Not far away from Itilo (2 Km) is Neo Oitilo, next to Limeni bay with a beautiful beach.
A beautiful picturesque coastal village south east of Sparta. Three amazing stretches of beach with crystal waters create three coves that have made the area recently a popular resort.
The island is a calm refuge situated at the foot of Peloponnesus. The 284 square kilometer island has beautiful beaches, Byzantine castles and churches. Unlike other islands in the Aegean the island is very green and lush in part due to its proximity to the Ionian Sea. The village of Paleochora was the medieval capital of the island, built in 12th century and destroyed 1537 from the pirate Barbarosa.
Where Maleas projects into the sea, there is monument of nature of world importance: the famous petrified forest which stands near the sea and impresses the visitor with tree trunks millions of years old. The ground in which they stand is made up of a vast number of fossilised shells which create a kind of natural mosaic.
It stretches from Gythio to Cape Tainaro the mythical entrance to the underworld. It is a wild landscape and maybe nowhere in Greece does a region seem so close to its medieval past. It is a distinct place with ledgends and traditions, nothing similar all over the world. The Towers of Mani are military hallmarks of a glorious era. These fortifications are an expression of the fighting spirit of the region and are to be found allover Mani. The first fortification towers in the architectural history of Mani appear in the second half of the 13th century. When the Byzantines took Mystras and Nikli of Arcadia, many Frank officials settled in the regions of Koitas and Nomia and built their fortifications. Tower forts were also built by the Maniates soldiers returning from the West, where they had taken part in the wars of the Venetians. The towers are definitely established as a local means of defense in the region in the era of Ottoman occupation, when they take their final form, radically changing the architectural scene of Mani and setting it apart from the rest of Greece.
Monemvassia is one of the most beautiful medieval castle towns in Greece keeping its traditional architecture and color. It is situated in a rocky island that is connected to the mainland by a bridge thus giving its Greek name which means access from a single point. The town is inhabited today and the buildings have been restored. There are many important monuments in the castle town including the church of Christ Helkomenos, the Moslem mosque, church of Panaghia Myrtidiotissa and is the place of birth of the Greek poet Giannis Ritsos.
The Byzantine city-state occupies a steep foothill on the northern slopes of Mt. Taygetos. The castle on the top of the hill was founded in 1249 by the Frankish leader William II de Villeharduin. The whole of Mystras is an open-air museum. A reminder of glorious era of power and culture. 5 km northwest of Sparta, Mystras makes you feel that time has stopped. Its fortresses, its churches, its mansions and palaces preserve their glory and are representative of the Byzantine grandeur and civilization. Mystras has been commanding Peloponnese for over two centuries. It was built during the period of the Frankish domination, in 1249 by Villehardouin II, on the top of the eponymous hill. But captured Villehardouin was forced to concede it to Michael Palaeologus in return for his release. Mystras gradually expanded and this is why it has two rows of walls. In the 14th century, it became the capital of Peloponnese and the seat of the Despotate of Morea. Manuel Cantacuzenus, son of Ioannis Katakouzinos, was the first despot of Mystras. Despite constant threats, Mystras thrived and became a centre of culture. George Gemistos Plethon founded a school of philosophy at Mystras. In 1449 this castle city hosted the coronation of Constantinos Palaeologus who later participated in battles which led to the fall of the Byzantine Empire.
In the Municipality of Asopos Laconia stands the wonderful beach of Plytra (named Pachiammos) a long golden beach. In Plytra you find great fish taverns around the central port. The remnants of sunken city of Ancient Asopos at the district of Plytra have great archaeological interest and constitute one more reason to visit Plytra.
Is in the north part of the Prefecture of Laconia and it is its commercial and administrative centre. Being the capital city of the Prefecture of Laconia, it's a modern city with well laid-out streets, built near the riverside of Eurotas river, at the same site as the old city of Sparta. It's the centre of economy and trade of the bassin that spreads from the descent of the arcadian mountains (Sellassia region) , between Taygetus and Parnon to the Laconian bay.The ancient city was abandoned after the raids of the hordes of the Goths and Alaric (4th century), but mostly after the building of Mystras (5klm. westwards) during the Frankish domination (in the middle of the 13th century). It was built since 1834, when the residents of Mystras began to descend to the age-long cradle of the Spartan spirit.
- The ruins of the ancient city's acropolis, the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia (6th century B.C.) and the Menelaion sanctuary. Kaiadas is, according to tradition, At the village Trypi, 8 klm. westwards, towards Taygetus.
- The ruins of the sanctuary of Apollo, about 6 klm. south, at the site of the ancient Achaean city of Amycles. One could see many finds from the archaeological excavations of the area in the archaeological museum of Sparta.
- The Archaeological museum of Sparta in a building designed by the Danish architect Christiansen Hansen. Many unique treasures of the ancient city of Sparta as well as other treasures brought to light by the excavations of Sparta and those of the area are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Sparta.
- The Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil is located at Sparta, at the heart of Laconia which is one of the most important regions producing olive oil in Greece. You can go back in time and see interesting collections dating back to prehistoric times and showing the contribution of olive and olive oil to economy and everyday life, in all stages of our civilization.
A kilometre and a half to the south-east of the village of Aghios Georgios, opposite the Elaphonisos island, is Strongyli Limni (the Round Lake), which is an important biotope. This is a lagoon, and is continued along the seashore with two other smaller lakes, Manganos and Nerantzionas. Around the lake, on the side towards the sea, there are chamber tombs of the prehistoric period, and in the depths of the sea, in front of the seashore with the tombs, opposite the Pavlopetri islet, is a whole prehistoric town. This was discovered in 1968 and became known world-wide after research by the Institute of Oceanography of the University of Cambridge. The lake is now a recognised wetland and has been included in the European Union's NATURA 2000 programme. The flora around the lake and on Elaphonisos is of importance and includes a rare and threatened species of cedar. It should be added that in the Vatika area, three plant species unique in the world were found by the distinguished botanist Constantinos Goulimis: the Goulimis tulip, flax Hellenica, and the Linum leucanthemum thyme, with purple or red leaves. The Caretta-caretta turtle is a frequent visitor to the sandy beaches.