EXPLORE THE CASTLES OF MEDIEVAL PELOPONNESE
In this six-day tour we present you the most famous and well-preserved Greek castles that should not be missed. Most of these castles were built in the Medieval or the Byzantine times by the Venetians. Their architecture is impressive as they were made of large stones and were fortified with lots of canons and weapons. They were usually built for protection from invasions of the enemies or attack from the pirates. That is why they are found either on top of a hill, so that the residents could overlook the whole area, or close to the port, to protect the entrance of the town.
Departure from Athens airport, driving southwest to Corinth canal, which merges the Aegean with the Ionian Sea. After a short stop for pictures, we will continue with a few minutes drive to Ancient Corinth where we’ll visit the archaeological site, with the unique monolithic Temple of Apollo (one of the oldest in Greece, 585 B.C.) the Bema where St. Paul preached and the Archaeological Museum of Corinth.
Our next stop is to be the largest fortress in the Peloponnese and one of the most important in the region, strategically situated on a 575m high rock., at the entrance to the Morea, the castle of Acrocorinth. A superb natural acropolis, Acrocorinth was first fortified by the ancient Greeks. Everyone who came later — the Byzantines, Franks, Venetians, and Turks — added to the original walls. Today, there are three courses of outer walls; massive gates with towers; and a jumble of ruined houses, churches, and barracks.
Continue the trip to Nafplio, the first capital of modern Greece. Here we are going to visit the Palamidi, an impressive, huge, well-maintained and probably the best castle in Greece and the finest sample of the Venetian fortifications in Greece. It was built in 1714 by the Venetians, within the record time of 3 years during their second occupation of the area (1686-1715). Later on, it was used as a prison for a while. There are 999 stairs that connect Palamidi castle to the centre of Nafplio.
Free afternoon for walking around the old town of Nafplio or we can visit the Nafplio Gallery of Art with paintings of famous Greek artists dedicated to the Greek revolution. Dinner at a traditional restaurant. Overnight.
During our second day we will first visit the unique Museum of Olive Oil of Sparta, a great Museum showing the unique history of olive production in Greece. We continue to the nearby glory Byzantine town of Mystras and let yourself be captivated by this destination’s medieval splendour. This Medieval castle was built in 1204 by William de Villeyardouin, a Frankish noble who had occupied the Peloponnese. Soon, the castle was surrendered to the Byzantines and Mystras turned into the second most important city of the Byzantine Empire, after Constantinople. Within the walls of Mystras, you can visit many Byzantine churches with great architectural style and beautiful frescoes. The castle is not inhabited today and has been declared by UNESCO as a Monument of World Heritage.
Today Mystras is by far the most important Byzantine monument in Greece. Lunch
Free time to explore the city of Sparta. Broad streets full of trees, large squares, neoclassical buildings and nice hotels, scented by the olive,orange and lemon trees of the nearby valley of the Eurotas River: this is Sparta! Overnight.
After breakfast, depart from Sparta and travel to beautiful Monemvasia.,a rocky islet connected to the Laconian coast by a bridge. Here we’ll enjoy a unique walking tour through the meandrous narrow streets of the old town, the fortress walls and the churches, to bring back to life the course of the mythical castle-town throughout the centuries.
Its name derives from two Greek words, mone and emvassi, meaning “single entrance”. It was called Malmsey by old English writers, Napoli de Malvasia by the Venetians and Malvoisie by the French.The Byzantines, the Venetians, the Ottomans, merchants from the West and the East, passed by Monemvasia leaving their marks on the buildings, the paved streets and the churches, giving it a cosmopolitan air.
We will get acquainted with the wealth, the power and the glory of the town, as well as the invasions, piracy and the difficulties of the life on the rock.
Gazing at Myrtoo Sea below the imposing rock, we will relive the stories and the legends, listen to poems written about this place, take a taste of magical Monemvasia. Lunch in a beautiful, picturesque restaurant in Monemvasia.
Free time to explore by yourselves one of the most beautiful cities of Greece. Overnight
During our fourth day, we will first visit the city of Kalamata the second-largest city of the Peloponnese in southern Greece. The capital and chief port of the Messenia prefecture, it lies along the Nedon River at the head of the Messenian Gulf. After its liberation from the Turks, it developed to a rich urban center and important port because of the goods produced in its fruitful land (olive oil, raisins, figs etc.). Nowadays, it is a very charming city of 50.000 inhabitants. Free time in the city center.
Then, we are going to visit Methoni, -actually a fortified city- one of the most important and the most beautiful castle in Greece. It was built by the Venetians after 1209 at a strategic location, on a rock penetrating the sea and is separated from the land by an artificial moat. It has seven entrances and many constructions are included inside the walls, such as churches, ottoman baths and a ruined mosque. Surrounded on three sides by sea, there is a small fort, Broutzi, connected to the main castle connected to the main castle with an artificial stone bridge. Lunch.
Our next stop during this day will be the city of Pylos, a place with sun, sea, and friendly people with a considerable history. The little town is built amphitheatrically between and on-top of two hills, on the southern side of the Navarino bay.Free time to visit the important sites of the town( typical Greek architecture, the centuries old plane-tree lined main square, the monument to the naval battle of Navarino etc).Overnight
After breakfast we will visit the famous castle of Pylos ,Neokastro, that dominates the town, built by the Turks in 1573 to control the southern—at that time, the only—entrance to Pylos bay (an artificial embankment had drastically reduced the depth of the northern channel). Neokastro’s well-preserved walls enclose the Church of the Transfiguration (a former mosque); cannons; and two anchors from the battle. The highest point of the castle is guarded by a hexagonal fort flanked by towers. After the liberation of Greece (during the 2nd World War) the castle was, for many years, used as prison, until finally being handed over to the Archaeological Service.
Early in the afternoon arrival in Athens. Check in at your hotel and following the principal avenues and passing by the Temple of Olympian Zeus, National Garden, Parliament, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, National Library, Old Parliament we arrive at Plaka. Short pleasant walk through the old unique Athens city to one of the popular taverns for dinner with live bouzouki music and Greek folk dances. Overnight