Peloponnese, also known as Morea, is a very large island immediately to the south of Athens which is separated from the mainland by the narrow Gulf of Corinth (a.k.a the Corinth Canal.) This highly varied island/peninsula location contains Greece’s richest olive tree plantations in its interior, while its seaward side borders beautiful islands both on the Aegean and Ionian coasts, from where ferry boat passage to Italy is possible. The breathtaking 2004 Rio-Antirio bridge near the town of Patras (the world’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridge) and the crossing at the Corinth Canal physically connect Peloponnese to mainland Greece.
The mountainous interior (highest point: Mount Taygetus, 2 409 m), coupled to the dramatic coastline and many historic and architecturally fascinating cities, towns and other locations, make Peloponnese worthy of at least one week’s car touring. Car hire from Athens and a circular tour of the Peloponnese are highly recommended.
Places of interest to visit include some of the cities. Patras (215 kilometres west of Athens) at the foothills of Mount Panachaikon has a lively port and University and, in February, a huge and colourful carnival. Kalamata along the Nedon river and near the ancient city of Pharai is a major port renowned for its unique dances, silk kerchiefs, probably the tastiest olives in the world and honey-covered sesame sweets known as pasteli.
The historic seaport town of Nafplion by the Argolic Gulf is also known as Napoli di Romania, due to its historic occupation by the Byzantine Empire. Franks, Venetians, and Ottomans also added to Nafplion’s amazing fortifications, with Palamidi, a castle constructed by Venetians during the 17th century, a must-visit. The 7000 year old settlement of Argos, about 11km from Nafplion is very well preserved and home to many ancient monuments.
Modern Tripolis in central Peloponnese was created near the ruins of three ancient cities around 1770. It became the scene of vicious and bloody battles during the 1821-8 Greek war of Independence with the ‘Siege of Tripolitsa’ made famous in a popular folk song.
Pyrgos (Tower) in western Peloponnese near the Alfeios river is both historically interesting and an excellent, well connected transport centre for day trips to the main locations in the Peloponnese, Athens and beyond.
The Romanou beach by a small town north of Pilos, the beautiful beach in Gythio, Kalo Nero on the west coast of the Peloponnese and the three lovely beaches in Finikounda are some highly recommended sun traps set in beautiful locations.
Some other unique sights in the Peloponnese include Vathia, a picturesque very old village near Sparta, the ship wreck on the beautiful beach by Githio, the Fortress of Pylos in the Bay of Navarino in Messinia, the medieval fortress ruins of Monemvasia in Laconia, the Venetian Methoni castle and the Diros caves near Mani.
Posted : Friday, September 9th, 2011 at 11:00
As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save