Category: Greece mainland villages & towns (page 1 of 6)

A visit to Androusa Castle

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Androusa Castle aerial view

Androusa Castle aerial view

Aerial views of the remaining walls of Androusa Castle in Messenia. The images are from an on-site information plaque that describes the features and history of the ancient castle, as well as recent restoration work by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Messenia.

 

First fortress:  On Day 2 of our May 2017 holiday in the Peloponnese, we drove south from Ancient Messini, where we passed vast groves of olive trees and several small settlements before stopping at the village of Androusa to see the first of several castle ruins on our list of attractions to visit.

As I noted in my earlier post Our 4-day road trip in the western Peloponnese, the village is home to Androusa Castle, a fortress built by the Franks in the middle of the 13th Century.  It was a significant military stronghold for the Kalamata region for several hundred years, after which the castle became an important administrative center. But just as the need for a fortification in the area declined, so did maintenance of the castle, which eventually crumbled and lay in a state of neglected ruins from the early 18th Century.

In early 2012, the Ephorate of Antiquities of Messenia launched a €550,000 project to restore parts of the castle’s eastern curtain walls and repair its few standing towers. The work was completed in 2015.

 

 

There isn’t much on the site apart from the rehabilitated wall sections and towers, and a few small stone buildings, so it doesn’t take long to walk around the grounds and see all that’s there — including lovely panoramic views of the lush green landscape that extends to the Messenian Gulf. If you’re travelling in the area and happen to be passing through Androusa or close by, you might find it interesting to stop for a quick look, as we did. But unless you’re a huge fan of castles, I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see it. Within reasonable driving distance you’ll find several immense and largely intact fortresses that are much more worthwhile to visit, including the Neokastro at Pylos and the Methoni castle at Methoni.

On page 2 of this post, you can view our photos of Androusa Castle. If you’d like to see or learn more about the fortress, check out these links:

♦ the Castle of Androusa page on Kastrologos — Castles in Greece;

♦ the Castles page on Picturesque Peloponnese (you’ll have to scroll about two-thirds of the way down the page to view the Androusa section); and

♦ the Androusa page on the Castles of Greece website operated by Andrew Sawyer.

 

Androusa Castle

Part of the restored eastern curtain wall and tower at Androusa Castle, which was built more than 700 years ago

 

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Top places to visit for a winter holiday in Greece

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Arachova Greece

The alpine town of Arachova in Central Greece, seen during our visit in June 2017. The website Greece Is has ranked Arachova one of the country’s Top 10 places to visit in wintertime 

 

Off season delights: Are you trying to pick a place to visit for a unique winter getaway? Have you considered going to Greece?

If you’re like many of the people reading this post, you probably picture Greece only as a summer destination, primarily because of the immense popularity of its world-famous beach-blessed islands.

However, Greece is more than just islands and beaches — it’s a year-round travel destination with activities and attractions that appeal to everyone, from outdoor sports enthusiasts, to foodies, to history buffs, nature lovers and more.

As for what makes Greece special during the off-season winter months, here’s a nicely succinct description by one of my favourite food, culture and travel publications,  Greece Is:

“Winter is the time to swap the sandals for hiking boots, and the cold beachside beer for a brandy or warm rakomelo by the fireplace. Hearty, slow-cooked stews replace light summertime salads, and a whole host of different seasonal products begin to appear: wild mushrooms, juicy oranges, fat chestnuts. This is a time to experience a different sort of Greece – one of rivers, mountains and glorious natural landscapes as yet undiscovered by mass tourism. One that is emptier, wilder but also comforting in its own way, insulated from the rush and chaos of the modern world.” 

Although there are scores of places in Greece that would be wonderful to visit in the off-season, Greece Is compiled this list of The Top 10 places to visit in Greece in winter:

♦ Zagori

♦  Arachova

♦  Kalavryta

♦  Meteora

♦  Tzoumerka

♦  Metsovo

♦  Loutraki – Pella

♦  the mountains of Corinth

♦  Pilio (also known as Pelion), and

♦  the mountains of Arcadia

What I particularly like about the Greece Is Top 10 list is that it includes descriptions of each destination or area, and outlines the winter activities that are most appealing at each place. The listing also includes links to additional insightful articles and practical information about each location, as well as photo galleries. I found it a great starting-point for researching a trip to Greece not only in winter (though that’s the focus of the ranking), but really for any time of year — all the destinations would be marvellous to visit in spring, summer or fall, as well.

To get some Greece travel inspiration for yourself, click here to read the full article.

 

 

Greece 2017: Our 4-day road trip in the western Peloponnese

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Voidokilia beach

Omega-shaped Voidokilia, in the western Peloponnese, was one of many beautiful beaches that took our breath away in 2017

 

All-new experiences: Two trips to Greece in 2017 gave us opportunities to expand our horizons and see diverse regions we had never visited before, including parts of the Peloponnese, one of the Ionian islands, Central Greece and southwestern Crete.

Our first vacation, from May 22 to June 7,  gave us impressive introductions to the western Peloponnese, Kefalonia, and Central Greece. The second holiday, from October 19 to November 6, took us along the spectacular southwestern coast of Crete.

With the exception of our arrival and departure days in Athens, plus a 4-night stay in Chania (which we had seen briefly during our first trip to Crete in 2004), every place and region on our itinerary was completely new to us, offering a tremendous variety of first-time experiences for accommodations, activities, dining and sightseeing.

Our travels took us to several spots we would absolutely love to revisit, along with many more we would be happy to see a second time if we find ourselves in the area once again. As for the few places that didn’t quite catch our fancy, our mixed feelings were simply due to the time of season we happened to be there — now we know when to return to enjoy them better. Happily, there wasn’t a single destination we disliked.  

 

 

Our spring vacation began with a  4.5-day road trip, with friends, through the Messenia and Elis regions of the southwest and northwest Peloponnese. We covered considerable ground in that time, moving at a much faster pace than we usually travel, but the goal was to give us a peek at a number of different places so we could find favourites to revisit for longer periods in future. After the Peloponnese segment of our holiday, a week-long visit to Kefalonia island and six days in Central Greece gave us time to relax and to comfortably explore towns and sites on foot rather than by car. 

On page 2 of this article, I have posted photos and brief descriptions of the main locations and key attractions we got to see during our car tour in the Peloponnese.  Pictures of the places we explored on Kefalonia and in Central Greece, and those we visited during our fall holiday on Crete, will appear in separate posts. Future articles will spotlight specific destinations in greater detail, and will profile hotels we stayed at and restaurants where we dined.

Please click on the link under the next photo to continue reading on page 2.

 

Kyparissia

Red-roofed houses in the attractive mountainside town of Kyparissia

 

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A journey above the scenic coasts of the southern Peloponnese

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Reflecting on Peloponnese, by Vimeo contributors Nestoras Kechagias and Athanasia Lykoudi, features aerial views of amazing coastal sites and scenery in the southern Peloponnese

 

Captivating coastlines: Two back-to-back trips have made us big fans of the Peloponnese, and its extensive, awe-inspiring coastlines in particular.

In 2016 we spent most of our time in the eastern Peloponnese, staying in the scenic seaside towns of Nafplio, Monemvasia, and Tolo, and driving along the beautiful coast in the Laconia region between Nafplio and Leonidio.

Much of this year’s trip took us to umpteen beautiful spots on the western Peloponnese seashore, including Pylos, Methoni, Voidokilia beach, Marathopoli, Kyparissia, Katakolo, Kyillini, Patras and many places in between.

It was an incredible visual feast of destinations, but it left us hungry for more. Luckily, there are many miles of spellbinding seasides we haven’t yet explored, including the southern Peloponnese coastline from the Mani peninsula all the way east to Elafonnisi island.

By chance, I found the film, Reflecting on the Peloponnese, shortly after returning home from our latest sojourn in Greece. With its captivating aerial views of such now-familiar places as Monemvasia, Methoni and Voidokilia, it instantly brought back vivid memories of our two most recent vacations. At the same time, it stirred our desire for another trip to the Peloponnese, so we can try to see the other fascinating sites shown in the video, including Kardamyli, Limeni, the Dimitrios shipwreck near Gytheio, Elafonissi, and more.

The film runs less than 3 minutes, but you’ll find it’s a wonderful aerial journey across an amazing part of the Peloponnese.

 

 

Captivated by Kavala

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Gregory Liotakis published this aerial drone film of Kavala in April

 

Aerial appeal: Up until the end of 2016, I was completely clueless about Kavala.

I had heard of it, and I knew it was a place in mainland Greece. But I didn’t know exactly where, and I would not have been able to tell you for certain if was a mountain village, a big town or a seaside resort. So of course I had no idea what it looked like or what was there.

That changed over the Christmas holiday season when storms dumped snow on many parts of Greece and I found photos and videos of Kavala while putting together two blog posts that I published in January — Greece in white winter glory, and Amazing winter wonderland scenes from Greece Part 2

Suddenly I was intrigued. Kavala looked quite appealing and attractive (and not just because it was dusted with crisp white snow.)  With a few quick Google searches, I learned that Kavala is a bustling port city of 57,000 residents in the region of eastern Macedonia and Thrace, and is considered one of Greece’s “prettiest” and “most picturesque” cities. Some websites described Kavala as a “gem” and a “jewel” often overlooked by tourists or simply not on the radar for most people visiting Greece.

 

 

Since I had shared an aerial video of Kavala here on the blog, links to other Kavala films have appeared frequently in the “Up Next” sidebar when I have opened the YouTube webpage.  Most have been aerial videos showing the city in warm weather months, and I have been impressed by the scenes of seafront, beaches, city squares and historic sites — including a castle and aqueduct.  As you can probably expect, Kavala has now earned a spot on my travel bucket list.

In case you’re planning a trip to the area,  or just wondering if it’s a place you would like to visit yourself, here are several Kavala videos that will help get you acquainted with the city.

 

Scenes from Kavala in a 2.5-minute film by JL Aerial

 

This nearly 3-minute long video by Aerial View shows the city’s historic castle and the impressive scenery it overlooks. 

 

This “official” video by kavalaDimofelia shows top historic sites and attractions and near Kavala 

 

This is a Kavala time lapse video published by Theo Kavala

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