Category: Messenia (page 1 of 4)

A Paris icon in the Peloponnese


Eiffel Tower in Filiatra

The 26-meter Eiffel Tower replica at Filiatra  was a surprising sight we encountered during our road trip in the Peloponnese


Oh Mon Dieu!:The most memorable “Stop the Car!” moment of our road trip through Messenia happened while we were driving through the small town of Filiatra, en route from Marathopoli to Kyparissia.

As the car moved along the clean, tidy streets, passing attractive stone houses and some cute small homes, we were chatting about where we might want to stay if we ever had an opportunity to spend all or part of a year in Greece. I remember commenting that Filiatra looked like a nice, comfortable and quiet place that might be suitable — based on what we were seeing through the car windows, at least.

Then we turned a corner and saw an Eiffel Tower looming up ahead.

 “What the … Is that what I think it is?” I blurted. “Pull over! We’ve got to check this out!”


Eiffel Tower in Filiatra

This Google Streetview image shows the Eiffel Tower replica in a wedge-shaped parkette at the northern entrance to Filiatra.


Whenever we’re on the road in Greece, we see a lot of surprising, interesting and exciting sights. However, most of the time it’s jaw-dropping scenery that suddenly pops into view, a picturesque church in the middle of nowhere, a crumbling castle or a beautiful old building, or a herd of sheep or goats gathered on the highway. We’ve seen plenty of unusual sights, too, but never anything like an Eiffel Tower — and we certainly weren’t expecting to see one on this particular morning. (It had not been mentioned in any of the travel materials I had read before our holiday.)

But there it was, rising from a landscaped parkette near the northern entrance to Filiatra on Highway 9.

We parked the car and got out for a few minutes to take photos, but it wasn’t until we were back home that I was able to do some online searching to find out why the town has a replica of the iconic Eiffel Tower.

Information was rather sparse or roughly translated in the sources I discovered, but most said the replica was the creation of Harry Fournier, (originally named Haris Fournarakis), who had grown up in the area but later moved to the USA to practise medicine as a surgeon. After a successful career in the States, Fournier returned to Filiatra and put his artistic talents to work, sculpting his mini Eiffel Tower in the 1960s. (He also built a fairytale castle in the nearby village of Agrili.)

Fournier’s creation isn’t a true replica, however, since its design differs in a few major details. As an article on the Wonders of the World points out, Fournier used light grey metal to construct the tower, which he shaped “a little too long.” Fournier also placed the second floor of his tower too low, compared to the original, and changed the shape of the third floor. But to a tourist driving by, Fournier’s version looks like a convincing, shorter copy of the real thing (his stands 26 meters, while the Paris landmark soars over 300 meters high).

 Here are some of the photos we took of the Filiatra Eiffel Tower:


Eiffel Tower replica in Filiatra


Eiffel Tower replica in Filiatra


Eiffel Tower replica in Filiatra


Eiffel Tower replica in Filiatra


Filiatra Greece

The small town of Filiatra is located roughly midway between Marathopoli (middle left) and Kyparissia (top left). If you’re driving through the area and want to take a look at the Eiffel Tower replica, you’ll find it at the northwest edge of the town along Highway 9.  You can’t miss it if you’re driving toward Filiatra from Kyparissia — the tower is visible from a distance outside the town.

Top beach, golf, diving and other outdoor activity attractions near Marathopoli


Proti Island

Located just one nautical mile from the town of Marathopoli in southwestern Messenia, Proti Island is a popular day trip destination for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, rock climbing, cliff jumping and trekking. This aerial photo of Proti Island is from the website for the Artina hotels in Marathopoli.


Lagouvardos, shown in this aerial video by Giannis Mpantes, is a long golden sand beach less than 3 kilometers from Marathopoli. It’s considered one of the top surfing spots in Greece, and also attracts enthusiasts of windsurfing, SUP, canoeing and other watersports. 


Surf’s up!: In a recent post I noted that the quiet, laid-back town of Marathopoli is an ideal base for travellers wishing to explore Methoni, Pylos, Navarino, Voidokilia and other popular places in the Messenian region of the southwestern Peloponnese. 

Even closer to the town are two noteworthy destinations that draw active travellers seeking scenic spots for outdoor sports activities such as swimming, surfing, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, rock climbing, trekking and fishing.

Uninhabited Proti Island, which dominates sea views from the town, is approximately one nautical mile away and can be accessed in summer on boat trips from Marathopoli harbour.  The tours take passengers to secluded coves, including Grammeno Bay,  and stop at picturesque Vourlia beach for sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling or jumping into the sea from rocks and ledges along the rugged coast. 


This aerial video of a boat trip to Vourlia beach on Proti island is from the website for Proti Cruises, which offers a variety of daily “mini cruise” excursions from Marathopoli


Proti Island monastery

The Monastery of the Assumption of Gorgopigi is one of the sights that hikers might encounter while walking some of the trails on Proti Island. This photo appears on the websites for Lagouvardos Apartments and other Marathopoli-area businesses.



Trekkers can explore Proti Island on three designated hiking routes, while rock climbers can test their skills on the challenging cliffs and coastal rock formations. Fishing trips and sunset tours also are available.

For those curious to see what lies beneath the waves, Ionian Dive Center offers scuba diving excursions to such island sites as the Anouar shipwreck in Vourlia Bay, the Tiganakia wall and cavern, the Blue Hole cavern with stalactites, Callens Valley and the  Beacon Cove.


This video by Ionian Dive Center will take you to the Blue Hole, one of the sights that scuba divers could explore during excursions to Proti Island


Lagouvardas beach

This photo from the official Marathopoli tourism website shows an aerial view of the long strip of golden sand at Lagouvardos beach


Lagouvardos Beach is only 3 kilometers from Marathopoli so it can easily be reached by car, bicycle or even walking. The Culture Trip website has included Lagouvardos on its list of The Best Surfing Spots in Greece, while travel publications and online guides regularly recommend the beach for windsurfing, stand up paddle boarding (SUP), swimming, canoeing and other watersports. Equipment rentals and lessons are available from the Beach Break surf club at Lagouvardos.

For beach lovers and watersports fans who don’t mind driving a little farther afield, some of Messenia’s most beautiful and world-famous beaches — including Vromoneri, Mati, Romanos, Golden Sands Divari, and the incomparable Voidokilia — are situated within a span of just 7 to 15 kilometers. 


Vromoneri Beach

Just 7 kilometers from Marathopoli is Vromoneri beach, seen in an image from


Located about 9 km from Marathopoli is gorgeous Mati beach, seen in this aerial video by KOABeach Pool Bar


Additionally, the Marathopoli area is ideal for bicycling and mountain biking, while two globally renowned 18-hole courses at nearby Costa Navarino offer golfers the opportunity to tee off in spectacular settings.


Dunes Golf Course at Navarino

Award-winning world-class links await golf enthusiasts at Costa Navarino, just 13 km from Marathopoli. The green pictured above is on The Dunes Course, while the one below is on The Bay Course. Both images are from the Costa Navarino Facebook page.


Bay Course golf course at Navarino

More stunning photos and extensive information about the two golf resorts can be found in the golf section of the Costa Navarino website.

Two nights in Marathopoli: Where we ate and slept


Artina Hotel & Artina Nuovo Hotel Marathopoli

We enjoyed our spacious, comfortable rooms at the Artina Hotel, seen here in an aerial image shared on Google by Nikos Tsiak


Panorama Fish Tavern Restaurant in Marathopoli

On our first night in Marathopoli, we had dinner on this seaview patio at Panorama Fish Tavern Restaurant …


Artoinos Μεζεδοπωλείο Marathopoli

 … while the next night, we enjoyed mezes at Artoinos Μεζεδοπωλείο, seen in a photo from its Facebook page


Great food & accommodations: We ate well and slept well during our brief 2-night stay in the small seaside town of Marathopoli last spring.  Our only disappointment? Not having more time to enjoy our lovely hotel room longer, or to try other restaurants besides the two where we had delicious dinners.

As I mentioned in my March 20 2018 post describing Marathopoli, we had chosen to base ourselves in the town so we could easily access top sites and attractions in Messenia during our road trip through the region. 

Though Marathopoli has fewer than 700 residents, it has a surprising variety of accommodation options, ranging from a budget-friendly campground to 2-star hotels, studio apartments, and luxury suite hotels. Choices include:

♦ the 15-room Hotel Rania (shown as Rania Apartments on Google Maps);

♦ the two-star Porto Marathos, a 33-room property with single, double and triple rooms, as well as four apartments;

♦  Artina Hotel and Artina Hotel Nuovo, two connected hotel buildings with apartment-style suites and a shared swimming pool, breakfast room, and gym;

♦  Megalos Kampos Hotel & Resort, a property offering four large studio apartments and two maisonettes;

♦  Pefkides, a complex of five separate luxury apartment residences that share a large garden area and a swimming pool; 

♦  Agrikies Country Retreat, a complex of four maisonette guest houses that can accommodate up to 5 persons each;

♦  Camping Proti, a full-service campground with spaces for tents and trailers, and facilities that include a cafe-bar, minimarket, TV room, swimming pool, laundry, kitchen and shared refrigerators and freezers;

♦  Esperides, a complex of five independent holiday apartments; 

♦  Faros Luxury Suites, a seaside hotel with 11 kitchenette-equipped luxury apartments; 

Mesogeios Hotel, a group of studios and apartments situated between Marathopoli and Lagouvardos beach;

♦  Lagouvardos Apartments, a collection of seven small, furnished houses near Lagourvardos Beach;

♦   Edem Suites, a collection of standard and family-sized maisonettes near Lagourvardos, and

♦  Messinian Horizons, a complex of 5 luxury maisonette villas situated about 3 km south of Marathopoli.

Our travel companions had suggested we all stay at the Artina Hotel Nuovo, and it proved to be an excellent choice: the location was good; the breakfast buffet was enjoyable; the sea and sunset views were wonderful; and our spacious, well-appointed rooms were extremely comfortable. The nightly rates were very reasonable, too. I would love to stay there again. (You can see photos of our room and the hotel on page 2 of this post.)

For dining, we were again spoiled for choice and had to decide from such top-rated restaurants as:

Panorama Fish Tavern;

Argyris Fish Tavern;

♦  Maistrali Restaurant & Fish Tavern;

♦  Artoinos Mezedopolio;

♦ Miggas Vassilios Taverna;

Riki Mediterranean Restaurant (operated by the proprietors of the Megalo Kampos resort);

♦ Faros Restaurant in the Faros Luxury Suites hotel;

♦  Pame Bounti grillhouse;

♦ Entheon Italian cuisine and pizzeria; and

♦  De Novo Cafe Bar

(A bright new arrival on the Marathopoli dining scene, Opos Palia (Όπως Παλιά_Μεζεδοπωλείο-Ψησταριά), didn’t open until after our visit.)

For a late dinner on our first night in town, we went to Panorama Fish Tavern on the restaurant and bar strip that residents call The Sidewalk. Every dish we ordered — the calamari, horta, grilled local cheese, and meatballs — was tasty and enjoyable, while the service was very good.

The next night we chose Artoinos Mezedopolio, which had received great reviews on travel websites and restaurant apps. Our selections there included skordalia, gigantes, chick pea balls, spetzofai sausages, fried pork in white wine, and pleuvrotos mushrooms. We loved everything and would be hard-pressed to list a favourite, but all of us agreed that the sausages and mushrooms were stand-out dishes.  The wine and service were excellent to match. Artoinos would probably be the first place we’d go for dinner next time we return to Marathopoli.

And what about the Marathopoli nightlife? We didn’t experience any of it ourselves, but the town does have a lively bar and nightclub scene, especially during the main summer travel months. Popular spots for drinks, music and partying include:

♦  Albatross Seaside Cafe-Bar

♦  Aithrio Music Cafe

♦ Animus Wine Bar and Cafe

♦  Rodanthos Club

♦ Puerto Club

♦ Loco Bar, and

♦ Diva Club

If we had stayed out late for a night on the town, though, we certainly would have enjoyed coming back to the Artina Nuovo to crash in our super-comfy beds and awake to the calming panoramic views of the harbour and sea.

Below are panoramic photos I shot on my iphone, showing the interior of our spacious room at the Artina Nuovo as well as the morning and sunset views from our balcony:


Artina Nuovo Hotel room interior

Artina Nuovo Hotel room view

Artina Nuovo Hotel sunset view


More photos of our room and its views, plus pictures of the hotel, can be viewed on page 2 of this post. Of course, more photos and information about the Artina Nuovo, and its sister Artina Hotel, as well as online booking, can be found on the official hotel website.

For customer reviews of the various places to eat in the town, check the Marathopoli restaurant listing on TripAdvisor.



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Marathopoli: A mellow seaside town and ideal base for exploring southwestern Messenia


Marathopoli and Proti island

An aerial view looking west toward the town of Marathopoli and Proti Island. The photo is from the website for Marathopoli’s Artina Hotel Nuovo, where we stayed two nights while visiting historic sites, towns and attractions on a road trip through the Messenia region of the southwestern Peloponnese .


Great location: I didn’t know anything about Marathopoli when our travelling companions suggested we use the small seaside town as a base during two days of our road trip in the Messenian region of the Peloponnese last spring. Quite frankly, I didn’t know exactly where it was or what was there, and I doubt I had even heard of the place before they mentioned it.

What we discovered when we got there, on Day 2 of our trip, was a quiet, laid-back town that was a perfect spot to unwind after busy days of driving, hiking and sightseeing. And, just as our friends had pointed out, it was very conveniently located. All of the major attractions we wanted to see — Methoni Castle, Voidokilia beach, the old castle of Navarino, and the town of Pylos — were less than 40 minutes away. Many more historic sites, beaches and natural attractions we didn’t have time to visit were within reasonable driving distances as well, including The Palace of Nestor; Golden Beach – Mati and Vromomeri beach; and the Valta waterfall,  Neda River, Polylimnio lakes and waterfalls, Gialova wetlands, and more. 



From a tourist perspective, Marathopoli isn’t a particularly remarkable town in and of itself. Although it’s located on the coast, the built-up area of businesses and residences is spread across flat terrain, so it doesn’t boast a naturally picturesque and scenic setting like the more famous Messenian hillside towns of Pylos and Kyparissia. Its streets aren’t as photogenic, since there are no cobblestone lanes lined with rustic old houses and impressive historic buildings to stroll around.

When we arrived at Marathopoli and passed through the main section of town on the way to our accommodations, we found a compact commercial strip with three supermarkets and several other shops catering to the local residents, a couple of cafes and tavernas, and a number of vacant storefronts.  The business area, which occupies just a couple of short blocks, is fairly basic and nondescript — it hasn’t been fancied up with boutique shops, hipster cafes and trendy wine bars geared to upmarket travellers. From what I recall, it didn’t have any shops selling T-shirts and tacky cheap souvenirs, either. The town seemed unassuming and refreshingly “non-touristy,” at least at the low season time we were there. (It could be a slightly different story during the peak travel months of July and August, though.)


Marathopoli main street

A Google Streetview photo of the business area along Marathopoli’s main street


However, Marathopoli does have an attractive pedestrian zone just off the main drag, where visitors will enjoy going for coffee, drinks or dinner, or to take walks with views of the sea and Proti Island.  One block, which leads from the main street toward the sea, has been pleasantly landscaped with brick and flagstone pavement, benches, planter boxes, and old-style streetlamps. Restaurants, a few shops and a bank occupy the buildings along both sides of the block. The street intersects with a flagstone-paved pedestrian walkway (Πεζόδρομος — pezodromos) that extends along the seafront all the way to the town harbour.  Locals refer to it in English as The Sidewalk, and it is the town’s go-to area for a good selection of fish tavernas, traditional Greek restaurants, coffee shops and bars, many of which have open-air patios along the seafront. We found the pedestrian areas incredibly quiet in daytime and early evening, but humming with people and activity at night, once all of the restaurants had opened.


a street in Marathopoli

Visitors will find a bank, shops and restaurants on this block-long pedestrian street which leads from the main road toward the seafront


Marathopoli seaside pedestrian promenade

The pedestrian promenade known locally as The Sidewalk overlooks the seaside and extends from the restaurant zone all the way to the town harbour


restaurant area in Marathopoli

The Sidewalk offers a variety of dining options, including cafes, fish tavernas, restaurants and bars, most of which have patios on the seaside


But The Sidewalk isn’t what draws tourists to Marathopoli. The two main attractions for visitors are Proti Island and Lagouvardos beach, both of which are easily accessed from town.  Proti is reached on excursion boats from the Marathopoli harbour, and offers swimming and cliff jumping at secluded Vourlia beach, trekking on a variety of island trails, rock climbing, snorkeling and scuba diving. Lagouvardos is a large golden-sand beach about 3 kilometers from town, and is popular for board and wind surfing, stand up paddle boarding, swimming and other water sports.  (More information about Proti and Lagouvardos will appear in an upcoming post.)

If you’re planning to travel in western Messenia and looking to stay in a mellow, realxed location with appealing attractions close by and plenty more within reasonable driving distance, take a closer look at Marathopoli.  For us, its location just couldn’t be beat. Our only regret was that we didn’t spend another night or two there; we never made it to Lagouvardos, and at the time of our late May visit the tour boats to Proti Island had not started operating.  But we did enjoy the town’s unhurried, low-key atmosphere, excellent dining, and beautiful sea and sunset views.

For additional information about the town and top attractions nearby, check out the official Marathopoli Tourist Guide as well as as Jessica’s excellent overview article, Marathopoli and the beautiful surrounding area in Messenia, Greece, from the Athens Coast lifestyle website.

To see more of Marathopoli, take a look at the aerial video below, then turn to page 2 where I have posted photos that we shot while wandering around the town and enjoying the almost traffic-free streets.


Aerial views of Marathopoli and Proti Island are featured in this 2-minute video by Nikos Tsiak



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KateRina’s traditional Greek cuisine hits the spot


KateRinas Taverna

KateRinas Taverna

Exterior views of KateRina’s Restaurant in the Romanos area of Messenia, a short drive from Voidokilia beach and the town of Pylos


Late lunch: We felt famished after our hike to the Old Castle of Navarino and a long walk during our visit to Voidokilia beach, and all of us agreed that a hearty lunch of traditional Greek cuisine would really hit the spot. KateRina’s Restaurant near Romanos had been recommended by several reliable sources, and was only a 10-minute drive away, so we piled into the car and headed right over.

We arrived shortly before 3 in the afternoon, so the lunch crowd had moved on and the few customers still in the taverna were all close to finishing their meals. Restaurant proprietor Katerina greeted us with a warm welcome and showed us to a table at the edge of the veranda where a light breeze — plus beer, wine and water — helped us cool off after our half day in the hot sun.


KateRina's Tavern Restaurant

The main entrance to Katerina’s Restaurant


KateRina's Tavern Restaurant

Tables in a cozy corner of the open-air dining veranda


Given our ravenous appetites, we weren’t sure how much food to order, but KateRina assured us that our selection of Greek salad, tzatziki, zucchini balls, meat balls and a local pork dish would be probably be just the right amount for four hungry people.  So we sat back to relax and enjoy our beverages while KateRina and her kitchen staff prepared our lunch.

The taverna was celebrating its milestone 50th anniversary in 2017, and once we tasted Katerina’s traditional cuisine we immediately understood why her restaurant has been highly recommended for so long: the food was superb.

The zucchini balls — a house specialty which has long been a customer favourite  — were delicious, as were the pork (served in a yummy tomato sauce) and the tender, juicy meat balls (accompanied by a heaping side of scrumptious fried potatoes)We also loved the large horiatiki , which included two ingredients we’d never seen before in a Greek salad: cooked beets and potatoes. (They added nice flavours and textures to the dish.) Then there was the restaurant’s signature tzatziki, served with a platter of grilled bread. It was simply outstanding. Tzatziki has never been one of my favourite starters, but KateRina’s version was almost to die for. 


KateRina's Restaurant

Katerina’s tzatziki was divine (and the portion was huge, though it’s not obvious in my photo)


KateRina's Restaurant salad

KateRina’s Greek salad includes chunks of tasty beets and potatoes


The service was excellent and Katerina was a delightful hostess. At the end of our meal, she took time to join us for some conversation about her taverna and the local area before returning to the kitchen to prepare for a very busy night — a group from a nearby resort had booked the entire restaurant for dinner.



If you’re travelling in the southwestern Peloponnese, plan to stop by KateRina’s for a lunch or dinner of fabulous Greek cuisine or delicious fresh fish. It might be wise to make a reservation, though, since the restaurant is quite popular with tourists visiting the nearby town of Pylos or Voidokilia and other close-by beaches. Large groups from the five-star Westin Costa Navarino and Romanos Luxury Collection Resort often bus over to the taverna, as well, so the place can get very busy or even completely booked out.

Contact information and hours of operation are indicated on the KateRina’s Tavern website.  If you want to read what other people have said about the restaurant, check the Katerina’sTavern listing on TripAdvisor, where more than 250 customers have posted reviews.

KateRinas Restaurant

A red marker pinpoints the location of KateRina’s Restaurant on this Google image of the Navarino Bay area of the Peloponnese. The taverna is very close to the Westin Costa Navarino Resort (top left) and is a short drive from the town of Pylos (bottom center).

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