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Kastorio

COUNTY: Laconia MUNICIPALITY: Sparta

Drizzle
8ºC

Population

500 - 1,000

Infrastracture

Pharmacy, Citizen Service Centre,

Distance from nearest city

10-35km

TL;DR

A picturesque village of stone houses with a long history and many interesting sights, as well as archaeological sites.

A verdant mountainous village on the eastern slopes of north Taygetus. It is just 17 kilometres from Sparta, on an altitude of 450 metres, with about 600 residents. It is named after the mythic hero Kastoras. Up to 1921 it was named Kastania, meaning "chestnut tree".

Near Kastorio was the ancient Pellana, the land of king Menelaus and Helen of Sparta (the king's wife, also known as Helen of Troy). Excavations have brought to light their palace, vaulted tombs, a cyclopean wall, parts of a settlement and a kingly tomb of the Mycenaean period, as well as a city older than the Mycenaean settlement.

The more adventurous visitor can hike in Lukas and Myloi canyons. For those interested in tamer things, just 10 minutes by foot from the village is the small chapel of Misosporitissa, built between rocks in a green landscape, where Agios Theoklitos was an ascetic. By the village's entrance are the springs of Agios Mamas and a little way away is the spring of Vagia along with the old watermill and the fulling tubs. It is worth to notice that the village used to be full of watermills.

The village is exceptionally picturesque. It is full of old stone houses and shops built by the well-known Lagkadianoi builders (exceptional workers with long history and expertice), and the village's manors show great architectural interest.

There are no records about the founding of the village, thought it seems it was built on two Byzantine villages called Mesonisi and Chora. Modern history begins in the year 1826, when the village was rebuilt after Ibrahim's attack. The church of Panagia (Holy Virgin) on the mountain was built during the Turkish rule and it was the village's central church, remaining unburned. Up to a few years ago, inside the church were rare Byzantine pictures that were sadly stolen.

Near the church is the cave of Ragia, about 400 metres lower than the chapel dedicated to Agios Ioannis the Faster which is built between rocks. In the cave hid the women and children during the German occupation to evade the Germans.

The village's patron is Agios Theoklitos, celebrated in the 1st of December and the 8th of September, since his church is also dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin Mary. The Byzantine church was rebuilt in 1893, and in its inside is a wonderful carved iconostasis, burned by the Turks but rebuilt after the liberation of the area and the arrival of Kapodistrias.

Near the village is also the Marmarogefyro, meaning a bridge made of marble in Greek, which is a remarkable work of the Byzantine period; it has three marble arches and is in a perfect spot for hiking.