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Pylos / Neokastro

COUNTY: Messinia MUNICIPALITY: Pylos-Nestor

Clouds
19ºC

Population

2,000 - 3,000

Infrastracture

Citizen Service Centre, Museum, Pharmacy, Medical Centre, Gas Station, Cash Machine,

Distance from nearest city

50-75km

TL;DR

Pylos or Neocastro is a large city, offering many interesting and historically important sights both inside the city limits and nearby.

Pylos or Neokastro is a small town of the southwestern Peloponnese, only 52km from Kalamata, built amphitheatrically around the port with the same name. In the past it was known under the name Neokastro or Niokastro or Navarino, from where the famous naval battle took its name. The Navarino’s cove, the entrance of which is protected by the Sphacteria island, constitutes a rather big and safe port. The town is adorned with elegant neoclassical buildings. The Archaeological Museum is also quite interesting, as well as the Venetian fortress of Niokastro. Inside the fortress you will find the church of Metamorphosis tou Swtiros (the Transfiguration of Christ), which was once a mosque.

In Pylos area, some ancient findings of great archaeological value have been discovered. During the Homeric years, the king of Pylos, Nestoras, was a wise Achaean ruler that participated on the Trojan War. His kingdom was one of the most powerful of this era after the Mycenae kingdom of Agamemnon. Only 17km south of the modern town Nestoras’ palace was discovered, with impressive floors and murals. It is important to add that Nestoras’ palace was the sole Mycenaean palace without walls.

Kastro (Castle) or Niokastro (New Castle) was built by the Ottomans in 1572 after their defeat in the battle of Nafpaktos. The village was under their control for about a century until the Venetians took over (1686-1715). After the Orlov Revolt (1715), the castle was returned to the Ottomans, who retook the region. The Castle was taken by the Greeks at the start of the Revolution and it was recaptured by the Turks and Egyptians under Ibrahim in 1825. In Navarino’s gulf, in 1827, one of the most important conflicts between the Turkish navy and the navy of the allied forces (English, French and Russian) took place. The Turkish navy suffered great losses (both in ships and in human lives), while the allies defeated the enemy with minimal losses. The battle of Navarino was the beginning of the end for the Ottoman Empire and a huge step for the Independence of Greece.

Another sight worth visiting is the Maizonos Barracks. The French, Nicolas Joseph Maison, chief general of the French army in Peloponnese from 1827 to 1830, built next to Niokastro the modern city of Pylos. In the building you will find, the collection of the French philhellene Rene Puaux, who donated it to the Greek state.

The Antonopouleio or the Archaeological Museum of Pylos houses findings of the area dated from the Middle Helladic to Roman times. Another important sight of the town is the renovated house of the Olympic champion Kostis Tsiklitiras. On the surroundings of Pylos, the visitor can enjoy excursions to Kastro or Niokastro, the Lagoon of Gialovas, which is an important wetland of the region, the private Folklore Museum of Kostas Balafoutis, as well as the Voidokoilia beach. Another sight worth visiting is Polylimnio, exquisite scenery with many waterfalls and numerous little lakes. Inside the gulf of Navarino, opposite to Pylos, there are three little islands, Sphacteria, Chelonaki, Fanari or Tsihli-Baba that you can access by boat from the port.

On the right of Pylos-Methonis road, you can still notice part of the old aqueduct “Kamares” that used to supply Pylos with water. Next to Pylos, there is also the “Kalamaris” waterfall and in order to reach it you need to walk for 15-20 minutes from where you parked your car.

An equally famous sight is also the Nestoros Cave, where, according to mythology, they used to guard the royal oxen. Near the Nestoras Cave, there is also the vaulted tomb of Thrasymedes, son of Nestor (1680-1060 BC). Even though the tomb was partially plundered, the excavations brought to light very important findings.

The Elaiofyto village (previously called Sgrapa) is also worth visiting with its beautiful church of Panagia Sgrapa (Virgin Mary of Sgrapa) built around 1400. The church was destroyed and rebuilt many times, with the latest change, dated in 1892, made by donations at the place where the icon of Panagia  (Virgin Mary) was discovered.