My blog has been noticeably silent for the last several weeks – I do apologise, but I have a sort of good excuse. More travels!
Lots more updates to come, from Greece, as well as this trip to India, a weekend in Munich, travels in Turkey, etc. Thank you for your patience!
Making our way to the edge of the cemetery, that we explored in my previous post about Koroni Castle, we found a path that led to the castle walls, where we finally realised the massive scale of this place. Not to mention magical views..! It was almost deserted, so we could take our time soaking it all in. There isn’t much left of the massive fortification that dominated this area, or the life that used to dwell within, but there is still a little monastery with a few nuns left.. coming in the next post!
The Venetian castles of Methoni and Koroni are only about 30km apart, on the southwestern tip of the Peleponnese, so after a spectacular visit to Methoni, we knew we had to make a stop at Koroni as well.We arrived here towards the end of the afternoon (after starting our day in Kyparissia, with stops in Voidokilia, Pylos and Methoni) so the castle was fairly empty and the light was perfect. Late afternoon is my favourite time of day in Greece – seriously, that light is unreal. Look at it! The approach to the castle was interesting – it’s at the end of a peninsula past the town of Koroni, which is traversed by a single road – in theory two-ways, but barely wide enough for one direction of traffic. At the end of the town, we found a castle-like gate, but no indication that this was indeed car-friendly or the actual way in. We drove through anyway, hoping for the best..We weren’t disappointed. Once through the gate, we happened upon a central area of the castle that was almost deserted – just a few guys hanging out in the churchyard. There was also this strange half-ruined church, which I loved taking pictures of but was left feeling very curious about its story. Even online searching after the fact didn’t reveal anything, so the mystery remains.We wandered a little through the cemetery and churchyard, enjoyed the peace and quiet. This battered bench and resting place next to the church could have been almost anywhere in Greece. It was easy to forget we were inside a 13th century castle, but once we headed toward the perimeter… cliff views! Stay tuned..
The second day of my family’s Easter roadtrip around the Peloponnese continued on from a stop at Voidokilia, with a stop for cheese pies at the castle of Pylos, south to the fortress of Methoni, located at the southwest tip of the Peloponnese.Pictures do not do this place justice at all – it looks like it should have been the site for a scene of Game of Thrones. Its strategic location meant that this area was both heavily contested and fortified – the site of struggles between pirates and Venetians in the 12th century, and then a stopping point on the European crusader route to the Holy Land.The area inside the walls itself is also huge – the entire cape is enclosed, and would have housed basically an entire town within its walls, like many medieval castles. Now there’s not much left, except the ruins of a church, it is perhaps even more dramatic. Nothing beats that view of the sea though. What have those walls witnessed? I love wonder such things in a place like this.. So atmospheric for wandering and historical daydreaming!
Although a week of this month was spent adventuring around the Peloponnese with my dad, and then the rest of the month mostly spent at my aunt’s house where my dad recuperated from the fall that cut our adventures short (he will be fine!), the changing seasons here in Athens have made for some glorious skies and scenery. Also, staying home and keeping dad company has been a good excuse for some cooking, so there are a few more food photos than usually, I apologise. Still can’t quite believe October has come and gone already, but Happy November everyone!
After a bird-watching and toe-dipping break at the lagoon of Voidokilia, our Easter roadtrip continued along the Western coast of the Peloponnese to the town of Pylos, previously known as Navarino. Though I knew that Navarino was the site of an important naval battle during the Greek War of Independence, but I don’t think I had ever connected that dots to realise that Navarino and Pylos are the same place. I now know better! We didn’t spend much time in the town itself, but did pass through the central square, where we stopped for cheese pies. With provisions for lunch, we drove on and up to the castle that dominates the whole area, and provides a wonderful vantage point over the bay where the battle took place – between the Ottoman navy and an alliance of British, French and Russian vessels, who had by then intervened on the side of Greece in their struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire.
Probably the most appropriate word to describe the castle is impressive. Though not the first castle in the town, or on the specific site, the structure that we visited was built by the Ottoman Turks in the 1500s, and then later improved upon by the French during the War. The view from the castle is commanding, as you can see, and it dominates the entrance to the bay. Inside the castle, there was also a great short film about the Battle itself, housed in one of the rooms that were used as prison cells in the 18th and 19th centuries. Fairly foreboding. We also learned that the name ‘Navarino’ likely derives from a Venetian corruption of ‘Ton Avarinon’ – Castle of the Avars, pointing to the diverse history of the Peloponnese, especially the Western and Southern coast, which saw not only Byzantine and Ottoman periods but also Venetian and Frankish.
It’s been a while since I wrote a ‘Travelogue’ post about my family’s Easter travels. Just to catch up – we started off from Athens to Olympia, where we explored the archaeological site and the wonderful museum, before spending the night at Kyparissia on the western coast of the Peloponnese. On our way down the coast the next day, we stopped briefly at this strange sand dune-y, lagoon-like beach.
In early spring, it was almost completely deserted – so we had the place to ourselves to explore for a little while. Behind the beach is an actual lagoon, known for being an important wildlife habitat, and the relative quiet at that time of the year was perfect for a little bit of birdwatching. It was also perfect for the first toe-dip of the season! Chilly water, but a lovely and refreshing stop on our Peloponnesian roadtrip.
After a little bit of exploration and a chance to stretch our legs, we dried off our feet and got back in the car. Next stop, nearby Pylos – site of the Battle of Navarino which turned the tide of the War of Greek Independence. Stay tuned!