Travelogue: Monastery, Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

It’s been a while, but I’m continuing the series recounting a roadtrip in the Greek Peleponnese, around Easter. This was my first time exploring this part of the country, and after the trip I’m totally convinced it’s one of the best places to visit in Greece. To catch up, the roadtrip started at Ancient Olympia, with the archaeological site in all its spring glory and the fantastic Olympia Archaeological Museum. The next stop was Voidokilia, Messinia, an incredible lagoon, great for nature (and bird watching!). Nearby, the city of Pylos (formerly known as Navarino!) beckoned with castles and fantastic views. The western Greek coast was occupied, at various stages, by both the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks – so the next stop on the road trip was the Castle of Methoni, followed by Koroni Castle.

The castle of Koroni covered a massive area, and was too gorgeous for me to restrain my picture-taking impulses.. After exploring the ruined church and neighbouring cemetery, and then taking in the view from the walls, we entered the monastery of the Panagia of Koroni. Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleInside the low walls of this monastery we found only a handful of nuns, and almost as many churches. This church pictured above, dedicated to St Sophia, is so far below the current ground level you can imagine how old it must be. There has been a monastery of the site since the twelfth century. Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni CastleVisiting this place in the spring was magical – the nuns keep an incredible garden – but it was also right after Easter so the church was decorated with red and white, proclaiming that Christ has Risen.Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleA vantage point on the interior wall of the monastery gave a better sense of the scale of the castle, as well as how strategic that location must have been. Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleWe explored the gardens, and little churches, and soaked in the view, leaving just as the sun was setting. Next stop – the Byzantine ruins of Mystras! Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle Koroni Castle

Travelogue: More of Koroni Castle, Messinia

Koroni CastleMaking 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. Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleNot to mention magical views..! Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleIt 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! Koroni Castle

Travelogue: Koroni Castle, Messinia

Koroni CastleThe 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.Koroni CastleKoroni CastleWe 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!  Koroni CastleKoroni CastleThe 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..Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleWe 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.Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleWe 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..Koroni Castle

Travelogue: Methoni, Messinia

Methoni CastleThe 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.Methoni CastleMethoni CastlePictures 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.Methoni CastleThe 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. Methoni CastleMethoni CastleMethoni CastleNothing 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! Methoni CastleMethoni CastleMethoni Castle