Excursions in Mani
Zen Rocks is about 5 minutes away from the villages of: Kallianeika, Doloi, and Stavropigion. The nearest beaches are: Kitries, about 6-8 minutes away, and Kardamili about 20 minutes South. A further drive down brings you to other beautiful beaches, both rocky and sandy, and to the scenic seaside towns of Stoupa and St. Nicholas. Some of the most memorable destinations and sightseeings are the Diros Caves of Stalactites and Stalagmites, the ancient ruins of Messene, and the house of the celebrated British writer Patrick Leigh Fermor, author of the book “Mani”, to name but a few.
Day trip in Kalamata
The point of reference par excellence in the city of Kalamata is the legendary “castle of Isabeau” where the renowned International Dance Festival takes place annually. It is amphitheatrically constructed on the site of the Farai acropolis offering a bird’s eye view of the city. Constructed in the 13th century by William Villehardouin, it underwent subsequent additions and conversions by the Venetians and the Turks.
No less beautiful is the exquisite Palia Poli (Old City) at the foot of the Castle. The area is the hotspot for the city’s youth, for it is the beating heart of the nightlife in Kalamata!
- The City Hall
- The Marina
- The Modern Greek Art Gallery, with paintings, sculptures and carvings.
- The Benakeion Archaeological Museum
- The spacious Central Vassileos Georgiou (King George) square with many coffee shops, meeting places and strolling venues for residents and visitors. The pedestrian walkway of Aristomenous Street starts here with many stores and coffee shops to populate it.
- To the west of the square the neighbourhood unfolds around the picturesque railroad station with a network of pedestrian ways, small coffee shops, bars and tavernas.
- Needless to say that Kalamata city offers a nice shopping area! Small and very nice boutiques and some chain stores are on the corner of Plateia Aristomenous in the centre of the city and the road leading to the station. Follow the road along there and there are a string of them. There are also some more scattered on the street parallel to Aristomenous.
- The Folklore and History Museum, which is housed in the Kiriakou mansion, with traditional objects and relics from the 1821 Greek War of Independence.
- The Municipal Theatre
- The Railways Park with exhibits of old motorcycles and railway wagons.
- The seaside road in front of the city’s extensive beach (4 km length with marvellous waters). On the seaside of Kalamata, people can swim in crystal clear waters and enjoy lace-like beaches, which have been granted the Blue Flag award of quality. Along the seaside, there are several tavernas, ouzo restaurants, cafeterias, bars, clubs, whereas beach aficionados can enjoy all kinds of water sports.
Excursion to Diros Caves
The famous Alepotripa and Vlichada caves are located in Pirgos Diros. In the course of the late Neolithic period (4000-3000 BC), the cave was extensively used as shelter, dwelling, workshop, storage place for goods, cemetery and a place of worship. When you arrive at the Caves you buy your ticket at the booth and continue driving to the parking lot just outside the entrance. Try to get here early especially in the summer. When you enter the cave you will walk down a stairway to an underground lake where there are boats waiting. You are given a life-vest and then each boat gets a guide who uses poles to journey through the caverns and tunnels, which are eerily lit and adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, many with interesting names. You will pass through some sections just wide enough to allow your boat, where you have to duck your head and then enter into an enormous subterranean room where you can hear the voices of people on other boats in the distance. The air is a comfortable seventy degrees at any time of the year (so bring a sweater or light jacket if you tend to get cold).
Telephones: +30 27330 52222 (Cave), +30 27330 52223 (Neolithic Museum)
Tickets: Full: €12, Reduced: €7
Open Summer Hours: 10:00-18:00
Archaeological Site of Ancient Messene
Ancient Messene, is a local community of the municipal unit Ithomi, of the municipality of Messini within the regional unit of Messenia in the region of Peloponnese, one of 13 regions into which Greece has been divided. Before 2011 it held the same position in the administrative hierarchy, according to Law 2539 of 1997, the Kapodistrias Plan, except that Ithomi was an independent municipality and Ancient Messene was a local division within it. Most of the area of Ancient Messene contains the ruins of the large classical city-state of Messene refounded by Epaminondas in 369 BC, after the battle of Leuctra and the first Theban invasion of the Peloponnese. Epaminondas invited the return to their native land of all the families that had gone into exile from Messenia during its long struggle with and servitude under the military state of Sparta, now finished as a conquering state. This new Messene, today’s Ancient Messene, was constructed over the ruins of Ithome, an ancient city originally of Achaean Greeks, destroyed previously by the Spartans and abandoned for some time.
Currently the substantial ruins are a major historical attraction. Much of it has been archaeologically excavated and partly restored or preserved for study and public viewing, as well as for various events. The site was never totally abandoned. The small village of Mavromati occupies what was the upper city around the fountain called Klepsydra. Administrative structure and population figures refer primarily to it.
The House of Patrick Leigh Fermor
Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011), universally known as Paddy, was one of the most charismatic and adventurous British personalities of the last century. An author, scholar, soldier, decorated hero, and adventurer, he was widely regarded and celebrated as the finest travel writer of his generation. As a member of the British mission, he played a prominent role in the Cretan resistance during the Second World War. A great admirer and lover of Greece, he and his wife Joan chose to live at their home in Kardamyli, Mani, for the rest of their lives. His house built besides Kardamili seaside is considered as the perfect writers house! In 1996 Patrick and Joan Leigh Fermor bequeathed their home in Kardamyli to the Benaki Museum with the intention that the house’s ownership would be transferred to the Museum after their death.
Eat in a traditional Greek Taverna
The unique flavors of Greek cuisine distinguish Greece. While you are in Greece, you will get some pleasant gastronomic surprises. On the contrary to what many people believe about Greek cuisine, you will discoverer that “moussaka”, “souvlaki” and “choriatiki or Greek salads” are not the only Greek foods.
Greek cuisine consists of a big variety of dishes, which can fully satisfy the gastronomic requirements of both vegetarians and meat lovers. What makes Greek cuisine unique is the combination of the following elements: the ingredients, the Greek philosophy on nutrition matters, the sharing of meals with others, as well as the country itself and its whole atmosphere.
Visit an organic oil production unit & store
(Bläuel Greek Organic Products)
Bläuel roots stem back to the late-1970s and its organic cultivation program for olive trees has been up since the mid-1980s. It is the oldest and largest farming project of its kind in Greece and has been awarded many times recently and in previous years. The atmosphere at their headquarters is one of extreme ease and efficiency. Composed of a small group of diligent professionals who interact like a friendly family Bläuel is a very special and unique team.