Paleokastro: The Forgotten Castle
Don’t miss the opportunity to hike up to the ruins of this castle before or after a stay at Voidokilia beach. From the castle, which literally hangs on the cliffs, there is a stunning panoramic view of the countryside of Messinia and the Gulf of Navarino. The Franks built Paleokastro in the 13th century. Venetians and Turks extended the castle until 1573, when the Ottomans abandoned it to build Neokastro.
Neokastro: The imposing Ottoman fortress
Neokastro is probably one of the best-preserved fortresses in Greece. Military architecture of the 16th century at its finest, the citadel in the shape of a hexagon. The Turks built the fortress in 1573 with the help of European engineers and architects. The fortress was expanded from 1686 – 1715 while the Venetians controlled the area. A church in the middle of the fortress complex reflects the history of the castle. Originally an Ottoman mosque, then, under the Venetians, a Christian church until the castle was recaptured by the Turks. For a brief period of occupation by Russians, the mosque was again a church. In 1821, the Greeks finally conquered the castle from the Turks and the mosque was converted into a Christian church for the third and final time.
The aqueduct in Pylos dates back to the early Ottoman period and was used to supply the fortress. Neocastro is not visible from the sea, although it played an important role in the famous naval battle of Navarino.
The castle of Methoni: Protection from pirates
Take your time to explore the approximately 93-hectare area of the castle and settlement. As soon as the imposing bridge is crossed, the castle with its impressive entrance gate opens up. Through a second and then a third gate, you enter the interior of the complex, where there was once a settlement. The first fortification was built as early as 400 BC, later reinforced and further extended by the Romans, but the castle was not built until 1209 AD by the Venetians. There is much to see here: A small church, the 19th century Turkish baths, the house of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt. In the 15th century, the Ottomans again extended the area. For example, around the imposing Bourtzi defence tower, where prisoners were also inhumanely kept; the famous Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes (author of “Don Quixote”) was also imprisoned there in the 16th century.
Koroni Castle: In the hands of various military leaders
The castle, built at the same time as Methoni Castle, was considered the best-protected castle in Messenia, if not in the entire Peloponnese, during the Ottoman period. Inside, the Byzantine church of Agia Sofia was built on the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo. Next door is the monastery of Timios Prodromos. The fortress has been in the hands of many over the years – Ottomans, Franks, Venetians, Habsburgs… a tug of war of powers.
Palace of Nestor: Sung by Homer
It is perhaps the best-preserved Mycenaean palace complex ever discovered and the excavation site of the Palace of Nestor covers an area of about 2 hectares. This area is thought to have been first settled around the 15th century BC. The palace complex itself was built in the 13th century BC and is said to have been destroyed by fire as early as 1200 BC.
Whether in summer as an alternative programme to a staying at the beach or in the spring and autumn months, from Gialova Hills 6 as base – immersion in the history of Greece is an easy task.