A Beautiful Byzantine Site to Explore
In a country full of beautiful historic sites, this may have been my favorite to explore. It has so much: a beautiful hilltop setting that offers views for miles; ruins that you can clamber over; restored Byzantine churches with incredible fresco work covering the walls and ceilings, and peaceful courtyards draped with bougainvillea; a working nunnery, where you might spot a nun going about her daily business; plus lots of cats. There's an upper section, which is where you'll find the ruins and the views. We drove up there first, and the nice woman at the ticket desk told us we should explore the upper section, then drive down to the lower, and drew out a route for us so that we could see everything. We spent about 3 hours total wandering and taking it all in. If you're into Byzantine art, you could spend longer. And, unlike a lot of sites in Greece, the information panels are helpful and interesting, explaining different aspects of daily life in that era: who got to live inside the walls of the fort; where they got their water; burial practices. It's a fair amount of walking, so stay hydrated, and take breaks in those peaceful courtyards. Then, if you want a spectacular drive, go from here over the mountains to Kalamata. The scenery is spectacular.
By Jeremy Saum, AFAR Staff
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