Must-see attractions in Kalamata city
The natural beauty of Messinia with the indented shores, sandy beaches, forested mountains and fertile valleys, coexists with significant archaeological monuments. Kalamata, the capital and central port of Messinia, is situated at the site of ancient Farai. Following independence from the Turks and thanks to the exploitation of the fertile Messinian lands (producing olive oil, raisins, figs etc), it developed into a wealthy urban centre and a significant port. It is located 238 km SW of Athens and you can reach it by regional bus, car and airplane (via Athens or Kalamata airport).
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. Nowadays, it is an ideal open air venue for theatre, music and dance shows. No less beautiful is the exquisite Palia Poli (Old City) at the foot of the Castle. The city boasts the Metropolitan Panagia Ipapanti church (1873), the patron saint of Kalamata celebrated on February 2nd, the 12th century Kalograion Monastery with the renowned silk weaving workshop, and the Byzantine church Agioi Apostoloi (13th century), where the Greek Revolution for Independence started in 1821. Kalamata hosts the School of Humanities and Cultural Studies of the University of the Peloponnese as well as the Technological Educational Institute of Kalamata. The area is the hotspot for the city’s youth, for it is the beating heart of the nightlife in Kalamata and by no means will it be still!
- The Archaeological Museum of Messenia (housed in the neoclassical building of the old Municipal agora). Exhibits date from the Bronze Age to the Roman period.
- The Modern Greek Art Gallery, housing paintings, sculptures and carvings.
- 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 Kalamata Military Museum, with exhibits from the 19th -20 th centuries.
- The Municipal Theatre and the Municipal Cultural Centre.
- The Kalamata Castle.
- The open-air Railway Park exhibits old motorcycles and railway wagons.
- The spacious central Vassileos Georgiou (King George) square and the Aristomenous streed with many coffee shops, meeting places and strolling venues for residents and visitors.
- The seaside road in front of the city’s extensive beach (4 km length with marvelous 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.
- The western beach with the city’s marina connects to the city centre via a cycle lane too.
- The archaeological site of Ancient Messene.
- The beaches at Verga (8 km E), Mikri Mandineia (10 km SE), Avia (12 km SE) and Kitries (17 km SE), which in recent years have developed into resorts with significant tourist facilities and a vibrant nightlife in the summer.
- The small town of Messini (11 km NW) with the Byzantine church of Agios Dimitrios, the prominent Municipal Mansion (1870) and the Τ. Katsoulidis – Museum of Carvings.
- The mountain villages on the Western slope of Mt. Taygetos, on the road to the city from Sparta, which is one of the most beautiful roads in Greece.
- Year-round cultural events, theatrical performances and concerts at the Castle amphitheatre during summer.
- The Kalamata International Dance Festival in the summer (www.kalamatadancefestival.gr).
- The International Documentary Festival.
- The major carnival in Messini on the last Sunday of the Carnival (Apokries) with traditional customs culminating in “the hanging of the old lady” on Ash Monday.
- The Carnival events with the traditional “gaitanaki” (maypole dance) in the city’s central square.
- The revival of the impressive “saitopolemos” (dart-war) custom at Easter, on the eve of the Resurrection (Western Beach Kalamata – Old Abattoirs).
- The horse racing events at the town of Plati (16 km NW) on Easter Monday.