To Olympia, cradle of the Olympic Games
Before arriving at Olympia, it is essential to visit Ancient Elis, the city which, in antiquity, committed itself to the organisation of the Olympic Games. Athletes came here to train, roughly one month before opening. It possessed the most complete facilities, luxurious baths, an agora, a gymnasium, temples and places of worship, the most significant being that of ‘Celestial Aphrodite’. The ‘sacred truce’, as it was called, was signed during the Games, and the whole of Elis was pronounced sacred. As one gets to Olympia it is evident that the archaeological site communicates greatness and solemnity. To travel back in time and relish the magic of the original Olympic Games, you will need time, a discovering mood and a good illustrated guide that you can obtain from the on-site, recently renovated Archaeological Museum. We specially recommend that you take kids with you on this trip. It will be a memorable experience!
• Ancient Olympia: 61 km from the studios
• Ancient Elis: 16 km from the studios
Thermal springs of Kyllini and Kaiafas
The hot springs of this, relatively developed, spa, have long been established as a tourist attraction. People from the whole of Greece and abroad come to this place to enjoy the beneficial qualities of the waters, rich in sulphur, sodium and chloride, and of a temperature of 25.5 C°, suitable for the treatment of several dermatological conditions, arthritis, gynaecological and respiratory problems. Another well-known spa in this area is Kaiafas, built on the piny isle of St. Catherine, amid a small lake. The medicinal waters spring both from the cave of the Anigrides nymphs, as well as the Geranion grotto, where, according to myth, the Centaur Nessus cleaned his wound, caused by one of Hercules’s poison arrows. Hence the waters are so malodorous…
• Kyllini Spa: 11 km from studios
• Kaiafas: 80 km from studios
The lighthouse of Kafkalida
On a strip of sea-beaten rocks stands the lighthouse of Kafkalida. Built in 1916, it warns seamen of the dangerous reef at the entrance of the Port of Kyllini. It is possible that, in ancient times, there was an edifice of similar function on the same spot, since the bottom of the sea holds plenty of antiquities. Legend has it that a mermaid used to live here, tearing fishermen’s nets when she had a bad temper. In reality, there are whispers that a couple of those rare Mediterranean seals have probably made a home of the secret underwater passages…
• 4 km from the studios
The Monastery of Panagia Vlacherna
Approximately 2.5 km SE of Kyllini lies the female monastery of Panagia Vlacherna. It is a fine example of 12th century Christian architecture, commenced by the Byzantines and completed by the Franks. You will have the opportunity to admire the extraordinary wall-paintings, and, naturally, the famous icon of Panagia Vlacherna, commemorated on September 8.
• 3 km from the studios
The pine-forest of Strofylia
There is more to Kalogria beach than its wonderful sands; it also is an important wetland, since the 5,000 acres of the pine-wood of Strofylia literally envelope it. Protected by international environmental treaties, the forest is of exceptional natural beauty, forming ponds, marshes and lagoons that fall below sea-level. Numerous kinds of birds, several of them rare, find food and refuge on its lovely spots. Trekking through the area is a sheer delight…
• 30 km from the studios
The gothic church of St. Sophia was built by the Latin Crusaders after they secured their position in Moreas and founded the Principality. Only the sanctuary survived earthquakes and local vandalism. This edifice served as a cathedral and a place of assembly for the knights and feudal lords of Moreas, at times of significant government decisions. It was one of the largest and most impressive Frankish churches in Greece. It measured 45.50 metres in length and 19 metres of width. To this great temple they had lent distinctive grandeur, in terms of architecture as well as decoration, and it is disappointing that it was not saved in its entirety.
• 9 km from the studios
The renowned Castle Chlemoutsi
Here, in Castle Chlemoutsi, lived and ruled Achaia Constantinos Paleologos – Dragatsis, last Byzantine Emperor…,’ reads the inscription at the entrance. Castle Chlemoutsi, the most beautiful castle of the Peloponnese, imposingly stands on a 250 m-high hill, in the region of the cape Chelonata, and is very well preserved. It was established by Geoffrey I Villehardouin in 1222 and saw moments of glory and unfortunate love, to which local legends give testimony… The brave king of Paliopoli (present-day Elis) fell in love with the queen of Chlemoutsi and she returned his feelings; but a mysterious curse befell them: if they exposed themselves to light, they would immediately turn into marble. And so, he was called ‘Sunless’ and she was called ‘Moonless’, and they only met by way of a long underground tunnel, which connected Paliopoli to Chlemoutsi. However, daybreak caught Sunless once, as he was slipping back to his palace, and he instantly froze. Moonless has not stopped lamenting for her lover ever since, wandering through the depths of the castle on moonless nights, searching for him.
• 6 km from the studios