Sightseeing in Northwest Trizinia
Just before Dryopi we can see on the road the junction towards Nisiza (Nisida) and Mylos. The junction is to the right and by making a u-turn, goes under the road and down towards the sea. This two-three kilometers detour is sufficient to take us many years back, to places authentic and untouched. Going down, the road divides into two directions, right is towards Myli and left towards Nisida.
The road towards Nisida ends in a peninsula at the Bay of Epidauros, where two rocky beaches with pebbles are formed on both sides. The right hand beach is smaller and quieter and it is where the marshy dirt road that goes to the right as we go down to the village ends. The left hand beach, longer in length, is situated right in front of the few coastal houses of the small and isolated hamlet.
From here, we can make out high up above us the first houses of Dryopi on the slopes of Asprovouni and to the right, even higher and steeper where they can just be seen are the Castle of Phanari and the little Church of Saints Anargyri.
We return to the road towards Myli. Isolated village with a few houses. From the village we continue SE on the dirt road for about 1.5km and at the point shown on the map, we leave our means of transport and walk to the left. The rocky beach with pebbles that we meet is deserted without any other particular interest.
Returning towards the small coastal road we can either go up towards Dryopi or come out again on to the coastal road to go up towards Dryopi after a few hundred metres, in order to visit two small churches that are situated on both sides of the road, first the Church of Saint Parthenius and second the Church of Saint Leonidis.
Saint Parthenius of Dryopi was built by the residents of the village in 1977 after the appearance and indication of the place by the Saint himself. The Saint was born in 318 AD and took part in the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. He is the Patron Saint of cancer sufferers.
Saint Leonidis lived in the 3rd century AD and is the Patron Saint of Trizina. He was martyred executed by drowning after being tortured together with 7 other devout women by the Romans in 251 AD. The relics of the Saint were washed up at Leonidio Kynouria (hence the name of the town).
A few metres on, we come to the main junction that to the right goes towards Dryopi. Dryopi is a lovely, alpine village which was recorded for the first time in 1834. In the area have been found traces of the ancient town of Dryopes (1400-1300BC). The main church of the village is that of Saint Charalabos. From its square with the War Memorial, we can enjoy the view towards the Bay of Epidaurus and Methana. There is also in Dryopi a Byzantine Church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.
We go up 4km from Dryopi to arrive at the very picturesque Ano Phanari that was recorded for the first time in 1834. It is worth strolling around the streets of the village to get to know it better. The main Church is of Saint Athanasios. We can also see in the village the old churches of the Holy Trinity and Saint Nikolaos. From Kokkinovrachos starts the picturesque “Gorge of Eros”, where Hippolytus fell and was killed.
The most important sightseeing attraction in Phanari is its castle at the summit of the hill, NE above the village. The well laid out footpath starts from Saint Athanasios and leaves the village to take us in 10 minutes to the castle. The castle is one of five preserved medieval fortifications of Trizinia. It is mentioned in historical sources of the 15th century AD. It was built on top of ancient fortifications, important traces of which we can see at its south gateway. At its summit, beside the concrete, small column of GIS, at the SW side of the castle, the remains of a rectangular cistern (water tank) have been saved. Inside the castle, at its NE extremity, we can see the all white small Church of the Saints Anargyri that from on high gazes at Dryopi, Methana and the Bay of Epidaurus.
We continue from Ano Phanari to go up towards Karatzas. Just before Karatzas (about 1.5km) we follow the sign to the small hamlet of Zervaika. A little before arriving at Zervaika, a short dirt road, that goes to our right, leads to the contemporary Chapel of Saint Vlassis, built in 1975. The Saint lived during the years of the Emperor Licinius (308-323AD). He was tortured and beheaded in 316AD.
We return towards Karatzas. A quiet village with its main Church of Saint Serapheim. In its small square in front of the church is the War Memorial that commemorates the execution of 23 residents by the Germans – men of the village of the ages from 18 to 55, on 5 June 1944. The most important sight of the village is the excavated, large in size, ancient grave that is situated on a private estate on the road that leaves the village towards Choriza. The marble plaque that it was inscribed with the name Evagoras was stolen several years ago.
We continue from Karatzas to Agia Eleni (about 3km). The last village of Trizinia before entering Argolida. The main church of the village is dedicated to the memory of Saints Konstandinos and Eleni. It was built on the site of an old building of unknown date and was inaugurated in 1981.
In Agia Eleni there are 3 very interesting sights to explore. Two of these we can see if we follow the road towards Tracheia and after 1km we turn right onto a narrow road that takes us to the little Church of the Holy Trinity, on the foothills of Mount Benteni (or Pigas). The church was built in 1706 and has been declared a listed monument. Opposite the Holy Trinity are the ruins of stone building that belonged to the Agha of the area. At the summit of Pigas Mountain there are ruins of the ancient citadel. In order to see them up close we must return to Agia Eleni and follow the road that passes in front of the Cathedral, which then becomes a dirt road and after 3-4km we arrive at the back side of the hill (see map). From here, a short footpath takes us up to the summit where apart from the very lovely view, we can also see the remains of the ancient fortifications and Cyclopean walls.
From Agia Eleni we return to Karatzas to follow the road towards Choriza (Chora) that is situated in the middle of the valley between the Ortholithi Mountain and the Aderes mountain range. We cross again the point with the ancient grave and continue towards Chora for a further 4-4.5km. As we get closer we can see on our right a peculiar conical peaked hill. With our means of transport we can reach up to the foothills of the rock. From there we go up towards the summit from where we can as the footpaths no longer exist and the vegetation with the yew trees is very thick. The ascent is demanding but short. As we get closer to the summit we can begin to see its few ruins of the medieval fortification of Choriza, which were probably built on the site of the Mycenaean watch tower of the Late Helladic Period. The view from the summit of the hill is beautiful.
There starts from Chora a marshy dirt road that goes down towards the sea and the village of Kalloni (total distance 7km). The road passes through the upper houses of the village and the Cathedral of the Birth of the Virgin Mary.
Kalloni is a traditional fishing village in the Bay of Epidaurus, opposite the peninsula of Methana. Gardens with orange trees, lemon trees and flowers, warm and clean seas, are the attributes that make Kalloni an ideal tourist destination for family holidays. It has touristic facilities with sufficient accommodation and tavernas. Along the length of the coastal road of Kalloni, before and after its small harbour, its pebble beach stretches out over a considerable distance, open to the sea with the Methana peninsula opposite. Since we went down to Kalloni SW from the mainland, we can make a small “detour” to also cover the coastal section of the trip from the junction towards Dryopi up to Kalloni (total distance 5km).
From the crossroad towards Dryopi, at about 2-2.5km a small, steep road goes down to our left towards Neratzia. Be careful as the direction (a sign) is seen only as we come from Kalloni. The road goes down and passes by the old Church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary hidden in the pine trees, which has been declared a listed monument. A few metres on, the road ends at the small, verdant green (the trees reaching down to the sea) coastal village of Neratzia, ideal for quiet and isolated holidays in nature.
As we return towards Kalloni and approach the village, we follow the dirt road on the left that takes us to Kalloni beach and its small harbour. However, before we arrive there, we can follow the sign to our left that writes Kantinais Beach Bar. This detour is really worth it as a few metres on we can acquaint ourselves with the extremely beautiful beach Votsalakia, with fine pebbles and azure water. In our opinion, the best beach in Trizinia. At Kalloni’s exit, towards Galatas, on a small hill on the left is the former, little Church of Saint Georgios. Access is only on foot and it is not easy due to houses, gardens etc. A visit is still worthwhile in order to enjoy the wonderful view.
Five minutes after Kalloni, on the coastal road towards Methana, we can see on our left the Dirlanta Restaurant, where a small beach with fine pebbles and sand is next to it. The eucalyptus trees reach down to the edge of the beach and offer cool shade.
From this point and in under 500 metres, we can see on our right the sign for the village of Evangelismos or Skapeti (5 km). Our aim is to visit Skapeti and from there the well-known Kokkinia Castle. The road goes up with continuous bends and as we go up it is worth making one or two stops to admire the view towards the Methana peninsula and in the distance on its right the citadel of Trizina.
We arrive at Evangelismos after 5km (from the point where we turned right). It is a small alpine village that was previously called Skapeti (ie hidden). The village came from the inhabitants of the Potamos village that was situated higher up from Kalloni. As we might imagine the main church of the village is dedicated in honour of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary . The most interesting sight to explore from here is to visit the renowned but still unknown to many today, Kokkinia Castle which is situated amongst three summits of the Aderes at 700m altitude. The roads that have been created on the slopes of the Aderes to facilitate the establishment of a new wind farm make this purpose easier.
There starts from the village (at the position of the bus stop) a dirt road with an initial direction towards the little Church of the Prophet Ilias (contemporary little church built in 1993)and which finally takes us, in 7-8km (20-30mins) to the point where a footpath to Kokkinia Castle starts. This point can be approached by two alternative roads, the 2nd brings us out exactly where the footpath to the gateway begins (10mins). The 1st brings us out at a sheep enclosure and from there we must go down the slope of a ravine in order to go up towards the gateway of the castle (total time 30mins).
Kokkinia Castle was the largest in area of the medieval castles in Trizinia and historically it is placed in the years of Frankish rule. Today, it is a collection of scattered piles of stone. Even its small gateway was destroyed, although it was erected again. It is worth walking everywhere around to feel some of its history and to admire the endless view towards the Bay of Epidaurus and the Methana peninsula. Inside the castle, at its NW extremity we can see the small Church of Saint Dimitrios.
We finish off our visit and go down again to the coastal road that comes from Kalloni. We turn right and in under a kilometre we can see ahead of us the wetland of the lagoon of Psiphta. We have two choices here: we can either continue on the main road that passes by the lower SW section of the lake and continues towards Galatas, or we turn left and move parallel to the coast and the northern side of the lake in the direction of Metamorphosi and Taktikoupoli.
The unknown, to most people, wetland of Psiphta is one of the most important wetlands of Greece. It belongs to the (threatened) type of wetland “coastal wetland” and has been declared as an “area of exceptional natural beauty”. Around its perimeter there have been erected wooden observatories from which we can better observe the landscape, the flying birds and to enjoy the tranquillity, simplicity and the beauty of the rare natural surroundings.
The coastal road continues between the sea on the left and the lagoon, on the right. The large, although uncared for, beach of Metamorphosi, with pebbles and sand, stretches along the length of the Psiphta wetland and continues after it up to the junction towards Metamorphosi (at the canal of Psiphta) with the name of Melissi. In the sea, in front of Metamorphosi beach, lies a submerged ancient civilization that is believed to have had up to 70,000 inhabitants.
From Metamorphosi, we go through Taktikoupoli on our return. We then continue on the coastal road towards Agios Nikolaos and we shortly see Dardiza,the biggest and best of all the beaches that we meet after Kalloni until Taktikoupoli. Abundant sand, it also has an organised section of the beach and also facilities for beach volley.
Leaving Dardiza and after the bend in the road we can see a small cove, the harbour of Ksyrolimni, where some fishing boats are moored. The landscape is very lovely, there is natural shade but on the small beach is washed ashore a lot of rubbish from the sea. After the small cove of Ksyrolimni, we can see the next deserted beach with pebbles and reasonably open to the sea in front of a dried up, old marshland.
Approaching Agios Nikolaos, we can see a picturesque cove with a rock in the sea that divides the beach into two. On one side of the rock there has been made a small stairway that takes us down to the remote and rocky beach. Just before the small harbour of Agios Nikolaos we pass on the left of our road a nondescript pebbly beach and continuing we end up at the small port of Agios Nikolaos. Behind it, looking at Methana, stands the homonymous old, little church (built in 1900). From this point, the road goes up towards Taktikoupoli and takes us to the Strait of the peninsula of Methana.
Taktikoupoli is a village built facing the Strait of Methana and the Fabvier Castle. It took its name from the French philhellene General Charles Nicolas Fabvier who organised here in 1826 the first corp of a regular army in Greece.
From here the road to the NW continues towards Methana. We follow it initially, turning right as soon as we see the sign for the Agapi Coast. The road passes through the homonymous village and goes down steeply to arrive at a very picturesque inlet with a pebbly beach and light azure, clear water.
We return towards Taktikoupoli. If we continue SE we go towards Agios Nikolaos and Vydi, but we can make this excursion coming from the opposite direction and for this reason we turn SW towards Metamorphosi. At the exit of Taktikoupoli, on our right we can see the all white (with an azure blue dome) Church of Zoodochos Pygi of Metamorphosi. From here we can enjoy the view of the Volari Bay (with Metamorphosi beach) and the west side of the Methana peninsula.
The road continues and takes us to the little Church of the Saints Apostoli, at the junction of the road that comes from Galatas towards Metamorphosi and Methana. From here we can either go SW towards Trizina (1st entrance) , back to Kalloni or SE towards Galatas. We turn left towards Galatas and in about 2km a small road goes off NW to the left towards the village of Agios Konstandinos (1km). Continuing straight on for 1.5km, we can see on our left a junction towards Vydi which we follow for the sightseeing of Central Trizinia. .