Kalavryta ……History – Tradition- True Nature …what else?
Welcome to the historic town of Kalavryta, one of the most exciting all year round destination of Peloponnese, built on the slopes of Mt. Helmos in an area of exquisite natural beauty! At 180 km from Athens and just 32 km from lovely beaches, it provides unique possibilities to the visitors.
A dreamy setting with picturesque squares, stone-paved streets and cute little houses welcomes the romantic souls! White in winter, multicoloured in spring – cool in summer and in earthy colours during fall, the town of Kalavryta is the ideal destination for natural activities, relaxation, skiing, trekking, holidays, religious tourism and the local gastronomy tasting!
In Kalavryta you have countless options: Archaeological sights, historical monuments, monasteries and scenes of exceptional natural beauty:
– The trademark of Kalavryta is its small train, the “Odontotos” (a rare example of a fully functional cog railway).
– Did you know that the monastery of “Agia Lavra” (Holy Lavra) is the symbolic birthplace of the modern state of Greece?
– Winter sport enthusiasts should definitely go to the Kalavryta Ski Center, one of the most renowned in Greece.
– Need more adrenaline rush? In the vicinity of Kalavryta you can simply go to the nearby beaches or follow hiking trails, hike down the Vouraikos gorge, go mountaineering, climbing, off-road driving, mountain biking and parachuting!
– Explore the Cave of the Lakes, a true wonder of nature whose walls are ornamented with colourful stalagmite and stalactite formations!
The Kalvryta area boasts comfortable hotels, where you can relax in high-class spa facilities and romantic guest houses or hospitable studios where you can enjoy delicious home-cooked meals next to a wood-burning fireplace!
The nightlife, the bars and the modern cafes combined with the magical beauty of the area, keep the tourist status of Kalavryta at very high levels all months of the year.
How to get to Kalavryta
Kalavryta town is located 77 km from Patras (1.5 h driving) and 180 km of Athens.
To get to Kalavryta from Athens it will only take a 2,5 hours drive. Take the highway from Athens to Korinthos and follow the highway to Patras. You pass Kiato town and Akrata town and you leave the highway for Kalavryta at Diakopto.
RECOMMENDED: Leave your car at Diakopto Village and take the small train “Odontotos” to Kalavryta. The train route is amazing…. journey 1 hour and 10 minutes through magnificent and eye-catching nature!
Kalavryta is the ideal place for adventure, individual or family holidays all year round as well as for people love nature away from mass tourist resorts……
Just 77km away from Patras, you will find Kalavryta, a region located at an altitude of 750 meters at the foot of Mt Helmou distinguished by graphic images, lush landscapes, very special archaeological and natural attractions to fill visitors with beautiful memories.
Many people are visiting Kalavryta both at winter time, due to the Ski Center and in summer time due to nice beaches you can find in a 30 minutes distance by car. The modern Ski Center is just 14km from the town of Kalavryta and it is an attraction for winter sports enthusiasts and for those who want to enjoy a trip on the magic forest of fir trees and endless view of Helmos. Nowadays, the location of Kalavryta is very important as it offers you a trip away from everyday life and gives you the opportunity to visit the mountain and sea, large villages and historic hamlets and have fun either with various activities at beautiful nature of Kalavryta or with a drink in the downtown area.
– The Holocaust of Kalavryta: The tragic history of Kalavryta reminds us the darkest side of human nature; in 1943 German occupying troops murdered all male population over the age of 14 and burned the town…Visit the memorial built to honour the dead, a large white cross on the top of the hill where the villagers had been executed, as well as the Municipal Museum of the Holocaust of Kalavryta where you can see exhibits related to the history and the traditions of the town.
– The monastery of Agia Lavra….a glorious era of Greek History: Did you know that the monastery of Agia Lavra is the symbolic birthplace of the modern state of Greece?
Only 3km away outside of Kalavryta town is situated the famous Monastery of Agia Lavra, where the Greek revolution against the Ottoman Empire was launched in 1821. It’s here that Germanos, archbishop of Patras, raised the standard of revolt. The monastery, one of the oldest in Peloponnese, was built in 961 AD, and it is situated on Mt. Helmos in Achaia, at an altitude of 961m. The monastery’s museum is devoted to historical treasures of the revolution, like the diamond-decorated Gospel, a gift from Catherine the Great of Russia, the Banner of the Greek Revolution, and the sacerdotal vestments of Bishop Germanos. A perfect occasion to visit the monastery would be on 25th March, when commemorative celebrations are held. The re-enactment of the gathering of the War of Independence captains and the raising of the Revolution’s Banner will certainly fascinate you! If you find yourself in Kalavryta, don’t miss the opportunity to become part of the spiritual atmosphere that this unique historic and sacred site creates.
– The Monastery of Mega Spileon ……in the great cavern: Don’t miss the awe-inspiring Monastery of Mega Spileon (Monastery of the Great Cavern) built in a giant cave and admire its wonderful frescoes and mosaic floors; The Mega Spileo Monastery is the oldest Greek Orthodox Monastery; built 924 m. above the sea level in 326 A.D. and has been destroyed four times. Nonetheless, the Holy Icon of Theotokos, which according to the tradition is ascribed to Luke the Evangelist, has always been saved.
The silhouettes of the monks with their long hair, full beards and erect figures testify that another way of life – the ascetic way, so different from our own – reigns here.
Today, one can admire a number of important and unique relics which are kept in a special hall. Every year, the monastery celebrates the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on the 15th of August.
– A trip on the little train “Odontotos” will give you a real taste of Kalavryta: “Odontotos” 22 km journey from Kalavryta to Diakofto is one of the most spectacular rack & pinion rail trips! The narrow gauge tracks follow the Vouraikos River through tunnels, over water-falls, along cliffs and through forests of pine and oleander.
– Kalavryta Ski Centre….a gift for snow lovers: On Mountain Helmos, at an altitude of 2,340m, we find the most important ski resort in Peloponnese. Being the second largest ski resort in Greece, it is located in a breathtaking fiery alpine landscape.
Due to its close proximity to Athens and to its first-class facilities many skiers visit it throughout the ski season. Kalavryta ski resort boasts: 7 lifts, 12 slaloms, a snowboard park, a special slalom mogul and a snow tubing park!
Visitors at Mt. Helmos can also find coffee shops, snack bars, restaurants, ski rental facilities and sporting goods, organized ski school and First Aid Station.
The Kalavryta Ski Centre with its modern facilities is mainly for skiing and other winter sports, but also, if you wish, just for enjoying the snowed landscape or the beautiful mountain forest.
– Did you know the Telescope Aristarchos? The telescope of the National Observatory of Athens named “ARISTARCHOS” is the largest telescope in the Balkans and the second largest in continental Europe, which is at the top “Neraidorahi” at Helmos at an altitude of 2,340 meters. Aristarchus was named in honor of the ancient Greek astronomer Aristarchus.
Traditional products of Kalavryta
And, of course, don’t miss to walk in the streets of the town and buy traditional products Kalavryta is famous for its cheese – pasta and other dairy products. Feta from Kalavryta is made from 100% goat milk of high quality with traditional way. Feta stands out because of its stable and rich flavour, it is a protected designation of origin product (PDO) in the European Union and because it can be used as a table cheese, as well as in culinary pleasures in Greek salad, cheese pies (tyropita) and other recipes.
Large varieties of pastas are created in local laboratories and are available for purchase.
Wines, extra virgin oil, herbs (mountain tea, chamomile, oregano), legumes (lentils, beans, peas, honey, local jams and a variety of spoon sweets are also available in local shops.
Also worth visiting:
The Cave of the Lakes: It is a rare creation of Nature. Apart from its labyrinth of corridors, its mysterious galleries and its strange stalactite formations, the “Cave of the Lakes” has something exclusively unique that does not exist in other well known caves. Inside the cave there is a string of cascading lakes forming three different levels that establish its uniqueness in the world. The cave is an old subterranean river whose explored length is 1980 meters. In winter when the snow melts, the cave is transformed into a subterranean river with natural waterfalls. In the summer months, part of the cave dries up revealing a lace-work of stone-basins and dams of up to 4 m. in height. The rest of the cave retains water permanently throughout the year in 13 picturesque lakes.
The cave is situated 20 km from Kalavryta and 9 km from Klitoria village.
The Cave’s Legend: Melampous was the first human who received the power of healing and the power to see the future from the gods. He lived in this cave. One day, the three daughters of King Proitos at Tiryns said, they were more beautiful than Goddess Hera and laughed about the Dionysus cult. Hera was so angry; she gave them a sickness of the brain.
The three girls were muddleheaded and thought they were cows. Roaring like cows they ran through the Argolis and the women they met were infected with the insanity and killed their own children. At last they came to the cave of Melampous, who healed them and brought them to the next village called Loussi.
This story is told by Pausanias, Greek writer, in his book Description of Greece.
Chelmos – Vouraikos Geopark: Geotourism and Geo-education
The Chelmos Vouraikos Geopark covers an area of 546 km2. It is located 200 km from Athens and 100 km from Patras and it is the third Greek geopark. It is of public benefit entity supervised by the Ministry of Environment and it is responsible for managing the Chelmos-Vouraikos protected area. Through Vouraikos Gorge, following the international path E4 and next to rows of picturesque railway carriages (Odontotos), one meets many geological formations. From Zachlorou village, one can follow the path to reach the monastery of Mega Spilaio and visit the museum there or take the train to historical Kalavryta where the headquarters of Geopark is. Here, you have the opportunity to visit the exhibition, learn more about our area and become a young explorer. Chelmos Vouraikos has several areas protected by local and national laws, sensitizing people to the importance of geo-conservation inside nature conservation.
Behind the mountains at the village Zachlorou: The village is built on a mountain slope south of the Vouraikos Gorge. It is located 12 km north of Kalavryta. Zachlorou can also be approached and seen through the journey with the Cog Railway (Odontotos). The name “Zachlorou” derives its origin from the slavian word “Zafkloro”, which means “behind the mountains”. Visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the village and can see the old water mill, which was owned by the Monastery of Mega Spilaio.
Planitero for hiking lovers: Planitero is an area of rare beauty as the huge forest of plane trees covering the whole area is rarely a source of oxygen and dense vegetation remains as God created it! The view and the landscapes created by plane trees and the Aroanios River will give you unforgettable moments. If you love mountain climbing and exploration, Planitero offers ideal trails for hiking activities and from there begin many routes of climbing as the path E4. Here the restaurants with spectacular views allows all visitors to taste the famous trout or sturgeons (from this fish produced the best caviar) that breed in the area. Planitero is located 25 km away from Kalavryta.