Pylos -Town, History
Built in the south-western part of the Peloponnese, in the beautiful environment of the Messinian land and overlooking the Ionian Sea, Pylos, this picturesque town of the 2,500 residents, enchants with its beauty both locals and visitors. Pylos is known for the famous Naval Battle of Navarino (1827) in which the victory of the allied forces was the beginning of the liberation of Greece from the Turkish rule.
Pylos is a new town, which was built in 1828 after the Naval Battle of Navarino by French engineers of General Maison and was inhabited by residents of Asia Minor, the Ionian Islands and Moraitika. It borrowed its name from the neigh boring Homeric Pylos of the famous Nestor. The town is amphitheatrically built according to a peculiar architectural design. There dominates the beautiful square with the imposing monument of the three Admirals with two cannons from the Naval Battle of Navarino, a Venetian and a Turk one. The houses of Pylos are white, made of stone, with red roofs and backyards.
The harbor of Pylos is one of the largest and safest harbors in the world, with a length of 4800 m and a width of 3600 m. The sea reaches 50 meters depth. The island of Sphaktiria in front of the bay of Navarino, serves as a natural breakwater. In the south of the island is located the islet of Pylos or Tsichli-baba or Fanari. There, in 1890 the French Republic constructed a monument for the French dead of the Naval Battle of Navarino. In the center of the bay of Navarino lies the islet of Chelonisi or Chelonaki that was named so due to its shape that resembles to a turtle. Over Chelonisi was erected a monument for the English dead men of the Naval Battle of Navarino.
At the edge of the settlement, in the southern part of the bay, dominates Niokastro, one of the best-preserved fortresses in Greece with beautiful pine trees and important monuments, which is an excellent example of military architecture from the 16th century onwards. In Niokastro is housed the building of Pasha, the Museum of Underwater Antiquities, a new museum with important archaeological treasures of the seas and shipwrecks of the Peloponnese. The barracks of Maison, the rectangular two-storey stone building, which you will see on your left as you enter the castle, is used by the marine antiquities center. At a central point rises the church of the Transfiguration of the Savior. The walk on the road around Niokastro unfolds magnificent views over the bay of Navarino and the open sea of the Ionian.
High on the hill above the town of Pylos stands the church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the port is located next to the Town Hall and next to it lies the renovated two-storey house of the Olympic champion Kostis Tsiklitiras, where is hosted the remarkable collection of the philhellene René Puaux. In the listed Old High School is hosted the Institute of Astral Particle Physics “Nestor” of the National Observatory, where is conducted one of the most important scientific experiments worldwide, with the placement of an Underwater Neutrino Telescope at the bottom of the sea.
The archaeological museum of Pylos houses findings coming from excavations in Pylia and dating from the Neolithic Age to the Roman period.
North of Pylos is located, in the Ionian Sea, the stunning bay of Voidokilia with its beach and over it dominates Paleocastro from which the view enchants. The Divari lagoon, north of Pylos between the village of Gialova and the bay of Voidokilia, is of interest both ecological and archaeological. The land area of 6,000,000 sq. m. is a major migratory bird stop and hosts Caretta-Caretta turtle and the African Chameleon.
On the road of Chora – Pylos, 15 km from Pylos, on the hill of Ano Eglianos, beside the road, lies the Palace of Nestor, with excellent views over the bay of Navarino and Voidokilia.
Pylos is 290 kilometers from Athens, 216 from Patras and 51 from Kalamata. The nearest airport is that of Kalamata (40 minutes).
Pylos is mentioned by Homer as the Kingdom of Nestor that, according to the tradition, was founded by the legendary Pylos and was initially called Koryfasio. In classical antiquity, it was almost constantly under the rule of Sparta. In Byzantine times, around the 6th century (then it was called “Zoglos”) it was occupied by the Avars and was named Avarinos, from which came, according to a view, the name Navarino, “Neo Avarino”, with which was determined the entire bay of Pylia along with the surrounding fortresses, opposite the islands of Proti and Sapientza , from which is equidistant . According to another version, the name Navarino is of Slavic origin and means “place with maples”.
The distribution of the Byzantine Empire by the Franks and Latins of the 4th Crusade brings Nicholas II Saint Omer dominant in the region and founder (1278) of Palaiokastro, a strong fortress for the control of the seas and coasts. In 1460 Navarino was conquered by the Ottomans, who eventually chose as a new base of operations the newly built (1573) Niokastro. The inhabitants of Navarino suffered inhuman massacres from the part of the Albanians as a payback for the unsuccessful revolution of the Orlovs (1770). In the bay of Navarino took place the redemptive Naval Battle of Navarino (20 October 1827) between Turks –Egyptians and the allied forces of the European fleet, which finalized the new, for the region and for the entire Greece, status: freedom!
Today Pylos is an important shipping center and tourism has grown significantly since the whole area is one of the most beautiful areas of Greece. In the development of tourism of Pylos played a significant role the creation of the tourism unit Costa Navarino of the now deceased Captain Vasilis Konstantakopoulos, which is the “crown jewel” of the area and is not only the largest tourist facility of the Mediterranean and Europe, but also is one of the 2-3 greatest and best in the world!