Nestled on a verdant slope of Mt. Helmos, in an altitude of 750 meters, Kalavrita is one of these destinations that have something for everyone: Do you like lazy strolls in tree-covered squares that smell as freshly cut Greek coffee? They have it. Do you fancy hiking in nature and doing slalom in snowy mountainsides? One of the best ski centers in Greece almost hangs on top of it, and a marvelous gorge starts from its edge. Do you want sights? From caves and monasteries to museums and small natural wonders, you won’t be able to choose what to see first. Do you like history? Well, here we’ll have to open a parenthesis.
A small historical parenthesis
The odd case about Kalavrita is that this small corner of Peloponnese has been recorded in the collective subconscious both as a place of martyrdom and of glory. Here, in the monastery of Agia Lavra, 5 kilometers away from the village, was declared the National Revolution of 1821. Also, here was written one of the bloodiest pages of World War 2, when on 13 December 1943 the Nazis executed all of men in town who were over 14 years old. A gigantic white cross on the hill of Kapi, half kilometer away from the town, pays tribute to the victims. Big white pebbles form with their shade the words “no more wars”.
All this history that we shall not forget, is being narrated by the really interesting Municipal Museum of the Kalavrita Holocaust, that is housed at the old primary school at the center of Kalavrita.
Walking down the center of Kalavrita
After the execution that went down in History as “The Massacre of Kalavrita”, the village was burned and destroyed almost entirely and that is the reason why its center doesn’t have the picturesqueness of other mountain villages in Peloponnese- the houses were hastily rebuild to serve needs much more urgent than the merely aesthetic ones.
However, 70 years later, it is a very alive village, with beautiful walkways, rustic taverns, cheerful cafés and night life that is missing from other “winter” destinations. In other words, it is the ideal base to explore the magical nature and the endless sights around the village, whereas from its picturesque railway station starts daily one of the most beautiful routes-by-train in Greece, the Cog railway Odontotos.
The Kalavrita ski center
In general terms, it is one of the best ski centers in Greece. It has impressive ski and snowboard trails, ideal not only for the beginners but also for the advanced, a very good snow park, super interesting activities for children and grown-ups, routes for snowmobiles and sleighs and one of the most beautiful and largest beginners ski runs, Harmonia that crosses more than 2.5 kilometers through the fir tree forest of Helmos starting from the middle of the mountain and ending up on its base.
The nature around Kalavrita is reveling…
A forest of huge plane trees that hugs the headwaters of Aroanios River, in a landscape so magical that almost persuades you that if the fairies truly existed, they would start dancing there. Close to that heaven on earth with the crystal clear running waters, there are two trout farms- fish farms that serve the famous trout of the region to crowds of hungry visitors.
At the Vouraikos Canyon
We don’t mean to confuse you, Vouraikos is the name of the river, and Odontotos is the name of the small train that crosses the canyon, following the route Diakofto- Kalavrita. The reason why most people refer to it as “Odontotos Canyon” is because the railway was once famous across Greece for its marvelous route. For almost 20 kilometers spreads the beautiful canyon that we suggest you better walk through it- at least a part of it- than just gaze at it through the train’s window.
At the Spileo Limnon (Cave of the Lakes)
One of the most impressive caves in Greece that has thirteen natural lakes spreading on three floors and stalactites
forming magical pictures- if you do not have a vivid imagination the tour guides during the tour every half hour point out to you that you can see a castle here, a medusa there and so on. The height of the cave is truly impressive as its roof stands 30 meters above the ground, while the atmospherically lit trails cover a length of 500 meters of the total two kilometers, which remains to be exploited.
At the vineyard of Pausanias
Before you rush to think “will you send me to see vines?” we call you to answer if you’ve ever seen before a 3.000 years old vine hugging the trees around it with its branches that reach the 100 meters in length. Pausanias vine
is a small natural wonder that the well- known traveler of antiquity describes it as a rather remarkable phenomenon. With the same admiration you will also stand in front of it, almost two thousand years later, at the yard of Saint Nicholas church, at the village called Pagrati.
The most important sights around Kalavrita
The Mega Spileo
Ten kilometers away from Kalavrita, in the shade of an enormous rock that brings in mind the awe you feel at Meteora, the Mega Spileo Monastery
was build there at 362 A.C. it was burnt and destroyed many times in its long history but survived till the present day and remains able to visit (the view from the balcony is spectacular) and adorned with 17th
Known throughout Greece as the place where Palaion Patron Germanos first raised the banner of the Greek Revolution, the Monastery of Agia Lavra, dating back to the 10th
century, houses today relics that include the same legendary banner, an embroidered in Smyrna Epitaph of 1754, a Gospel donated by Empress of Russia Catherine II the Great and the golden-embroidered vestments of Palaion Patron Germanos among other things. It can be visited, of course- 5 kilometers away from Kalavrita, in a wonderful place at the foot of Mt. Velia.
Once upon a time there lived a prophet, Melabodas that with the help of the goddess Artemis healed the daughters of a king from madness. One of them actually married him and their progeny, after many years, became kings of Argos. For her help, Artemis took in return a temple here that at some point was covered in dust and was forgotten- until at the end of 19th
century Austrian archaeologists discovered it and it is open for visit now. It is called Temple of Artemis Imerisia
, not from the Greek word “imera” which means day, but from the Greek verb “imerevo” that means soothes the tortured souls. Around the temple they have also excavated some houses and the agora of the town- all dating back to the 3rd
century B.C. approximately. The archaeological site is located 15 kilometers away from Kalavrita, at the village Lousoi.