One the west side of the Lykaian mountain, where the prefectures of Messinia, Ilia and Arcadia cross with each other, the beautiful Ambeliona stands out, a small village built amphitheatrically and perched at an altitude of 840 meters. 220 kilometers - and approximately two and a half hours' drive - away from Athens, the verdant village of Ambeliona is a hidden natural treasure of Peloponnese, gaining more and more visitors and nature-lovers over the last few years.
If you were Greek, you could easily understand that the village got its name from all the vines that were cultivated by the inhabitants, since ancient times. The village is surrounded by lucious nature, centered on the protected Kastanodasos, which is full of chestnut trees and ultimately the only protected one in the entire Western Peloponnese. If you come across some of the elder locals, they will describe to you all about how the first chestnut trees in Ambeliona were planted during the Frankish period.
Then they will also tell you about the mythology that surrounds the sacred Arcadian mountain, Mount Lycae. It may not be that high (since it is approximately 1420 meters), but its history is very long and full of myths. The most important is the following: they hid the newborn Zeus there, whose upbringing was then undertaken by Theisoa, Neda and Agno. The myth even describes that no one could ever see Zeus’ shadow and if someone dared to enter the avata, death would find him within a year. If by any chance you want to visit the place where the sanctuary of Lycaeus Dios was, then you have to follow the "Sacred Path" that starts from Ambeliona and reaches the top of Snt. Lia. Then you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Peloponnese.
Let’s get back to Ambeliona, which, in addition to chestnuts and vines, has countless oak trees in stone threshing grounds as well as a wonderful natural landscape, full of running waters that every visitor would be fascinated of. The stone-built houses with the wooden railings give a nostalgic touch to Ambeliona, as do the lampposts and the traditional fountains which travelers love to stop by. On the other hand, the paved alleys of the village seem ideal for photo- caption and Instagram stories as well.
When you enter the village, you will then fall in love with the "Trani Fountain" that dominates the area. This is perhaps the most important sightseeing of Ambeliona,that impresses every visitor, thanks to the four faucets ("koumbles") and the inspired marble construction with domes, arches and pesses. The Greek Ministry of Culture gave "Trani Vrysis" the designation of a preserved building, raising even more the significance of this monument.
Before visiting the square, you will also take notice of the stone-built building of the Primary School - now it has been turned into a hostel - which looks like it was taken from a famous painting. The building is a donation of the rich and famous Greek Andreas Syngrou. Then, by climbing a hill, the visitor can see the church of Saint Nikolaos, which is equally impressive as it was built entirely of stone. The small churches of Prophet Elias and Saint Paraskevi are also very picturesque, gaining the attention of all the people passing by.
Ambeliona creates wonderful natural postcards with green ravines to its passers-by and travelers, while there is a wonderful network of paths that will steal the hearts of all experienced hikers and cyclists in Greece. The Apollo Trails network, which has its headquarters in AMBELIONA gains its reputation as one of the best throughout Greece.
Via eight cycling and nine hiking routes, the network crosses one of the most beautiful parts of Peloponnese at the imaginary borders of Messinia, Ilia and Arcadia. There, nature walkers and cyclists will be thrilled by forests, ravines, wild vegetation and magnificent rocky mountains. The temple of Epicurius Apollo, the sanctuary of Panos, the springs of Neda and the altar of Zeus on Mount Lykaio and the spring of Tritseli certainly steal the impressions at the fork of the paths, offering "photo frames" of wild beauty to anyone lucky enough to find themselves there.
Ambeliona will also be remembered by visitors and residents for two other main reasons. One is the chestnut festival that takes place on the last Sunday of every October when people from all over Greece come to the village just to taste chestnuts, beans and many more local delicacies, but also to enjoy a 4 kilometer route of incomparable beauty through the neighboring and protected brown forest.
The courtyard of the "Theodoros Angelopoulos" cultural center lives moments of glory in every chestnut festival. Theodoros Angelopoulos was a great and multi-awarded Greek director from Ambeliona, that’s why this place has taken its name.
Ancient Gortyna, Neda, Saint Theodora, Andritsaina and Karytaina are just a breath away from Ambeliona. So there are no excuses as to why you should not visit them for nearby escapes! All of the above turn the small village of Messinia into the ultimate destination for unforgettable holidays in Peloponnese.