Where Kynouria reaches the sea, where the Argolic Gulf wets with its waters the lacy beaches, ignoring the line that we people draw to separate them in Argolic and Arcadian beaches, is Astros. It is a village that is split in… two, the Inner village with its square, adorned with traditional cafeterias, and the Coastal village with its “Island”, the hill with the preserved houses and the medieval castle on its top. The small distance that separates it from Tripoli and from Athens has made Astros a popular destination for the summer weekends.
In the Inner Astros the main sight- and a reason to come all by itself- is the small but rather interesting Archaeological Museum that hosts findings from the excavations in the area, among which the marble inscriptions and the statues from the mansion of Herodes Atticus stand out. The museum is housed right next to the impressive neoclassical mansion, where in 1823 the 2nd National Assembly took place.
The Coastal Astros, 4 kilometers away, gathers the lion’s share in both visitors and sights (mainly in summer). First and best of all is its Frankish Castle, built in 1256 by Wilhelm Villehardouin, the French Prince of Achaia who also built Mystras. Today, the castle stands on top of the hill, enjoying a panoramic view of the entire Astros and of the sea that glistens in the horizon. The hill on which it is built is the place that the locals call “Island” (“Nisi” in Greek) and it is offered for evening strolling among traditional tile- roofed houses with flowery yards and ornate balconies.
On the hill’s “feet” there are the open theatre of Astros, which hosts theatrical performances and concerts in summer, the statue of the Mermaid Stheno that protects as a watchful guard the harbor, and the picturesque little church of Prophet Elijah that adds another white and blue hue to the already insular landscape. Right in front of the harbor there is the Ipsilanti Square and the cute walkways around it that are full of life every hour of the day and night.
If you want to go swimming without straying far from Astros, there are the beaches of Atsigganos and Kallisto, technically both inside the settlement, the first one in the north with sand, fine pebbles and shallow waters perfect for kids, and the second one in the south, right under the coastal walkway of Astros, organized with sun loungers and umbrellas. A bit southern, two kilometers from Astros, the Portes beach is also organized, with fine pebbles, crystal clear waters, and very popular with the lovers of surfing, as it is quite vulnerable to winds- if you want quiet waters, you should come early in the morning.
Four kilometers away from (Inner) Astros, in the region connected with Ancient Eva, there are two important sights: The built according to the tradition in 1117 Monastery of Loukous, with the impressive 17th century paintings of saints, and right across it the Mansion of Herodes Atticus- the one with the Odeon in Athens. The recent excavations brought to light aqueducts, baths, mosaics and statues in one of the most impressive samples of residential Roman architecture that we’ve ever found in Greece.
As we’re coming back from the beach, 6 kilometers south from Coastal Astros, we meet the wetland of Moustos Lake, in the healing waters of which every autumn an spring thousands of migrating birds make a stop on their long journey to and from the south. The lake’s waters are freezing, due to the undercurrent springs that supply it, and have healing properties, which means that a dive here during the hot summer days is perfect.
A bit further south, the village of Agios Andreas worth a stop, on your way to Leonidio, with the debris of Ancient Anthini almost next to its harbor, and the impressive Zarmpanitsa canyon that starts 5 kilometers outside the village and excites the lovers of hiking.