“The Path of Mystras” was called by the Byzantine the route that connected the stone city with the rest of Greece. This route crossed the side of probably the most beautiful mountain of the Peloponnese, passing by enchanted gorges, imposing castles and rivers whose names derived from ancient Greek myths, through villages unchanged by time, and over mountain picks with a view in the fertile valley of Evrotas. Today it still follows the same route.
One of the quietest villages of North Taygetos, the picturesque Loganikos, nestles in an altitude of 750 meters, where Taygetos reaches Parnonas under the shadow of the byzantine castle, from which not much is saved today. The lovers of hiking though, will be thrilled by the path (which is kind of rough) that climbs up here, passing by the byzantine churches of Saint Dimitrios and Gennisis of Theotokou. These are two out of the seven byzantine churches that are saved in the village. If you have time to visit just one, the stone- built church of Saint George that dates back to 1374, is considered as one of the oldest preserved churches of Taygetos. In the sights of the village is included a byzantine tower house of the 14th century, while 9 kilometers away from Loganikos, the Ampelakiou Monastery is also worth a visit, whose pride is an icon of Panagia Makelaritissa that was made by the Evangelist Luca.
And it’s not just these: Agoriani, a village nestled on a green side of the mountain with its twelve churches is at the end of the chest nut forest, which starts from Georgitsi. Alevrou that has red- tiled roofs and running waters. Vordonia, which are divided in seven parts, with its impressive mansions. And plenty more tiny villages that combine a region suitable for endless exploring.
Seven kilometers outside Kastori there is a tiny little village with few residents, which you probably wouldn’t be able to find in the tourist guides, unless something extraordinary didn’t happen that is probably the first big archaeological discovery of the 21st century.
The archaeologist, Theodoros Spyropoulos, believes that he has discovered the palace of Menelaus and of Helen of Troy despite the fact that his colleagues are opposed to this( as always: to Andronicus they told that what he discovered wasn’t the tomb of Phillip, to Blegen said that the palace of Nestor wasn’t Nestor’s until they were all proved wrong). The mere size of the vaulted tombs, the cyclopean walls and of the citadel prove that this was indeed a gigantic Mycenaean palace. So, if it doesn’t belong to Menelaus, who ruled in the region, we don’t know who it belonged to. One thing is for sure, ancient Pellana with its vaulted tombs and the cyclopean walls definitely worth a visit.
The brother of Helen of Troy, one of the twins of the Gemini constellation (the other was Pollux) and hero of the Argonaut Campaign, has given his name to the river, which , in turn, named the village next to it. One of the most beautiful, and easy, hiking routes of North Taygetos is the one that follows the river path, passing under century- old plane trees that almost hide the sky, above wooden bridges and by old watermills debris.The route is almost flat, that’s why it’s easy, and full of signs- even if you have never passed through a path before, it is difficult to lose your way. It always moves in accordance to Kastoras River, whose sound musically follows the route. After forty minutes of hiking, approximately, the path ends up to Marmarogefyro, the old, arched bridge of Kastoras, which is very close to the village.
You might also hear people call it Kardaris gorge or Vrisiotikou gorge. However the name doesn’t play any role, since you will find yourself lost inside this magical landscape that starts from Georgitsi and ends up in Kastori (or vice versa as the professional hikers, who love the uphill, do it), which passes by tufted plane, fir and chest nut trees, and among huge reddish rocks that create narrow passages.The route is 6.6 kilometers long and is filled with signs (in many places it has wooden steps and handrails for easier access) and you can walk it down – from Georgitsi to Kastori- within two hours approximately. The ideal seasons to visit are the end of spring and the beginning of autumn – from November till April the path can be dangerous due to the corrosion that the rushing torrent waters cause at some points.