This isn’t the only place where Laconia touches the sea-it’s quite the opposite: Mani has the “heavy artillery” of beaches, Monemvasia is “a sailing rock ship”, as the Greek poet Giannis Ritsos said, and Gerakas is the Greek answer to the Norwegian fjord. However, here is the strangest and most special place. So therefore the most magical one.
Where Mt. Parnonas dives in the sea, where Myrtoo Sea reaches the horizon, there nestles Kyparissi. It is at a Peloponnesian tip that dangerously looks like the end of the world. It is not easy to get there: You have to drive four hours from Athens, and two from Sparta, which crosses winding turns under enormous rocks, over the hills of Parnonas.
There are three neighbors-settlements, to which the approximately 400 residents are divided: The mountainous Vrisi, about 100 meters above the level of the sea, is the first one that you meet as you descend from the winding road of Parnonas. Paralia (beach in Greek) is the star in many photos of Kyparissi, and the one that gathers the lion’s share in visitors, with its rooms to let, the bars and its taverns. Lastly, there is Mitropoli, the last but not less interesting part of the village that overlooks to its most beautiful beach.
The narrow alleyways of the village can barely fit a car. In their majority, they zig zag among two-storey, white-washed houses, some of them with blue window shutters, all with red tiled roofs, and many of them with impressive arches, built in this way to resemble a sweet, island-like, architectural collage- an island at the tip of Peloponnese. Above them rises the imposing and lush green Parnonas, while among them there are small house yards that look like tiny squares, as they are without a fence, well taken care of and welcoming in one of the rarest parts of the world, where the boundaries between the private and public space are blurry.
Megali ammos beach, as well as its natural extension, Mikri ammos, are located at Paralia- the part of Kyparissi called Paralia. It has black and white, mixed like the pawns on the chessboard, fine pebbles, crystal clear waters, and trees that provide natural shade under the ruthless sun.
Agia Kyriaki beach, a bit more than a kilometer away, in front of the neighbor of Mitropoli, has also got pebbles, with impressive rocks around it, and a panoramic view to the village that accompanies your dips there.
Megali ammos beach is the one that “looks the sun right in the eye” as it rises from the waters of the Myrtoo Sea, reaching the line of the horizon, since there is no visible land to see. And this is the magic of being at the tip of the world.
For centuries Kyparissi was so cut off from the rest of Peloponnese, at its magnificent tip, that we know very few things about its History. Let’s say that we know that in antiquity it was called Kyfanta, and that Pausanias (that travelled around Greece in the 2nd century A.C.) came here, only to find it desolate. In his Lakonika (ΙΙΙ.24.2) he refers to a cave, in which Asclepius was worshipped, with a marble statue of the god inside and a spring that sprouted from the rock-which was probably created by Atalanti, who was hunting there, got thirsty and hit the rock with her spear.
Nowadays, at the rock’s foot is built the neighbor of Vrisi, while inside the same rock, very close to the spring that the locals still call “the spring of Atalanti” is built the church of Panagia.
On the hill that rises at the south side of Paralia, there are the remnants of the castle that some sources refer to it as Byzantine, even if it is probably part of the ancient city’s fortification. The view from the top to Kyparissi and to the sea is a reason by itself to climb here.
In general, the lovers of hiking won’t be disappointed by coming at Kyparissi: A broad path network connects the neighbors of the village, the neighboring villages and the slopes of Parnonas. One of the nicest and easiest walks you can go is the one that connects Paralia with Agios Georgios, after half an hour of walking or 1.7 kilometers. The path crosses a lovely smelling pinewood, meets wooden benches for resting, constantly enjoys an amazing view to the sea, and ends up at a perfect spot for cliff diving. The route that connects Kyparissi with the mountainous village of Kremasti is fantastic-although it’s more difficult- and crosses 10 kilometers of unique, natural landscape. In order to walk it, you will need five hours.
It is a twenty minute drive from Kyparissi, through the new coastal highway that opened on September 2018. It is called Fokiano and it has transparent waters, so green that seem fake, and big, white pebbles. It nestles in the perfectly semicircular creek, which is enclosed by two green slopes of Parnonas that dip in the sea. There is no land to be seen in the horizon- far away, at the imaginary, line is Milos Island, but no matter how much you try you won’t be able to see it. A fish tavern at the back of the beach spreads its tables on the pebbles and serves the catch of the day fried, with the crickets’ song and the sound of the waves as a background music. Simple, pure magic.