Homer called it Kiparissienta and during the Middle Ages they called it Arcadia- probably because many Arcadians came here and settled to save themselves from the Slavic raids. The myth says that it took its name from Kiparissos, a friend of Apollo, who once aimed, during his hunting, and mistakenly killed the deer that the god had given him. Inconsolable as he was, he asked from gods to die and Apollo took pity of him and turned him into a tree, which was devoted to Pluto and then become-and still remains- a symbol of grief throughout the centuries.
Nowadays, Kiparissia is a lively town of 5.000 residents approximately, which reaches from the one side the turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea and from the other the mountain sides of Aigaleo Hill, or Psychro as the locals call it. On its top there is a Frankish Castle, around whose walls spreads down, towards the sea, a doll- like town, full of color and grace.
You will love walking around its picturesque alleys and among the colorful mansions with their characteristic wooden balconies.The car should be parked on the large plateau outside the gate of the castle, since the only way to enjoy its beauty is by walking. Behind every corner and every turn there is another amazing view of the sea and of the tiled roofs of the town that spread from side to side. Whatever you do make sure you stay till the gorgeous sunset: Kiparissia is oriented west and the infinite blue of the Ionian Sea reaches the horizon, which means that from up here you can see the sun diving in the sea.
High above, where the Old Town ends, rise the walls of the Frankish castle with the wonderful pseudonym, the Castle of Giants- or more commonly, Castle of Arcadia. Founded on cyclopean walls, with huge boulders, the castle, as you can see it today, was built by the Franks on top of an older byzantine castle, which in turn was built on top of the ancient citadel. The citadel was the one which people believed it was built by Giants and that is how it took its name and was it passed down to three more castles three thousand years later.On the Castle of Giants died the last Frank leader of Peloponnese, writing in this way the epilogue of the Frankish Rule in the Peloponnese that lasted 200 years, from 1205 to 1432. The castle then was conquered first by the Byzantines, then by the Ottomans, later by the Venetians and was conquered back by the Ottomans. Today, from the castle are saved, in relatively good condition, the walls, the tower of the east side, known as “Tower of Justinian”, and some battlements. It has an easy access as the paved road leads you directly to the castle’s gate.
From the north side of Peristeria begins the path that ends up in the amazing Stalactites Gorge, which took its name from the cave which is located and its stalactites. It is an easy and idyllic route that will excite the lovers of hiking, beginners and experts, as it passes through a natural landscape, under old plane trees and by running waters- the river here is called Arkadikos.
The path from Peristeria to the cave is 1.7 kilometers in total, which means that you can cross it easily in one and a half hour. On the last part of the route the path ends up on a specially designed space with a spring of fresh water and a wooden bridge, which is literally the beginning of the gorge. To cross the gorge you will need galoshes or shoes that you can wet.