Out of all the places in Peloponnese, Pylos is the one that resembles most to an island
It has white houses, with red- tiled roofs, which are mirrored in its crystal clear waters that are almost still since the bay entrance is blocked by a peculiar little island, like a piece of puzzle, called Sphakteria. The view of the little island is visible by a fairytale like castle, called “Neokastro” (“New Castle”). Thoukididis refers to it, because here happened something unique- something that had never happened before and would never happen again.
Three short stories to begin with
There are three thousand years of History in Pylos, three admirals that the central square was named after and three will be our stories.
The first one is the most recent one, and probably the one you already know
It was here where, on October of 1827, the allied navies of the English, the French and the Russian beat the Ottomans and the Egyptians, confirming the positive outcome of the Greek Revolution for Independence that had started six years ago. It remained in History as the “Battle of Navarino”,
since that is how Pylos was then called. The three admirals, in honor of which the central square was named, were the British Edward Codrington, the French Henri de Rigny and the Russian Longine Heden.
Two thousand years ago
Here was again when for the first and last time in history, the Spartan army surrendered, after it was surrounded by the Athenians in Sphakteria- that small island, which seals the Bay of Pylos like a puzzle piece. That happened in 425 B.C. during the seventh year of the Peloponnesian War
Even further back
Here was the kingdom of Nestor
, in 1300 B.C., the wise old King who advised the heroes of Iliad, after telling them stories about his youth. Everyone listened to him, not just because he was older but mostly due to his accomplishments that include the war against the Centaurs and the Argonauts campaign, among others. And if you think these are just myths, his palace awaits 18 kilometers outside Pylos, exactly where he left it to go with Agamemnon and the others to Troy.
Strolling and sightseeing in Pylos
Neokastro (New Castle)
Don’t be fooled by its name, it’s not that new- it was built by the Ottomans in 1573, two years after the first debacle of their invincible at the time fleet during the Battle of Naupactus. It is called Neokastro because in the region there is an older, Frankish one built in 1278, called Palaiokastro (Old Castle), on the summit of one of the two hills that frame the amazing beach of Voidokilia.
The view of Pylos and the beach from the walls of Neokastro is a reason all by itself to come up here, but it is not the only one: Many of the castle’s buildings have been renovated or they are saved in good condition and host exhibitions and special events. The scattered canons in its big open spaces will thrill the kids. Lastly, the renovated Maizonos Building houses the Archaeological Museum of Pylos.
The Archaeological Museum of Pylos
It is recently renovated and it’s quiet impressive. It is located in Neokastro and hosts findings from the excavations of Pylos, Gialova, Iklaina and the surrounding areas. Gigantic maps and 3D digital representations will take you back in time, in 1600 B.C., and will teach you everything about the prehistoric kingdom of Nileas and his son, Nestor.
Trion Navarchon Square (The three Admirals Square)
The central square of Pylos enjoys the unobstructed view of the sea, covered in century old plane trees that make it cool in the summer and adorned with canons in honor of the Three Admirals of the legendary Battle of Navarino. The small tables that the cafeterias and the taverns have outside are the ideal stop for every afternoon or evening walk.
The boat rides in Sphakteria
You can visit this historical little island across Pylos either by boat that start early in the morning (during the summer season and early in the evening) for the sea ride in the bay, or by water canoe during the daily trips that include a pic-nic stop and swimming at the small beach of Sphakteria.
Do you know how many Mycenaean palaces in good condition have we got in Greece? One. As odd as it may sounds, it is one of the least popular archaeological sites of Peloponnese. However, it has many pros: You can easily wander inside the rooms of the king and queen, who lived here three thousand years ago, undisturbed by the crowds of tourists. You can admire the only ancient bathtub- along with its decorations- that you’ve ever seen, and you can gaze the view to the green hills around it that end up in the sea.
The impressive palace of Nestor is located in the village called Ano Eglianos, 17 kilometers outside of Pylos. If you can, you should plan your visit late in the evening so that you can enjoy the amazing sunset. Outside the palace, 90 meters from the entrance, in the olive grove there is an impressive vaulted tomb
like the ones in Mycenae, which dates back to 1600 B.C. The findings from the excavations in the palace and the tombs around it are kept in the National Archaeological Museum
Gialova and its lagoon
Eight kilometers away from Pylos there is Gialova, famous for its taverns that place their tables outside in the summer along the beautiful- and completely paved- beach. It also has one of the most important and most stunning wetland of Peloponnese, which you can find it in the maps as Divari Lagoon- but most people call it “lagoon of Gialova”.
Here is perched, on the side of the Ionian waters, the Palaiokastro we mentioned before. Here is also, from the side of the Ionian Sea, one of the most beautiful beaches of Peloponnese, the semi-circular Voidokilia,
with its turquoise waters and its powdery sand.