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Lakonia » Neapoli's surrounding area - Vatika

  • Monemvassia
  • Monemvassia
  • Gythio Town
  • Elafonissos Island
  • Diros Caves
  • Vathia
Velanidia in Vatika
Vatika Lakonia

Holidays in Neapoli are comfortable and relaxed. However, there are many interesting sites to see throughout the southern part of the Epidavros Limira peninsula.

Northwest of Neapolis and up to the northern tip of the bay, lie Viglafia and Pounta, the passage to Elafonisos. To the north-east, worth visiting are Mesohori and Faraklo, Ano Kastania with its famous cave, and Kato kastania and Cape Kamili with a view to the Myrtoon Sea. To the south-east lie Lahi, Velanidia and Cape Maleas, and to the south Agios Nikolaos, Profitis llias and Cape Zovolo.

If we take the southern route, we first meet irst the village of Lahi. Just before, to the left, is Kallenia, set in a beautiful, natural environment: plane trees and a fresh-water spring surround the church of Panagia. Then, back on the main road, we meet Lahi with its whitewashea houses, narrow streets and many churches. The sea is not far off either, with lovely beaches at Annmitsa and Paleokastro -Paleokastro can be reached from both Neapolis and here.

After Lahi, a left turn brings us to Velanidia (1st picture). If instead we stay on the main road, we reach the village of Agios Nikolaos and then the lovely area of Profitis Ilias. Further south we come at a cross-roads: to the right is the picturesque fishing village of Profitis Ilias, which looks to the sea from the southern coast of the peninsula; to the left, where we have a view of the tip of imposing Cape Maleas, are Agia Marina and Vromontas, where we can see ancient ruins, caves and small harbours which in earlier times served as pirate strongholds.

Then we take the road back, via Velanidia. As we approach the eastern coast the terrain becomes rockier, the landscape magnificent and the view towards the sea simply amazing. Only 1000 m from the sea, the houses of the village climb symmetrically up the slope, creating a unique aspect with their terraced layout. The village square is called Sidi, reminding us that the ancient town of that name was in this region. There are many old churches, including Agios loannis and Agios Panteleimon; their wall-paintings date from the 13th century. The harbour is divided into two: vessels to the right, the beach to the left.

On the way to the beach of Agios Pavlos, the road to the right leads to famous Cape Maleas. The cape has been notorious since ancient times for its contrary winds and the difficulties in navigating around it. Its height is 600 m. and there is a Venetian castle at the top. In ancient times it was the site of worship of many gods and has inspired religious awe in modern times as well: Its churches and chapels were so many that it was called the "Small Agion Oros". The churches of Agios Thomas and the monasteries of Agios Georgios and Agia Irini can still be seen.

Back to Neapolis again, this time to embark on an exploration of the north-east. After the castle of Agia Paraskevi we come to Mesohori and the churches of Agia Ypapanti and Agios Sotiras. Then, to the east, we come to the village of Faraklo, with its lovely views and its houses huddled around the square of the Evangelistria. Faraklo was a head-village for many years, the largest in Vatika; it was especially prominent in the 17th century, when it numbered among the ten largest settlements in the Peloponnese. Then we come to Ano (upper) and Kato (lower) Kastania, both built on sheer cliffs affording a view_of the sea from above, because of the threat of pirates. Nature is truly magical in this area, with different landscapes alternating in quick succession. In Ano Kastania a very impressive cave, the cave of Agios Andreas, has attracted much attention ever since a swarm of bees led to its discovery. Its length (in "corridors") is 93m, its depth 30m and it covers a ground area of 1,500sq.m. It is comprised of 18 chambers of various sizes, amply decorated by stalactites and stalagmites in a variety of colourful and fascinating combinations.

Yet there is still another nice route from Neapolis, this time to the nolth-west, to the semi-circular green plain formed by the Bay of Voiatiko. Taking the main road nolth, we first meet Kambos with its church dedicated to Agios Dimitrios, Profitis Ilias and Agios Kyprianos, Then we come to Agioi Apostoloi, the first settlement in Vatika that a traveller meets coming from Sparta. Then, leaving the main road and turning west, we meet Agios Georgios, set in lush- green surroundings. Many archaeological findings have been brought to light here, including Mycenaean tombs not unlike those of Neapolis. Further on we meet the Megali Spilia, the church of Agios Andreas and the small village of Agia Triada.

The beaches below Agios Georgios are among the best on the bay, with fine sand and shallow waters. They will put you in the mood for the long beach of Pounta, after Viglafia, a village that is becoming increasingly developed as a tourist resort in a region where many findings from the bronze age have been discovered: Pounta is a beautiful, endless beach with fine sand and many seashells, across from the northern tip of Elafonisos. Nearby is the islet of Pavlopetri, an archaeological treasure with a cemetery and a city that has been sunk since the bronze age. A strip of sea 350m -wide separates Pounta from Elafonisos.