14th stop: Kyparissia
Kyparissia is another town in Messenia in the southwest part of Peloponnese. It is part of the municipality Trifylia, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. The town has around 6,000 inhabitants and is located halfway between Pyrgos and Methoni, approximately 65 km south of Pyrgos and about 16 km south of the Neda River. The town is built on terraces. In the Middle Ages, it was known as Arkadia.
Kyparissia is an ancient coastal town of great beauty. There were times in the past where it was a town of some importance, being situated near ancient Olympia and Pylos. It has been inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC. From Homer’s Iliad we know that Kyparissia belonged to the kingdom of Nestor and that it participated in the Trojan War. During the Roman times it was at its peak of development, minting its own coins, but also during the Byzantine period it enjoyed significant economic growth.
Olive growing dominates the local agriculture; the town is almost surrounded by olive groves and trees and mixed farming. You’ll find forests including cypresses and pines to the east side of town.
There is an acropolis and a fortress built during the Frankish period. The fortress is a vivid testimony to the historical eras of the town. The castle dominates the old town and its view to the Ionian Sea is quite unique. From here you may enjoy a spectacular sunset while your thoughts drift in time.
The town center is nearly 200 m from the shoreline of the Ionian Sea, which includes the nearby Gulf of Kyparissia, and west of the nearest mountains. The town has a port to the northwest part of the bay; its barriers are almost shaped like the letter G. The port is mainly used for cargo purposes and has no ferry services.
At Kyparissia, Memi, Kalo Nero, Agrilos-Stomio and Elaia there are sandy beaches and these are considered to be as good as those to be found on Zakynthos.
Fauna: The shoreline features Loggerhead sea turtles, also know as Caretta caretta. The loggerhead, is an oceanic turtle distributed throughout the world. The average loggerhead measures around 90 centimeters (35 in) long when fully grown, although larger specimens of up to 270 centimeters (110 in) have been discovered. It spends most of its life in saltwater with females briefly coming ashore to lay eggs. The loggerhead sea turtle has a low reproductive rate. Loggerheads are considered an endangered species and are protected by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Untended fishing gear is responsible for many loggerhead deaths. They may also suffocate if they are trapped in fishing trawls. Loss of suitable nesting beaches and the introduction of exotic predators has also taken a toll on loggerhead populations.
The Neda river begins in the mountains of Lykaio to the west through a mixture of barren rock and forests, it flows into the Messinia prefecture and near the village of Neda which owes its name from this river, for the next 40 to 50 km it flows with the boundary of Messinia and Ilia prefectures for the rest of its length and covers the most length. It passes into the forests, marshes and the delta at the small plain area 2 km west of the highway of the GR-9/E55 (Pyrgos – Kyparissia) and into the Ionian Sea with the Gulf of Kyparissia.
Things to do
Hiking: Peloponnese often surprises you with its variety of natural beauty. One of these surprises is the Neda waterfalls.
The routes combine the unique natural beauty of the gorge with waterfalls, natural tunnels, and the vegetation of the area along with the opulent cultural and monumental profile of Ancient Phigaleia.
A huge plane tree in Ancient Krini, situated in the eastern edge of the Phigaleia, is proposed as the starting point. After crossing the area of the stone-built settlement, with direction to the south, after 500 meters we reach the edge of the gorge. From this point, you follow a path with wooden steps and handrails so that it can be accessible to the public. It leads to the “White Water” waterfall on the conflux of the Lymax affluent and Neda River.From the wooden bridge the visitor gets a spectacular view of the waterfall. The waters, which fall from 60 meters high, break into foam and whiten, while the flora create a charming and fascinating landscape. From the “White Water” waterfall the daring visitors can cross the gorge in the summer following the flow of Neda’s waters. In almost two hours hike you’ll reach the arched stone-built bridge which joins Elia with Messinia. From there, following the river bed or the shaped track at the northern edge of the bed, you’ll arrive at the “Stomio” where the river vanishes roaring in a tunnel of 100 meters. Until that point the river was floatable in antiquity. From there the river bed expands ending smoothly in the Gulf of Kyparrisia. The area of Stomio is the most impressive point of the gorge. The trail requires attention and ability to walk steadily, children at the age of 6 should be able to come along. The sight is definitely worth the trip.
Health traveling: The “Thermal Springs of Kaiafas” is a spa in the municipality of Zacharo in Peloponnese. It is located 30 km south-east of Pyrgos and nearly 32 km north of Kyparissia. The Thermal Springs of Kaiafas, is a geological formation that consists of a spring where warm water comes from deep inside the Earth’s crust and flows up to the surface. The spring is located inside a naturally formed cave at the foot of Lapithas mountain. The water of the spring contains an important concentration of sulfur compounds and is also rich in minerals. It has therapeutic properties, and there is a spa facility exactly outside of the cave’s mouth. The spa has been a major tourist attraction and is visited by people who want to bath in the thermal water of the spring. The springs location is very close to the Kaiafas Lake and the sandy beaches of the Ionian sea coast.