On the northern side of Peloponnese, you find the small mountainous town of Kalavryta. Set amidst a beautiful landscape, Among the Greeks, Kalavryta is a popular winter destination with its ski center on the slopes of Mount Helmos.
Near Kalavryta, you will find several interesting sights, like the miraculous Cave of the Lakes, the historical Monastery of Agia Lavra, where the Greek Revolution was declared in 1821, and the Monastery of Mega Spileo, carved onto a mountain wall. The most significant and tragical historical event of Kalavryta was in December 1943 when the Nazi troops burnt down the village and killed all male inhabitants in the town. On a hill above the village a holocaust monument has been raised to commemorate this tragedy.
Where is Kalavryta Greece?
Kalavryta is a small town and a municipality on the northern side of Peloponnese, in the east-central part of Achaea in mainland Greece. It is located about 40 km south of the town Aigio, 38 km south of GR-8/E65. Kalavryta symbolizes freedom in Greece because of its recent history. In the Monastery of Agia Lavra, the Greek War of Independence was declared in 1821.
Kalavryta on the map
Today, Kalavryta has developed as a major winter holiday destination in Greece. The reason for this is first of all for its ski center on the slopes of Mount Helmos. You will find 12 runs with a total length of 20 km, suitable for for beginners and advanced skiers. The center has 7 ski lifts. Nearby, you will find many interesting monasteries and other sights, waiting for you to visit during you stay in Kalavryta. You can also choose to trek through the Gorge of Vouraikos and enjoy spots of stunning natural beauty. Kalavryta is the place to combine skiing and hiking.
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Sightseeing in Kalavryta
The Monastery of Agia Lavra is a monastery near Kalavryta. It was built in 961 A.D, on Helmos Mountain, at an altitude of 961 meters, and can be described as the symbolic birthplace of modern Greece. It stands as one of the oldest monasteries in the Peloponnese. It was built in 10th century but was burnt to the ground in 1585 by the Turks. It was rebuilt in 1600 while the frescoes by Anthimos were completed in 1645. It was burnt again in 1715 and in 1826 by the armies of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt. In 1850 after the rebirth of modern Greece, the building was completely rebuilt. The monastery was burned down by German forces in 1943.
The Diakofto–Kalavryta Railway is a historic 750 mm (2 ft 5 1⁄2 in) gauge rack railway in Greece. Located on the northern Peloponnese, it runs 22 km from Diakofto through the Vouraikos Gorge and the old Mega Spilaion Monastery and up to Kalavryta, stopping en route at Zachlorou. You will enjoy a beautiful scenery in this one hour trip by train through Vouraikos Gorge.
The Monastery of Mega Spileo -10 km from Kalavryta, located close to Zachlorou village, you will find the Holy Monastery of Mega Spileo. On the slopes of a steep, rocky hillside it is built at a height of 924m, giving you stunning views from its balcony.
Kalavryta Holocaust Monument – in 1943 the town of Kalavryta suffered a holocaust, later to be considered one of the most cruel atrocities of the World War II. On 13 December 1943, in what is commemorated as the Holocaust or Massacre of Kalavryta, allegedly in retribution for the killing of 81 German soldiers captured by partisans during the Nazi occupation in World War II, German troops ordered all male residents of Kalavryta, aged 14 years and up, to gather in a field just outside the village. There, they machine-gunned down 696 of them. Only 13 survived. After that they burnt down the town before they left and the next day, they burnt down the Monastery of Agia Lavra, the birthplace of the Greek War of Independence.
Today,the memorial monument is standing on top of Kapi Hill, dedicated to the Holocaust with a large white crucifix. Stones are inscribed with names of men and in a chapel you will find nameplates with the name and age of each man, attached to lit candles.
Besides the monument you should visit the Municipal Museum of Holocaust of Kalavryta housed in the old primary school, in the central square of Kalavryta.
The Cave of Kastria Lakes – the cave is a pristine natural creation. In reality, it is consisting of three separate caves interconnected by corridors and surrounde by stalactite formations. The lakes are actually a long, subterranean river which on its way forms a lot of small lakes. The cave is approximately 2,000 meters long of which 500 m are accessible on foot. Artificial bridges have been built in order for you to cross the lakes. The natural entrance is right next to the road, where the man-made entrance lies just a few meters away.
According to an ancient myth, some young girls living in the area believed they were more beautiful than the goddess Hera. She got angry and took their sanity, after which the girls thought themselves to be cows, running around persuading the local women to kill their children. One day, they came across the Cave of the Lakes and they were cured by the god Melambodas, who resided there. In 1967, local shepherds found the cave which in 1981 was developed into a tourist attraction. You will find it 20 km from Kalavryta and 9 km from Klitoria.
Kalavryta – Where to stay?
In Kalavrita you will find a wide range of first class hotels, chalets, boutique hotels, guest houses and apartments. Find the highest ranking in the link below.
THE TOP 10 HIGHEST RANKING HOTELS
Things to do in Kalavryta
Hiking along Vouraikos river through the Gorge of Vouraikos
Vouraikos is a river in the prefecture of Achaea in Greece. In ancient times it was called Erasinos. Its spring is in the Aroania mountains, near the village of Priolithos and it flows past the town of Diakopto. Its length is 40 km. The name is derived from Boura, a mythological daughter of Ion and Helice, beloved by Hercules, who according to legend opened the gorge to get close to her. This is the Bouraikos Gorge, which has a length of about 20 km. In the gorge the river passes through dense vegetation and tunnels with many caves, passes and crags.
Trekking around Kalavryta and Mount Chelmos
There are several paths for climbing or walking around Kalavryta and Mount Chelmos. Caution, though, many of the routes are suitable for people with mountaineering experience and knowledge of orientation in mountainous area. One of these paths is a trekking path near Ano Vlasia. Unfortunately, there are no signs, so it’s best to seek directions for a short gravel road south of the village, which leads to a water source. Behind the water source is a mysterious and dark cave. Those who have partly explored it tell of the existence of underground lakes and extraordinary landscapes. Suitable equipment and caution are advised, as the surface is wet and mouldy. Going downhill to the edge of the river you will find the waterfall of Saint Taxiarchis. The scene is magnificent; water sources come from various directions on rush falls into a dark lake, to join Selinountas river.
Skiing on the slopes of Mt. Helmos
The ski resort of Kalavryta is complete with the essential skiing gears and equipment. The atmosphere and terrain are ideal for skiing. The ski resort of Kalavrita is situated 15 km off the town of Kalavryta, at NW of Mountain Chelmos and at an altitude of 1700 meters (Xerokampos), to 2340 meters (Neraidorachi). It offers modern facilities, 7 ski lifts and 13 slaloms of all categories.
Tours to Kalavrita
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Weather and climate in Kalavryta
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