Karteros, Heraklion, Mycenae, Kalamata, Costa Navarino, Kyparissia, Ancient Olympia


Karteros Bay is located 4km east of the city centre of Heraklion, right after the Nikos Kazantzakis Airport and extends for another 3km to the east.

In the bay there are many taverns, bars and hotels and two small settlements, Karteros and Amnissos, which, however, due to the development of the area, have been merged.

The 2km-long with fine golden-sand beach, is usually open to north winds and thus wavy, mainly on its eastern side.

In June 2022, a new permanent state-of-the-art sports facility, the Karteros Beach Sports Center, was inaugurated by the Deputy Minister of Sports, Lefteris Avgenakis. Many sports events took place there ever since including the IHF Men’s & Women’s and Junior Men’s & Junior Women’s World Beach Handball Championships.

The Karteros Beach Sports Center facility includes four modern sand courts: a central with a removable perimeter stand and a capacity of 2,500 spectators; two additional courts with a capacity of 500 spectators each; a warm-up area and auxiliary areas (locker rooms, infirmary, doping control room, administration offices, flash interview areas, media area and offices).

Karteros derives its name from the Byzantine admiral Krateros, who, in 828 AD led a fleet of 70 warships to Amnissos to liberate Crete from the Saracens’ occupation.

He routed his opponents in a battle close to Chandax (nowadays Heraklion), but at the same night his officers neglected to put guards in the camp, and were attacked by the Arabs, completely surprised, and slayed.

Krateros was able to embark in a commercial ship and escaped, but the Saracens hunted him down, arrested him at the island of Kos and crucified him.


Heraklion is the fourth largest city in Greece and the administrative capital of the Region of Crete. The city is famous worldwide for its numerous archaeological sites and monuments covering different periods of history, from antiquity to modern times.

Part of the modern-day city is surrounded by huge Venetian walls, which protected Chandax (Byzantine name of Heraklion derived from the Arabs) from invaders, making it one of the best fortified places of the Mediterranean.

On the southern wall stands the Martinego bastion, where the tomb of the great Cretan author of Zorba, Nikos Kazantzakis is located. Νearby, one may find the Pantokrator Gate, the city's exit to western Crete, also known as Chanioporta.

On the southern outskirts of Heraklion, lies the famous palace of Knossos, the centre of the Minoan civilization, seat of King Minos. Well-known figures of Greek mythology, such as Theseus, the Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus linked with the palace of Knossos.

The city’s most iconic landmarks are the monuments of the medieval period, which bear witness to Heraklion’s great prosperity in those years. These are:

The Loggia (today’s Town Hall), which was the gathering place for the Venetian lords and noblemen; the Basilica of Agios Markos, built in 1239 by the Venetians (today’s Municipal Gallery); the Lions Square with the famous Morosini Fountain, which was inaugurated in 1628 and was a donation of the then Doge of Venice, Francesco Morosini, to solve the problem of water shortage that was plaguing the city; and the Sinaitic Monastery of Saint Catherine, a university in the Middle Ages and today an exhibition centre of hagiographies. All the aforementioned monuments are located in the city centre.

At the entrance to the Venetian harbour, lies the Koules, a fortress which was built in 1540 and protected the city for centuries.

Tourists shouldn’t miss visiting the famous Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, one of the oldest and most remarkable museums in Greece, and among the most important in Europe; and the Historical Museum of Crete that presents a comprehensive view of Cretan history from early Christian times to the present day.


In the north-eastern part of Peloponnese, in Argolis, flourished one of the most important ancient civilizations, the Mycenaean. According to archaeological findings, Mycenae was inhabited since the prehistoric times (7000 BC).

The great prosperity of the city of Mycenae came between 1600-1200 BC and it was Heinrich Schliemann, a German businessman who led the excavations in 1876 that brought to light the Acropolis and the Palace, the impressive Cyclopean masonry, the Lion Gate, tholos tombs (among them the famous Treasury of Atreus), as well as a large number of weapons and artefacts of rare art, with the most famous being the Mask of Agamemnon.

Works of preserving, fixing and highlighting Mycenae and the monuments of the wider surrounding area, with targeted interventions aimed at saving this unique monument of world cultural heritage, are ongoing.

Many of the findings in Mycenae are exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens as well as in the new, modern Museum of Mycenae located on the northern slope of the acropolis.


Kalamata, the capital and central port of the prefecture of Messenia, is located at the mouth of the Messenian Gulf and is built at the foot of Mount Kalathi, on the western edge of Mount Taygetus. Kalamata is first mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey under the name Firai, an ancient city that was built where the Kalamata Frankish castle stands today.

After the Fourth Crusade (1204 AD), the city fell into the hands of the Franks and their leader, Prince of Achaea Geoffrey I of Villehardouin, who rebuilt the ruined castle, which became the seat of the Barony of Gritzena. A period of prosperity began that culminated under William II Villeardouin, while subsequently, Greeks, Slavs, Italians, Venetians, the House of Palaiologos, Turks, Venetians once more and the Ottomans occupied the city. Kalamata was finally freed from the Ottomans on March 23, 1821 and joined the new Greek state.

The port was built at the end of the 19th century signalling the economic development of the city. Thanks to the local products of the fertile Messenian plain (i.e. olive oil, olives, raisins, figs, etc), Kalamata developed into a rich urban and commercial centre.

A reference point of the modern city is the Castle of Kalamata aka Castle of Izabo - another name of Isabella of Villehardouin, daughter of William II of Achaea, who was born and lived there. Izabo is the main character in Angelos Terzakis’ novel Princess Izabo. The historic centre is busy in winter, while in summer the nightlife landscape is set to the city’s beach and to Verga, a village built on the slope of Mount Kalathi with a magnificent view towards the Messenian Gulf. Kalamata’s most iconic landmark is the Byzantine church of the Holy Apostles, built in the 11th century.

A major cultural event held in the region is the Kalamata International Dance Festival, established in 1995. It takes place annually, in July in various parts of the city and introduces dancers from all over the world. Other points of interest are the Municipal Railway Park, the Archaeological Museum of Messenia with finds from Kalamata, Messene, Pylos and Trifylia, as well as the Historical and Folklore Museum of Kalamata.

Costa Navarino

Located in Messinia in the southwest Peloponnese, Costa Navarino is one of the last unspoiled corners of the Mediterranean. The Costa Navarino philosophy is driven by a genuine desire to preserve the natural beauty and heritage of Messinia, which is why sustainability has been a guiding principle during the development of the destination.

Costa Navarino is currently home to a range of 5-star hospitality offerings. The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort is ideal for couples seeking a distinctive luxury holiday. The Westin Resort, Costa Navarino is the perfect choice for families. While W Costa Navarino has a more vibrant atmosphere suited to groups of friends and the young at heart. As of Summer 2023, Mandarin Oriental, Costa Navarino will offer guests an ultra-luxury experience and is ideal for those seeking absolute privacy and tranquility.
Costa Navarino is also an upcoming residential destination offering a collection of luxury villas for private ownership, standing only a few meters from the beach or nestled among verdant olive groves.

Now globally recognized as a preeminent golf destination, Costa Navarino has four signature 18-hole courses offering contrasting natural landscape and sea views.

Costa Navarino

Opening in Spring 2023, Navarino Agora, will welcome locals, tourists and homeowners to a new marketplace. Visitors will find an open air cinema, 10 restaurants including fine dining, street food and delicatessen, 16 high end clothing and accessory shops, a range of services as well as a virtual reality arcade. Coupled with a diverse program of concerts, dance performances, art shows, festivals and artisanal workshops, Navarino Agora encapsulates Costa Navarino’s multifaceted character and experience-based philosophy.

Gastronomy at Costa Navarino is influenced by the Mediterranean diet, lush flavors from the Messinian countryside and finest quality local ingredients such as the world-famous extra virgin olive oil.  Visitors, guests and owners have access to more than 40 culinary venues, where our award-winning chefs serve a range of local dishes, authentic recipes and creative, ethnic cuisine.

Sports enthusiasts and nature lovers can discover the local area through biking and hiking trails, or indulge in watersports such as kayaking, kitesurfing, waterskiing, diving and yachting. The destination also welcomes tennis fans in the Mouratoglou Tennis Center which has 16 courts with breathtaking views, and offers personalized coaching from top instructors.

A wealth of authentic activities inspired by the local culture, such as olive harvesting and olive-oil tasting, philosophy walks and astronomy nights, allow guests to immerse themselves in the region’s fascinating nature, history and traditions.


Kyparissia, a town with a population of 5,000 inhabitants and the capital of the Municipality of Trifylia, is located at the north-western end of the prefecture of Messenia and is amphitheatrically built, from the foot of Mount Aigaleo aka Psychro to the shores of the Ionian Sea.

Cyparissientas (the ancient name of the city) belonged to the kingdom of Pylos and participated in the Trojan War with a fleet of 11 ships under the command of King Nestor. The city is mentioned by both Homer in the Iliad, and Pausanias in the Description of Greece. Cyparissientas was renamed Kyparissia, its current name, during King Otto’s rule.

The trademark of Kyparissia, the Castle of Arcadia, was built by the Byzantines on the site of the ancient acropolis, with bulwarks at the four corners, of which the one on the eastern side, known as the Justinian's tower, is preserved today.

In 1970, a small outdoor theatre was built in the medieval castle, in which various cultural events are held on an annually basis. The view, over the entire Ionian Sea, from the castle is truly mesmerising. The old Upper Town, a traditional preserved settlement, with the Square of Arcadia and the plane tree, the Fountains at the entrance of the castle, the public baths (hammam) and the picturesque cobblestones, has been built around the castle.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, Kyparissia, like the entire Trifylia, experienced a great economic boom with the cultivation and export of raisins. Nowadays, a few metres from the castle, lies the Folklore Museum housed in the restored building of the Eparcheio (=Province). At close distance from the city there are several beaches, while along the Kyparissia Gulf is the second, to Zakynthos, most important breeding area of the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta, a protected species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Ancient Olympia

In the western Peloponnese, on the north bank of the Alfeios river and next to the Kronion hill, lies Olympia, one of the most important religious sanctuaries of ancient Greece, dedicated to Zeus.

The area was inhabited since the Neolithic period, but it was the Olympic Games that established Olympia as a site of major importance.

The Temple of Zeus was built in the fifth century BC and housed the gigantic chryselephantine statue of Zeus, a work of Pheidias and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Although the mythological King of Peloponnesus, Pelops is considered the founder of the Olympic Games, historically they started in 776 BC and were held every four years.

Before and during the Games Ekecheiria (=truce) was announced - i.e. a treaty between the kings of Elis, Pisa and Sparta to allow safe participation for all athletes and spectators from these Greek city-states.

Gradually, more buildings were built in the wider area of Altis: in the inner precinct all religious buildings, and outside it the residences of the priests, the baths, the warm-up areas for the athletes and the hostels.

The first event held at the maiden Olympic Games was the Stadion, a road race of about 190 metres. Other events were added at a later stage, including Diaulos and Dolichos (both road races), the Pentathlon (Long Jump, Javelin Throw, Discus Throw, Stadion and Wrestling), Pale (Wrestling), Pygme (boxing), Horse Racing, the Pankration (a combination of wrestling and boxing), the Hoplitodromos (a foot race with full military equipment) and Chariot Racing.

The last Games were held in 392 AD. A year later, the Roman emperor Theodosius I implemented a ban by decree, describing the Games as a pagan festival.

From the 9th AD century onwards, the site was abandoned and deserted. Over time, it was covered by dust and dirt, mainly due to alluvium from neighbouring streams, but also due to the erosion of Kronion hill.

The site was identified by the English antiquarian Richard Chandler in 1776, inspired and helped by the very precise account given by Pausanias, but excavations began at the beginning of the 19th century.

Olympia was fully excavated by a Prussian expedition under the direction of Ernst Curtius a hundred years later (1875-1881). They brought back to light masterpieces of ancient Greek sculpture, like Nike of Paeonius and Hermes of Praxiteles - both exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.

Of special importance is the 192x28m Stadium with a capacity of 45,000 spectators as well as the Crypt (an arched way entrance to the stadium).

Not far from the designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site archaeological site, is the modern village of Olympia, with many hotels, restaurants and tourist shops, while to the east of the settlement, behind Kronion hill, are the International Olympic Academy headquarters.

Nowadays and in every two years, the Olympic torch of both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games is lit in front of the Temple of Hera according to the traditional ritual and begins its journey towards the respective host city.

During the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, the Shot Put event was held in the ancient stadium of Olympia.

The Festival of Ancient Olympia hosts annually cultural events, while a few kilometres to the west, lies the Gulf of Kyparissia, full of beautiful beaches, among which Caiaphas Beach stands out with its regenerated forest.

In the wider area of Olympia you can go hiking, cycling, rafting and do water sports.

Photo Credits:, ALAMY/VISUALHELLAS.GR, ISTOCK, Eurokinissi, Associated Press





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