When you go to Kalamata…
That’s how the famous song goes. Recently I found myself in this beautiful city of the southwestern Peloponnese, which is the capital of the Messinia Municipality. Kalamata is the second largest city in the Peloponnese after Patras and is built in the heart of Messinian Bay. But it is not just the location that makes it so attractive.
From the moment you arrive in Kalamata you feel the hospitality of the residents. They are all very polite and willing to help you. Fortunately if you have a city map, you will not especially need their help since the city is quite squared and you can get anywhere you want without any problems, easily and fairly quickly. If you are traveling by car, you will not struggle to find somewhere to park it. Also if you move by bicycle and take it everywhere with you, Kalamata will delight you, since it has a bicycle path that starts from the city market, near the bus station and crossing the whole city.
It is a nice route, that runs from the main square and the railway park and ends at the lovely beach. But even if you do not wish to follow the cycle path you will have no problem as the city is fairly flat and helps with bike moving. If you get to Kalamata by bus you do not have to worry about anything. The bus consists of four lines serving the transportation of residents and visitors almost throughout the city. The timetables are quite often, about every fourth to twenty minutes depending on the line you use. Line 1: Kalamata-Filoxenia-Kalamata, in any case, is a line that will serve you very well as follows the coastal road, crosses the city passing the Railway Park, the Central Square and reaches up to the city castle making stops at all places worth visiting.
Something also impressive featuring Kalamata is the beach which stretches over several hundred meters. The beach has no sand but small pebbles. For those who prefer sandy beaches you might want to use the beach shoes to not disturb your paws on the stones. It is a beach that has organized points, so you can sit on the sunbeds and order your coffee, and also many tens of meters where you can place your umbrella and enjoy the sun and sea. For those who want to work out having fun there is a beach volley court on the beach road and the quay that runs parallel to the road on one side and the sea on the other offers a great opportunity for walking or jogging for those who wish.
On the coast road you will find many stores to enjoy a coffee or a drink and of course to taste local and other recipes. I recommend not to miss to taste piglet which is a dish of the region and melts in the mouth.
You can’t of course leave Kalamata without visiting the historic center. There you will find the square March 23 with the church of the Holy Apostles, which is the church which was depicted in the 5 thousands drachmas bill. It is a church with great archaeological importance, since it was built during the Byzantine era, at around 1050. It is constructed from two individual churches, that were connected between them, one bigger and a smaller one, something you can easily see from the two cupolas on the exterior.
Around the square you will find many picturesque streets with tavernas, cafes and bars and surely some of them will draw your attention to enjoy your coffee or your wine. It is a meeting point for the citizens of Kalamata and without exaggeration all the fun takes place there.
Following the path of Ypapanti you will reach the Metropolitan Church, just below the castle. It is an impressive and old church that was founded in 1860. Every year on February the 2nd it is the epicenter where the local saint is celebrated. The religious festivities attract people who travel to Kalamata for the celebrations.
If you have the courage you can climb up to the castle from where you get a spectacular view of the city. It is built on the hilltop next to the square of the Metropolitan church and it is an important historic sight. Built during antiquity, was later rebuilt by the Byzantines, the French took it during Francocracy and then the Byzantines capture it again before the Ottomans occupied it during the 15th century.
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While touring the old town you will find the Folklore Museum where you can enter with a small fee daily except Mondays. Just a few roads below and next to the church of the Holy Apostles is the Archaeological Museum which periodically hosts various interesting exhibitions over the permanent exhibits. In the same point is also the Office of Tourism Support from where you can get useful information.
Once you’re in Kalamata you can ask the Municipal Cultural Centre in the main square for different events and theater shows organized in the city. It is a very beautiful neoclassic building that also houses the city’s library. Kalamata is a vivid city and that is proven by the people’s love for the arts and the knowledge.
Going towards to the beach you will find the Railway Park where it worths spending some time. There you can see the old trains with locomotives and their carriages and sit next to an artificial pond and enjoy your coffee in a quiet setting. It is the only open museum of its kind in Greece and through its exhibits many pieces of the train’s history are presented. It is a scenic and serene place, that will offer you moments of relaxation after walking in the city.
Ah! One last thing I would suggest is during your night walk to the historic center to visit the square March 23 and the fast food “Jimmy”. There you can enjoy the classics Greek souvlakia and your beer. You will be sitting on the terrace of the church on traditional rug, eating tasteful food, while-watching people passing by. You will remember me!!!
Kalamata is a beautiful town which is worth visiting for what it has to offer. You can also have it as the base for your tours to other nearby areas of a prefecture that has a lot to offer to the traveler. So have a nice trip and when you go to Kalamata……. gave a great time.