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Last updated : Nov 2009
Patras, Olympia, Pilos and Mystras
Patras Olympia, Pilos and Mystras  - TravelPuppy.com

Patras is a booming commercial and industrial port, and the third most important town in Greece. Daily ferry services connect the country to Italy and the Ionian islands. Southwest of Patras, at Kyllini there are mineral springs, new hotels, hydropathic installations and a public beach. The stretch of coast south of Kyllini as far as Kiparissia offers many good beaches and seaside resorts. East of Patras, one can travel through the deep Vouraikos Gorge, taking an amazing train journey from Diakofto to Kalavrita.


Olympia, the original site of the Olympic Games, which begun in 776 BC, the site where the Olympic Flame is still lit today, can be reached by train or by the mountain road from Kalavrita, or along the coast, via Patras and Pyrgos. The site is a mass of marble inscriptions, civic buildings and restored temples, including the Temple of Zeus, which once housed the colossal gold and ivory statue of Zeus, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Ancient World’ (later taken to Constantinople and destroyed in a fire). There is also a good Archaeological Museum on the site, and a Museum of the Olympic Games situated in the modern town of Olympia. Southeast of Olympia at Bassae (Vasses) is the well-preserved monumental Temple of Apollo Epicurius, dating back to the 4th century BC.


Northeast of Pilos, at Mystra, lie the ruins of the fortified Byzantine city, once inhabited by 42,000 citizens but now home to just a small number of nuns. In the lower town, which was the religious centre, stand the 13th-century frescoed Cathedral and numerous interesting churches and monasteries. In the Upper Town, where the aristocrats resided, stand numerous palazzi (palaces), notably the Palace of the Despots, built between the 13th and 15th centuries. The site is crowned by the remains of a hilltop Kastro (Castle). East of Mytras is Sparta. Now a provincial town with parks, broad avenues and a pleasing atmosphere, it was once a powerful city-state, notorious in ancient history for the austerity of its regime.


Lefkas, joined by a narrow strip of land to the Greek mainland, it is a green and fertile island which is surrounded by many islets. Excursions, involving some mountain climbing, can be made in the centre of Lefkas, close to the Stavrota Mountain. There is swimming and fishing in the villages of Agios Nikitas on the northwestern coast, Ligia on the southeastern coast or Vassiliki (which is also popular with windsurfers) on the southwestern coast.