Between the peaks of Mt Taygetos and the gulf of Messinia, Kalamata dances to a different tune. Arriving in Kalamata by plane or car, you may be well on your way to Mani, but why not stay a while and bask in its charms. Magnificent Mt Taygetos towers above a city whose beach seems to go on forever. Kalamata boasts modern cafes, beach bars, restaurants, fine hotels, markets, historic buildings, a port, a summer dance festival and a pulsating nightlife. Everything is vibrant as the capital of Messinia, situated in a blessed land – as is the Peloponnese – knows how to enjoy itself.
What to do in Kalamata
An endless beach with limitless possibilities
Walking barefoot in the sand will give you plenty of time to appreciate the seemingly endless beach: it is 5km from Verga, where it begins, to the port of Kalamata. Bustling with life are major hotels, busy beach bars, designer cafes, tavernas and ouzeris, water sports and funfairs: everything you need for a delightful day at the beach.
The city of a thousand faces
There are so many sides to Kalamata and it is worth getting to know each one of its personalities. Among them: a walled castle from the Middle Ages, a renowned dance festival that attracts fans from all over Europe, a nunnery where traditional handkerchiefs are still made by hand, neoclassical buildings, 19th-century churches, fashion boutiques, art shops, traditional cafes. This city in the Peloponnese is chock full of surprises!
Dolce vita after sundown
Kalamata really dresses up for a night out. Bright lights, dance music, chic ensembles, racing engines and the curtain rises for the evening’s entertainment in the heart of the Peloponnese. Grab the opportunity and carpe noctem. You won’t get back to the hotel before the cocks crow.
Tracking down history, a step at a time
Discover the city’s history, imprinted on every street and building. You’ll come across sights and attractions everywhere in Kalamata. You could start with the church of Ypapanti, which stands out in town with its belfries and silver domes. North of the church is the Municipal Odeon on Alexandraki Street. At the corner of Kyriakou and Agiou Ioannou streets, a neoclassical building houses the interesting Historical and Folk Museum.
Further south, Othon square used to be the site of the central market. The Municipal Gallery, in another neoclassical building, is on Papazoglou Street, almost directly across from the town’s Archaeological Museum. In March 23rd Square you’ll find the historic church of Agii Apostoli, which was built around a much older Byzantine church. Every step has a story.
Train arriving on platform … The Railway Museum
You’ll almost hear the train whistle when you visit one of Greece’s first theme parks. Steam locomotives, diesel engines, passenger and freight cars, the two-storey central station building: everything has an aura of a bygone age. You will also see a water tower with a cylindrical stone base, embarkation platforms and a 28m-long metallic foot-bridge. Your kids will love it.
Branching out to Messini
This town west of Kalamata has the advantage of being a stone’s throw from the longest beach on the gulf of Messini. Besides that, it boasts a pretty park with tall trees, fountains and an old clock tower, ringed with dozens of restaurants, grill houses, cafes and attractive shops.
Ancient Messene, a ‘brand new’ archaeological site
Just 30km north of Kalamata, the city of Messene, founded in the 4th century BC, is becoming one of the most exciting archaeological sites in Greece. Noteworthy for its outstanding circuit walls erected in the 3rd century BC, and its massive Arcadian gate and eight surviving towers, Messene was little more than a green valley as recently as 40 years ago.
Since then, however, important remains have kept coming to light – temples, houses, walls and public buildings – in excellent condition. Now you can walk freely among them and feel like a true citizen as you visit the Agora, the Temple of Artemis Orthia, the Stadium and Heroon, the fountain and various dwellings. What’s more, the ancient theatre has been restored and opened for performances in the summer of 2013.
Hidden gems of Kalamata
The Kalamata kerchief
The local craft. Richly commemorated in Greek songs, the kerchiefs are still made on hand-operated looms. You can find them in the shops around the church of Ypapandi. But be warned, the genuine article is NOT multi-coloured.
Paplomatadika of Kalamata
This is one of the most exciting parts of the city’s historic centre, full of traditional cafes, hole-in-the-wall shops, ouzeris and meateries lining the cobblestone streets of Kalamata.
As you walk down Aristomenous Street, make sure you duck into the Londos and Varvoutsis arcades, which are full of people and places to eat.