The name of Pylos conjures up memories of the Mycenaean hero Nestor and the more recent naval battle of Navarino; but it also offers the attraction of one of the most beautiful spots in Greece, Navarino Bay.
Navarino Bay - the name is a corruption of the Byzantine name Ton Avarinon ("of the Avars" - referring to the Slav invaders of Greece) - is the only large natural harbor on the west coast of the Peloponnese. It is enclosed on the seaward side by the island of Sfaktiría, a huge rocky barrier 4.6 km/3 mi long rising to a height of 135m/443ft. The main entrance to the bay, at the south end, is wide, but is constricted by the islet of Pylos and a number of small reefs. The entrance at the north end is the strait of Sykia, only 100m/110yd wide and much silted up, which runs between Sfaktiría and the 250m/820ft high hill of Koryfásion, below which is the Osman Aga lagoon.The Mycenaean kingdom of Pylos was conquered by Neleus, and thereafter was ruled by his youngest son, Nestor. In 1939 Carl Blegen discovered at Epáno Englianós a site belonging to that period.In the seventh-sixth century B.C. a Dorian settlement named Pylos was established on Mt Koryfásion, at the north end of the bay. In 425 B.C., during the Peloponnesian War, the town was occupied by the Athenians, who also captured the island of Sphakteria (Sfaktiría) and took its Spartan defenders prisoner.In the A.D. 13th century a Crusading knight, Nicolas de Saint-Omer, built a castle here (Palaiókastro, the "Old Castle"), which was later successively held by Venetians and Turks. In 1573 the Turks built a new castle (Neókastro) on the hill of Áyios Nikólaos at the south end of the bay, and in 1825, during the war of Greek independence, Ibrahim Pasha made this his headquarters during his Peloponnesian campaign.Buses from Kalamáta and Athens.
Pylos Town, Greece
The present-day town of Pylos grew up at the foot of the hill of Áyios Nikólaos, on a site which had not been occupied in ancient times. Its most notable features are the arcaded houses in the main square and the wide-spreading old plane-tree which gives shade to the square and the patrons of its coffee-houses and tavernas. The square is called the Platía ton Trión Navárkhon (Square of the Three Admirals) after the three commanders of the victorious allied fleet in the battle of Navarino - the British Admiral Sir Edward Codrington, the French Admiral de Rigny and the Russian Count von Heyden - who are also commemorated by a monument on one side of the square. There are relics of the battle in the small Museum (on the way up to the castle), which also contains some very fine antiquities (pottery, gold jewellery).
Navarino Bay - Remains of Battle of Navarino
The allied fleet sailed into Navarino Bay on October 20th 1827 to make a show of strength, but a shot fired by the Turkish and Egyptian fleet sparked off a battle which had not been intended by the allied governments and which ended in the destruction of 58 out of the 87 Turkish vessels. Their remains can be seen lying on the bottom of the bay when the sea is calm. The battle gave a decisive new impulse to the Greek war of liberation.There are three monuments to those who fell in the battle - a British one on Khelonáki ("Tortoise Island") in the middle of the bay, a Russian one on the island of Sfaktiría and a French one on the islet of Pylos, to the south.
Sfaktiría - Panagoúla
A motorboat can be taken from Pylos to the island of Sfaktiría. Above the landing-stage at Panagoúla is the monument to the Russian sailors who died in the battle of Navarino, with a chapel which was restored some years ago by the Soviet Union.
Nine km/6mi northwest of Pylos is Mt Koryfásion (30minutes' climb), with the ruins of a medieval castle built on ancient foundations. On the north side of the hill is the "Cave of Neleus"; at the foot is the site of the Mycenaean harbor.
The Palace of Nestor is not fortified like many other Mycenaean palaces. The remains found here date to between 1300 and 1250 B.C.
The Antonopouleion Museum of Pylos contains the archaeological finds from the area of Pylos. On display are pottery, sculptures, metal objects, weapons, tools and jewelry.
Opening hours: 8:30am-3pm; Closed: Mon
Always opened on: Assumption Day - Christian (Aug 15), Óhi Day - Greece & Cyprus (Oct 28)
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €2.00, Concession or reduced rate €1.00, Students from EU FREE, Child 18 & under FREE
Useful tips: Admission is free on Sundays between November and March.