Impressed by the view of the ‘eternal’ walls built up on the sunburned hill, just above the Voidokilia beach, we challenged to visit the Palaiokastro. It was a modest effort but giving large rewards…
Palaiokastro (or Old Navarino Castle) located on the top of the hill at north tip of Navarino Bay opposite the northern side of Sfaktiria islet, which is the north entrance to Navarino Bay, known as Sykia Pass (Fig pass).
As long you reach the western tip of Divari beach, the footpath starts. The first 300meters you walk on a solid and wide dirt road, having on your left hand side the Sfaktiria Island, the north entrance of Navarino Bay and you heading the west. The endless blue of Ionion Sea is impressive ….
the main hike…
You continuing the hike (heading north), reaching the only trail available, it is wide enough for one person and leading directly to the castle’s Gate. This path is formed exactly on the middle of the hill. It will take you around 20 minutes to actually reach the demolished Main Gate. The whole hike is quite easy with cobblestone parts, narrow dirt paths, couple of short slightly steep spots and some shady places.
in the castle…
As you passed the Main Gate there are two options; the left one is a 300 meters walk along at top of the west walls and the right one is a short hike (250m) to reach the north eastern corner.
Both sides have amazing views; on the west side (on wall), you will have full view of the Ionion Sea, but the right one is the most impressive because you reach the edge. Therefore, as you heading on the right pathway, you will feel that you are in one of the most beautiful balconies of Messinian land. Feeling the local history, overlooking a three-dimensional landscape created by the mountains, the sea, lagoon and the valley.
Palaiokastro gives you the advantage to admire the unique shape of Voidokilia cove and how it is separated from the Gialova lagoon. It will be also easy to understand its strategical power and its importance throughout the centuries.
Eventually, you will be captured by the experience to become a dominant of an optical majestic landscape.
About the history of Palaiokastro
It is one of the important defensive fortresses in Messinia which have met with the history of many centuries. Old Navarino Castle has been influenced and modified on the signs of different cultures as occupied by various principalities. The castle maintains an important strategical position with defensive power and control advantage. The story starts from the first historical times as the rock hill was the acropolis of ancient Pylos which played an important role during the Peloponnesian War. Also, the valuable archaeological findings that have been discovered in the area, which cover different periods of ancient times, make the rock standing glorious in history.
The Franks built the castle on the site of the citadel and they called it “Port de Lunch”, the port of Schinias. This was built by Nicholas B. Said Omer in 1278 having an area of 50 acres and trapezoidal shape.
But in 1381 came under the domination of the Spanish Navarre, who use it as their base. In 1423 was bought by the Venetians and in 1500 was under Ottoman occupation. Since then loses its defensive priority, the Ottomans restructure their overall strategy and they decide to block the north entrance to Navarino and concentrate all their power to control the south entrance of the bay. For this reason they build the new castle of Navarino or Niokastro in the same place that today the town of Pylos located.
A few quick reminders
Of course, your Camera :)
During your visit at the castle you have to be very careful as the fort is not maintained and it is ruined.
Wear sports shoes as the path is uneven and some rocks can be slippery.
Carry your cell phone with you in case of emergency (Police Station at Pylos :+30 27230 22100).
Get some water, it can get hot.
Wear sunscreen, the trail on some places offer little shade but it is not enough.
Stay to the center of the trail during your walk on the west side walls.
Path length around 1km till the gate, plus 300meters each way. Altitude 200m.
How to combine
At your way back a dive in the golden coast of Divari sounds like a refreshing panacea.
Driving through Gialova with north direction it is sign spotted a left turn to Gialova Lagoon, Divari beach and Palaiokastro. At the far end of this 4 km road (the last 1km is a dirt road), you will reach a the dead end and the parking place.
What Greek I learnt
Palaiokastro means: Old castle > Palaio:Old- kastro:castle
Sykia Perasma means: Fig pass> Sykia:Fig –Perasma: pass