Navarino Bay the largest natural port of Peloponnese has a long history as the broad area having been inhabited since Neolithic time. Located on South Western Greece at Messinia and it is almost a landlocked crescent bay with deep waters and enormously beautiful scenery.

The islets

The Sfaktiria islet which stands as a wave breaker, protecting the bay from winds of Ionion Sea and closing the bay created as a big lake. Even the size of Sfaktiria is tinny about 4.6km length with highest point 152m above the sea level (Profitis Ilias); its location is very important.

Sfaktiria creates two entrances; the south which is the main and the north which is not accessible because it is narrow.
On the south entrance there is an impressive steep and vertical column islet named as Tsihli Baba or Fanari (Lighthouse).

One more tinny rock (islet) is located almost on the center of the bay called Helonaki (little turtle).

The Navarino Battle an interesting timeline approach

The Battle of Navarino is an exceptional for being the last major naval battle to involve sailing battleships.
During the Greek War for Independence, a combined Turkish and Egyptian armada is destroyed by Greek and the allied Great Powers.

 

Britain, France, and Russia signed the Treaty of London which called upon the Ottomans to suspend hostilities and grant the Greeks autonomy.

The main Ottoman fleet departed Alexandria and met with other Ottoman forces at Navarino Bay.

The British naval commander in the Mediterranean, Admiral Sir Edward Codrington met with Ibrahim and received promises that offensive operations would cease. These assurances were quickly ignored as the Ottoman fleet twice sortied to support land.

Codrington was joined by French and Russian squadrons off Navarino. As Codrington was senior, the other commanders, Admiral Henri de Rigny and Admiral Login Geiden, agreed to serve under his command.

After failed attempts to contact Ibrahim, Codrington made the decision to enter Navarino Bay with the combined fleet. Prior to entering the bay, Codrington issued strict orders that no ship was to fire unless fired upon. The Ottoman fleet was anchored and its position was strong, in three lines with crescent formation.

Headquarters of Ibrahim Pasha were located on an elevated point from where the entire Navarino Bay lay in full view.

The Turko-Egyptian fleet had over a thousand cannons more.

Admiral Codrington gave the signal to enter they bay.

A Turkish boat came close and demanded from the British admiral to stop entering the bay; Codrington ignored and continued where his vessel casted the anchors 250 meters next to the Turkish flagship.

The French did the same next to the Egyptiam frigate. The rest of the French ships were still entering the gulf, while the Russian were outside the bay.

The British frigate stood against the burning ships of the opponents, located in the Southern part of the gulf. Its commander sent a boat to inform their leaders about the non-enemy character of this action. The Turkish fired, killed the boatswain and hurt several others.

At the same time an Egyptian frigate shot twice against and killed a French soldier. Derigny responded with a broadside from all the guns. This salvo started the "Navarino thunderbolt", as they called later this famous naval battle.

In the course of four hours the Navarino Bay turned into a pure hell. Everything was drowned in dense smoke, cannons boomed, the water of the Bay bristled with the falling cannonballs. Thunder, screams, and the cracking noise of falling masts and ship sides being torn by cannonballs drowned everything around.

The Battle of Navarino proved to be a one-sided victory for the allies.

The memorial monuments

Even the aftermath of the Greek and allied nations was in favor, the battle was fierce and tremendous damages for both sides.

The allies have lost many hundreds of people: 272 British, 198 Russians and 185 French were dead or heavily injured.

At Navarino Bay there three memorial monuments in honor of alliances

The French located on the top of Tsihli Baba, overooloking the entrance, the bay and Pylos Neocastro. French Republic built it, in 1890 and it is a white marble column.

Russian is found in Sfaktiria, it is a modest memorial Plaque under very high eycalyptus trees. On the same place there is an impressive wooden Russian style chapel of St. Nicolas, which was built in 1997. Next to, the Greek church of the Ascension standing by the side.

British memorial placed on Helonaki island at the center of the bay.

What to expect
This is a great way to see all of the Memorials, each unique and important in its own way. The beautiful scenery around and the views from the top are amazing. The waters are crystal clear and it is a great chance for a refreshing dive.

Insight Info
All have a safe docks and easy to access.
For kids and elderly people might be an issue το walk up the stairs on Tsihli Baba islet.
Take some water with you.
Do not forget your cell phone for any emergency (Pylos Coast Guard : +30 27230 22225)

How to approach
The cruise around Navarino Bay is a truly wonderful experience. There are several ways to organize it unless you do not have your own boat. In Pylos you can easily find two local boat rental companies which offer small boats for half or full day rentals. For the hire you do not need to possess any license. The other way is to join the glass bottom that organizes daily this cruise. Another option is to charter a yacht from Pylos marina.
 

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