Nafplio is a historic coastal town in Peloponnese and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece. The town itself has many to offer but in this article, we suggest four interesting destinations, not far from Nafplio, which are relatively “unknown” and they worth to be discovered.
Pyramid of Hellinikon is a pyramid-like structure (of total dimensions 7.00 m by 9.00 m) near the springs of the Erasinos river (nowadays Kephalari) and on the main road which in antiquity led from Argos to Tegea. This is not a structure similar to the Egyptian pyramids because it is smaller and was possibly used as a watch and communication tower. Based on the excavations, it dates back to the late 4th century, but some archaeologists, using new methods, believe that it might overlap the construction of the pyramids in Egypt. According to other theories, it was a water tower or a tomb. The latter assumption has been based on the writings of the ancient Greek writer Pausanias (2nd century AD) who mentions one building resembling a pyramid near Argos as a common tomb for soldiers who died in a legendary struggle for the throne of Argos. Apart from the mystery that surrounds the building and the uniqueness of its structure, the place offers a magnificent view of the area from Argos to Nafplio. In order to reach the Pyramid, follow the road from Argos to Myloi and lookout, on your right, for the brown road sign for “Hellenic Pyramid” (approximately 20 km from Nafplio – no entrance fee).
Larisa Castle in Argos is one of the oldest and most historic castles in Greece. It is located on a rocky hill overlooking the town of Argos. The first settlement dates back to prehistoric times, while the castle we see today was built in the 13thy century during the Venetian occupation of Argos. The castle had played an important role in the history of the region as a strong line of defense. During the Greek War of Independence (1821), the castle played a significant role, when the summit was captured by Demetrios Ypsilantis, who along with 800 soldiers managed to hold the position for 15 days and therefore gave time to the rest of the Greek army to be prepared for the victorious Battle of Vervenakia against the Ottoman army. Nowadays the castle is very well preserved and ideal for an afternoon walk. The view is spectacular and during spring the whole area is covered with multi-colored flowers. In order to reach the castle follow the road signs from the center of Argos (approximately 15 km from Nafplio – no entrance fee).
Monastery of Loukou is built on the valley of Tanos, on the ruins of Ancient Eva. The most possible etymology of the name of the monastery is from the Latin “Lucus Feroniae” (woods of prey), in which the nearby Villa of Herodes Atticus was located. According to the archaeologists, the monastery was built on the ruins of an old-Christian church. On the walls of the main church (katholikon), which is the oldest part of the monastery, you can see ancient architectural parts, which were used for its construction. Also, ancient parts, capitals, pillars, stones and other elements are scattered all over the yard. Inside the church, the painted decoration and the mosaic floor were systematically preserved and restored. Nowadays the monastery is a convent for nuns. Apart from the archaeological and historical interest of the monument, the place is an absolute paradise of peace and tranquility. The figures of the welcoming nuns add serenity to the place and they treat every visitor with a glass of water, a “loukoumi” and a kind word. The monastery is just 4 km from Astros on the road to Tripolis (approximately 35 km from Nafplio – no entrance fee).
Agios Nikolaos Krasoktistos is a wonderful small church hidden on the rocks near Karathona, the most popular beach of Nafplio. It was built during the first Venetian occupation of the area (1389 – 1540). According to the myth, a local captain which was carrying wine with his boat met a wild storm at this point and promised to Agios Nikolaos, the patron saint of sailors, that if he survives, he will build at this point a church on the rock. The captain after arriving safely at Nafplio, he kept his promise and built with soil and wine, a small church dedicated to Agios Nikolaos. That is the reason why it is called “krasoktistos”, which means built with wine. The small church is actually built under a huge rock and it’s hanging above the rough sea. The place has the ambiance of a Cycladic island, it is magical during sunset and offers a magnificent view of the gulf of Nafplio. In order to reach the church, you must drive to Karathona beach and follow the road that leads to Agios Konstantinos church (not the road that leads to the beach). At the end of the road, park your car and you will see a sign for “Άγιος Νικόλαος” which indicates the beginning of a 300m path that leads to the church (approximately 7 km from Nafplio).
Don’t miss any of these four easy excursions that will make your stay at Nafplio even more interesting.