Fertile land and beautiful beaches
At the southwestern tip of the Peloponnese, in the south of Messenia, a small coastal town is the center of a region with fertile land and beautiful beaches.
Picturesque and hospitable spreads beyond and below its famous castle. Surrounded by the sea looks like an island city; from the harbor up to the top of the hill, narrow streets uphill with one or two-storey houses.
It is an historic place with traditional colors and beautiful natural surroundings. There are all kind of facilities, the food is good and plenty and the people are cheerful and humorous. Koroni has the appropriate conditions for good and relaxing holidays.
Koroni is located on the southeastern edge of the southern coast of the peninsula of Messenia. It has 1,700 residents. Southwest a triangular peninsula extends that ends at Cape Akritas. Opposite is the islet of Venetiko. West of Koroni the road leads to Finikounda and Methoni and then northwards to Pylos on the Ionian coast.
To get in Koroni, we are going through Kalamata, or from Pylos and Methoni if we follow the west coast of Peloponnese,.
The distance from Athens to Kalamata is approximately 239 km and after the completion of the new part of the highway from Tripoli to Kalamata, the distance is covered quickly and comfortably. Koroni is 50 km from Kalamata, but the road passes through villages and it takes about forty-five minutes to an hour to arrive.
A bus service of KTEL Messenia connects Koroni and Athens on a daily basis. The bus departs from Athens early in the morning.
From Kalamata there are 6-7 bus services a day. The bus terminal in Koroni is located in the central square of the church of Aghios Demetrius.
Koroni, like every other tourist location of Messenia, is served by Kalamata International Airport, where charter flights arriving from abroad.The port of Koroni is a good anchorage for yachts. It is difficult, however, to find space to tie.
There are hotels and rooms to let in the city and higher, above the Zaga beach, west of the castle. Rooms for rent, with residential facilities, also exist at Memi beach, which is a continuation of Zaga beach.
Near the city center, overlooking the Artaki beach is a camping site.
Food for all tastes in restaurants, taverns and fish-taverns; most taverns in the city are next to the sea in the port; among them cafes and bars.
Taverns can be found on the coastal road at Memi beach and shortly after; taverns also exist in villages around Koroni.
We can do our shopping in supermarkets, patisseries and bakeries. In Koroni there are shops for everything you will probably need; most are located in the central square and the surrounding streets; also an office of the telephone service, the post office and two banks.
The history of Koroni begins in the antiquity; not in Messenia, but in Argolida to the east of Peloponnese. At the time when Argos and Sparta fought for the hegemony of Peloponnese, the city Assini – southeast of the present town of Nafplio – was an ally of Sparta. Assini was conquered by Argos and its inhabitants fled to the southwest of the Messenian Gulf, where the Spartans, then rulers of Messenia, gave them a fortified coastal location. They built a citadel and houses and named the city Assini. The new Assini existed till the Roman era, when it fell into decline and eventually deserted.
Further north was another town named Koroni. According to Pausanias it got its name from either the city Koronia of Boeotia, from which came the settlers who founded it, or from a cooper coin called “koroni”, found during the construction of the walls.
During the Byzantine era, the 7th – 8th century, the residents left and settled for security in the acropolis of the deserted city of Assini, which they named Koroni. The fortified strategic position and the port led to the development and in 11th – 12th century Koroni was one of the Byzantine cities, in which the Venetians had privileges for their trade. The prosperity brought quickly pirates and conquerors. In 1199 the pirate Leo Veteran ravaged the city. In 1206, two years after the Frankish conquest of Constantinople, William Chablitte and Geoffrey Billardouin arrived and in 1209 the Venetians.
The Venetians fortified Koroni and Methoni, at the western edge of the peninsula, securing the trade routes to the south. Koroni was strong and flourished quickly. In 1428 the Turks failed to conquer it. They did it in 1500. In 1532 the Genoese Andrea Doria, head of the Christian fleet of Western Europe, captured the castle but two years later the leader of the Turkish fleet Barbarossa Hajredin, a former pirate, took it back. Doria escaped saving two thousand residents with Cicilian ships headed in Italy.
The Venetians returned under Morosini in 1687; the Turks in 1718. The inhabitants lived new adventure in 1770. The Russian fleet under Orlov bombarded the castle, but shortly after, terminated the siege leaving the inhabitants in their fate. During the Greek Revolution of 1821 the Greeks besieged the castle without success. Koroni liberated by General Maison, head of a French expeditionary force.
Koroni has two entrances. From the first, which is the main entrance, we reach the city center, the square next to the harbor. Continuing on the main road, we find the second entrance that leads to the Burgo neighborhood. The road passes in front of the castle and then descends to the city center.
The road of the first entrance is good, not wide enough with few turns and descends through a green landscape. Shortly after the entrance, to the left, is a large supermarket with parking space; a little further is the entrance of the camping area; and further, on a small plateau, we can stop and admire Koroni. The view is spectacular, especially at sunrise or sunset. At the high point is the castle, the houses built along the slopes and lower the port with sailboats and fishing boats scattered in the bay or tied up at the pier.
Going down the road, to the right side, are beuatiful houses with gardens and rooms for rent. Entering the town, the houses remind the old Koroni. The road splits. To the right a uphill road leads to the highest point of the city. During August and because of the traffic, becomes one direction road. But be careful. Some people do not always follow the rules.
The left junction leads to the square with the church of Aghios Demetrius, the patron saint of Koroni. In the square is the bus terminal, the taxi rank and the National Bank. Here and around is the city market, in the street opposite to the entrance of the church and into the street on the other side, the main street of Koroni.
Upwards, alleys start; many of them continue with stairs. Small houses, glued to each other, with colors enhancing the medieval atmosphere; white, blue and yellow walls with blue or red windows. Among the first streets is the stone church of Aghios Georgios. Higher stands the whitewashed church of Aghios Nickolaos.
On the other side of the main road is the coastal road, Molos (Mole) as the area is called. Then a large traditional café and afterwards modern cafes, bar and taverns. The tables are under cover and in front of them the magic view of the bay.
On the left side the large courtyard of the school is used as a summer parking. Parking area can also be found at the end of the road after the taverns; there is the pier and the large square with some big old impressive buildings. In the evenings during the summer and especially in August, you need some luck to find a place to leave your car. This square also leads to the main road from the inside. Above stands the imposing castle of Koroni. From there we can head towards the main gate.
From above, the view from the main gate to Koroni and the bay is amazing. The main paved street of the castle takes us to another city stopped in time, although some houses are still inhabited.
The castle has two enclosures and stands on two levels. The central Gothic gate faces north. The Byzantine fortress was built at the highest level to the south, in the area of the monastery of Aghios Ioannis the Baptist.
Lower, the east side of the castle, going left on the main road, was fortified by the Venetians. A second narrow gate overviews the Messinian Gulf. Towers and ramparts stand on the steep slope, which descends towards the sea, to Livadia beach. In the 16th century the Turks built fortifications with artillery positions on the southwestern side of the castle.
Within the walls the medieval town was developed. Nowadays, almost silent, it welcomes visitors in the narrow streets with old houses and churches. There we can find the vaulted warehouses and the catacombs.At the highest level is the church of Aghios Charalambos - the San Rocco as it was called during the Venetian era. Close by is what is left of the famous Byzantine church of Aghia Sophia (God's Wisdom), built in the 12th century. There are still marble columns. Next to it is the entrance to the nunnery of Aghios Ioannis the Baptist, which has played an important role in the history of Koroni.
A walk among the trees on the south side of the castle leads to the monument of heroes of Koroni. On the west side, stone stairs next to the monastery bring out of the castle. Below is one of the most beautiful locations; the church of Panagia Eleistria in a grove of palm trees above the west coast of Koroni.
The entrance to the park is from the city side. The church, dedicated to Zoodochos Peghe (Source), was built in 1901. A low stone belfry stands on the side of the large forecourt facing the sea. The view is amazing. Below, to the west, lies the sandy Zaga beach and beyond Memi beach; both three and a half kilometers long.
Inside the city of Koroni there are two beaches; one little after the port, below the castle, and another called Artaki near the campsite.At a short distance west of Koroni is the settlement Assini and four kilometers north the Charokopio, a picturesque village with fine taverns. One and a half kilometer from there are the beaches of Agios Ioannis and Agia Triada.
To the south the main road almost reaches the sea and turns westward to the sandy beach of Memi. There we can find a tavern that open from early hours till late in the evening. There is space for parking and in a part of the beach umbrellas and reclining chairs await the swimmers.
The beach is amazing and the water shallow. On the left lies the Zaga beach. In fact it is the same beach, only the name change. It is one of the beaches of southern Peloponnese, where the turtles Caretta-caretta come every year from May to nest. The points where they create their nests are marked and protected by the volunteers of the Association for the protection of sea turtles, so can be distinguished from swimmers and walkers.
The road continues to the west. Shortly after Memi beach is another tavern above the street with a nice view. The coast is somewhat steep. Hidden in the green, between rocks, are two small charming beaches. The path that leads to the first one needs attention; getting to the second beach, the approach is easier. The water is rather cold. That is why the beach is called Kryoneri (cold water). The environment is wonderful.Shortly after, the road turns inwards, passes near a large three-level restaurant and reaches a junction. The road to the right leads to the village Vasilitsi; at the highest point is a famous restaurant. Straight ahead, the road passes near the old monastery of Chryssokellaria and continues to Finikounda and Methoni. The branch to the left leads to the triangular peninsula in the south, ending at Cape Akritas.
The road leads to the eastern coast of the peninsula to the beautiful beaches Faneromeni, Kalamaki and Selitsa. Near the coast is the small island Venetiko. In the ancient times it was called Thiganoussa. It's 1,500 m. long, 700 m. wide and a height of 181m. It is a nice destination for sea trips and fishing.
From Kalamaki the road leads to the west coast of the peninsula, to Tsapi, with a nice beach, restaurants and a camping area. We can also use a dirt road to get there that starts from the main road at Varyka, heading to Finikounda.
Local food and cuisine - Fish, lobster, octopus, seafood is always on the table; also local recipes; often, roast "gourounopoula" (pork), a traditional dish of Messinia. The preparation begins from the day before and needs hours to get ready
Local products - The place is famous for the olives and the olive oil. "Koroneiki" variety of olive has international reputation; some varieties are used for olive oil production, other are edible only.
Festivities - Festivals in celebration of the church of Panagia Eleistria near the castle, on Friday after Easter and on August 15.
Useful telephones (+30)Municipality of Koroni 27250 22221
Medical center 27250 22208
Police department 27250 22203
Port authority 27250 22377
Post office 27250 22260
TAXI 27250 22281
Koroni bus station 27250 27210
Kalamata train station 27210 95056
Kalamata Buses 27210 23147
Kalamata port authority 27210 22218