Kalamata is famous for 2 reasons: the olives, and the Kalamatiano traditional dance (Kalamata was also known for its cannabis cultivation, both industrial and recreational). Now, one can argue that reputations have been built on much less. But have you tried Kalamata olives? They’re really good.
HISTORY & ARCHITECTURE
The fact of the matter is that Kalamata has a breadth of history that is usually overlooked by a lot of tourists that visit the Peloponnese. As the capital of Messinia, it packs quite a punch relative to its size. Kalamata has suffered from the ignominy of earthquakes and invasions, so as to alter its architectural character. However, many parts of the town have been salvaged, notably the old quarter with its preserved cobble streets and several traditional Greek buildings with its terracotta tiled roofs and whitewashed facades.
The old and new city are strikingly different, and strolling around town you’ll be reminded of that. The old quarter includes several amazing churches, such as the super old Byzantine church of the Holy Apostles as well as the cathedral of Ypapantis. But the crowning jewel is the magnificent 1208 castle fortification built by the Venetians. Standing atop the hill overlooking the city, it is demonstrably alluring.
In addition to all that, a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Kalamata should get you up to speed on the region’s history, as should the aptly named Museum of Military History. Seeing that it was the Peloponnese that kick started the rebellion against the Ottomans it seems more than fitting.
Kalamata has history to boot. Just outside Kalamata lie the ruins of ancient Messini. This ancient town was built in 371 BC and stood proud for a very long time until the vagaries of time caught up with it. It is extensive and right up there with Delphi and Epidavros in terms of size. It’s well worth your time, without a doubt.
THINGS TO DO & SEE
Kalamata offers incredible sights and sounds. The farmers market is as always one of the most colorful events in a Greek urban setting. Needless to point out the urgency with which you ought to be snapping up Kalamata olives. You’ve visited the venerable center of olive excellence in Greece. Buy as much as you can, is what we have to say to you. A Greek salad will never taste the same back home, but you can make sure it’s as close as it gets.
Kalamata offers some spectacular country side activities. None of which can compare with a visit to the beach. There’s many, but we suggest the awe inspiring Voidokilia, or the big omega as it’s called here. This beach regularly cracks the top 10 worldwide and frankly, we’re somewhat mystified as to why this place isn’t packed to the rafters. If one happens upon the Dance festival sometime in the middle of the summer, then you’ve curried some favor with the Gods and you’ll be rewarded with an authentic as they come experience.
Kalamata is a destination that will leave you speechless. Its great draw is weirdly enough the lack of attention it gets. If this were a Cycladic island you wouldn’t find an empty chair, never mind accommodation.