Kalavrita

KALAVRITA - Distance from Ermioni: 206 kms/3.5 hours 

Kalavrita (Kalavryta) is a small village located in the mountainous region of Achaea, in the Peloponnese.  It sits next to the river Vouraikos, South East of Patras and North West of Tripoli.  In summer it is a breathtaking village location, in winter it is a paradise for skiers. From Diakofto on the Northern coastline of the Peloponnese, between Corinth and Patras, Kalavrita can be reached by road or rail.  Most day visitors to Kalavrita prefer this journey by the narrow 750mm guage railway.  Built by the Italians in 1885, the train travels around 22 kilometres, taking about an hour to reach Kalavrita at 750 metres above sea level. There are 3 train departures from Diakofto during the week.  The journey takes you through some amazing scenery, past high mountains and breathtaking gushing mountain streams, along single-track bridges and through narrow rock hewn tunnels.  

Kalavrita itself is historically remembered throughout all of Greece for the start of the Greek Revolution in March 1821, when Metropolitan Germanos of old Patras blessed the Hellenic standard in the church within the Monastery of Agia Lavra.  This act ignited the revolt in the Peloponnese, that soon spread throughout Greece.  The Hellenic people fought a long bloody War of Independence against the Ottoman Turkish Empire which had enslaved the local population for nearly 400 years.  In May 1832, the country was recognised as an independent nation by the leading European powers with the Treaty of Constantinopole.  There is an annual re-enactment and celebration of the blessing and oaths taken by the freedom fighters outside the small church of Agia Lavra on 25th March, the day all of Greece celebrates its Independence Day.

The other historical date of infamy is the terrible massacre of all the male population over the age of 14, on 13th December 1943, by occupying Nazi German troops.  Over 700 men and boys were taken onto Kapi Hill overlooking the village, and machine-gunned. The women and girls of Kalavrita had been gathered by the village school (now the Holocaust Museum) locked inside, and the school set ablaze with all the other village buildings.  It is said that one Austrian soldier took pity on the captives as the troops were leaving, and helped the women and girls to escape.  They then had to discover the fate of their husbands, brothers, sons, uncles, cousins and friends.  The site of the massacre is now a memorial site dedicated to the memory of all the victims, their names and ages recorded on giant stone panels.  The school and cathedral were rebuilt after the war, with the cathedral still showing the time of the massacre, 14:34, on one of it's clock towers.

Today, Kalavrita has become a wonderful village resort which attracts many day and weekend visitors throughout the year, and when the snow falls, Kalavrita converts into a winter ski resort, which draws thousands of skiers from all over Greece.  On leaving the railway station, you can walk up towards the village high street, past the Holocaust Museum and the main square with the cathedral, fountain and small church.  Beyond the square you will encounter numerous tourist gift shops selling local produce, hand-made arts and crafts, with a great choice of traditional tavernas, restaurants and modern cafes and bars.  There are also many hotels and guest houses, within the village, for visitors that may wish to extend their stay in this beautiful historic location.

The Memorial Site of the massacre (Place of Sacrifice) is a pleasant 2 km walk away, situated on the outskirts of the village on Kapi Hill, and well worth a visit.  A small underground shrine comemorates each person that was killed on this sacred site, their names and ages inscribed on giant stone tablets close by.  Most of the victims were taken away for burial by their loved ones, however, some were buried where they fell.  696 men and boys were murdered that Monday afternoon, 12 survived the massacre. 

The Monastery of Agia Lavra is just over 5 kms from Kalavrita at 960 metres above sea level, but check on the limited opening times, as the Monastery is still in daily use by the resident monks.  The Monastery was originally built in the 10th Century, but was burnt down by various invaders throughout its history, the last destruction was on 14th December 1943, the day after the massacre in Kalavrita. The small church next to the Monastery is where Metropolitan Germanos gave his blessing to the Hellenic freedom fighters that gave their oath of 'Freedom or Death' in March 1821 to start the revolution against the occupying armies of the Ottoman Turkish Empire.  You will probably require a taxi to visit the Monastery if you decide to travel to Kalavtita by train.    

Odontotos rack railway timetable and ticket prices 2017:

Diakofto to Kalavrita:       Daily - 08:45 - 11:15 - 14:32       Weekends - 12:30 - 15:50

Kalavrita to Diakofto:       Daily - 09:57 - 12:27 - 15:50       Weekends - 14:30 - 16:50

Ticket price per person:  9.50 Euros one way  - 19 Euros return

Location

Greece
38° 1' 55.9344" N, 22° 6' 41.0292" E
Picture Gallery
Kalavrita - The Odontotos train station at Diakofto Kalavrita - Setting off from Diakofto Kalavrita - Crossing one of many bridges Kalavrita - The train journey passing through forest woodland Kalavrita - One of many mountain tops along the journey Kalavrita - Yet more curving bridges along the way Kalavrita - Odontotos train coming out of a narrow tunnel Kalavrita - One of many station stops along the journey Kalavrita - Spectacular mountain tops Kalavrita - Track going through narrow rock hewn tunnels Kalavrita - Breathtaking gushing mountain streams Kalavrita - Spectacular mountain track scenes Kalavrita - On the open high valley plain Kalavrita - Odontotos track train arriving at the village Kalavrita - Final train stop at Kalavrita station Kalavrita - Local passengers leaving the train station Kalavrita - The village train station Kalavrita - Cathedral and chapel in the main square Kalavrita - Cathedral frontage with twin clocks Kalavrita - Main square view of the high street Kalavrita - Numerous tourist gift shops along the high street Kalavrita - Monument of the Massacre - Kapi Hill Kalavrita - View of the village from Kapi Hill Kalavrita - Victims buried where they fell in 1943 Kalavrita - The sacred cemetery on Kapi Hill Kalavrita - The underground shrine to the massacred victims Kalavrita - Commemorating each massacre victim Kalavrita - Sculptures to the fallen alongside the shrine Kalavrita - Memorial to the massacre at the Holocaust Museum Kalavrita - The village Holocaust Museum building Kalavrita - Monastery of Agia Lavra Kalavrita - Blessing of the flag in Agia Lavra - March 1821 Kalavrita - Annual re-enactment of the famous blessing Kalavrita - Church and Monastery of Agia Lavra Kalavrita - Famous Greek winter ski resort Kalavrita - Attracts skiers from all over Greece