The region of Southwest Peloponnisos is actually the leftmost finger of the three "fingers" of the Peloponnese pennsula.
It has beautiful landscape and beaches , mild weather and clima , great history and many historical monuments.
(most of the info comes from the site www.pylos.net)
Pylos is a small town, with about 3.000 inhabitants, in the Southwest part of the Peloponnese. It is built in the natural bay of Navarino, that is protected by the island of Sfaktiria. It is 52 km from Kalamata, the capital of Messinia. One can get here following the route from Patras (216 km) driving through Patras-Pyrgos-Kyparissia, a seaside route for the most part. or inland from Athens (305 km.) through Korinth-Artemisio-Tripoli-megalopoli-Kalamata.
All roads are for the larger part highways, except the route from Kalamata to Pylos, which is ordinary national road.
The Municipality of Pylos includes, besides the town of Pylos, he villages Elaiofyto, Shoinolaka and Gialova. Pylos was built based to plans by the Officers of the French general Maison, in 1828.
A special trait of Pylos, other than its spectacular amphitheatrical layout that offers an exceptional iew of the town and the island of Sfaktiria as the traveller descents towards the port, is the Three Admirals Square, in the centre of the town with its impressing sycamore trees.
Pylos is the birth town of Kostis Tsiklitiras, the Greek Olympic Games winner in the V Olympic Games held in Stocholm ιν 1912. His house is still standing even though in a bad condition and is now the property of the Municipality of Pylos, bought from the National Bank of Greece. The Municipality plans to have it restore and used as a cultural centre.
Pylos has a continuous historical presence since pre-historic times. The first Messinians arrived in the area in about 3300-3100 B.C. and the land flourished ever since especially in Mycenean times as is apparent from the Palace of Nestor in Eglianos. There are references about Pylos in Homer and Thucidides as in many other ancient Greek writers.
According to tradition, it was founded by Pylos, son of Klisonas. In the beggining it was called Korifasion, taking its name from the nearby cape. Pylos was conquered in 425 by the Athenian general Dimosthenes, while the counter-attack that the Spartans launched with Vrasidas, was not succesful, due to the determined defence that the Athenians presented.
After the Nikieion Peace, Pylos was under Spartan domination. The ruined city was reconstructed in 369 B.C. and flourished during the hellenistic times, when its domination was disputed among the Spartans and the Achaic Conglomeration.
Pylos retained its importance during the Roman and Byzantine eras until the 6th century, when it falls into the hands of the Avars and changes its name to Avarino (from which came the name Navarino).
During 1287-1308 the despot of Thebes Nicholas B' SaintOmer fortified it with a castle. It was conquerred by the Navarres around 1385, the Enetians in 1417 and in 1500 it fell in the hands of the Turks. The Enetians conquered it again in 1686 and the Turks in 1715.
During the 1821 War of Independence Pylos rebelled under Georgakis and Nikolaos Oikonomidis, with the help of an Eptanisian corps with Merkatis and Maniats under Pierrakos Mavromihalis and a squadron from Spetses and forced the Turks to surrender the castle (August 7, 1821).
In 1825 Imprahem occupied the castle and the town and kept it under his command until the sea battle of Navarino, where the allied forces fleets, under Heyden, Codrington and Derigny defeated the Turk-Egypitan armada suffering almost no losses on their side.
Pylos and the island of Sfacteria
Partial view of Pylos and the marina
From the castle
beach near Pylos
The attraction of Pylos, does not only lie in its history and position. It is also very well known because of the beautiful nature resources that lie a short distance from the town. The Gialova lagoon is a place of supreme beauty and interest. Visit it during the whole year, and enjoy the varitey of flora and fauna that it has to offer.
The lagoon is the habitat of a large variety of birds and animals. Explore it!
The area of Pylos has an exceptional physical environment. Its geomorphical layout and position, impressive and beautiful, has contributed to its being an important biotope with a variety of ecosystems. In particular, the laggon at Gialova, or Divari as it is also called, is one of the parts of Greece that is the route of the migratory birds on their way to the South. It is part of Natura 2000. Here you can find most of the kinds of birds of Greece. It is also the only part of Europe that is the habitat of the African Chameleon, an endangered species.
The volunteers of the Hellenic Ornithological Society organise guided tours during the winter months (for schools concerned with environmental education) as well as the summer months for anyone who might be interested. The tour lasts about an hour and a half and includes, besides viewing the birds and their habitats with telescopes provided by the members of the Society, the Nature Trail that takes you through the various ecosystems at the laggon as well as information about the general ecological value of the area. The cost of the tour is 15000 drachmas or 1500 drachmas per person for over 10 people. There is also a kiosk operating in the summer, at the port, right opossite the City Hall, with information material. For more information contact Nicole Vlachogianni (tel. 0030 723 023227).
The laggon is at 36o 58' N, 21o 40' E and occupies and area of 2.000 hectares. It is characterised as a non-protected area and the Hellenic Ornithological Society from which comes the following data, are trying to include it in the protected wetlands. It is also a Life-Nature programme titled Pylos-Evrotas in order to preserve the unique environment of the area. The website of the programme is a virtual tour in the area and offers valuable information about the african chameleon (it is the only breeding place in Europe) the fish, birds and reptiles of the area as well as the nature path that runs the length of the lagoon.
Accoring to the data by the Hellenic Ornithological Society it is a: "brackish lagoon with marshes, partially dried at summer, on Navarino bay. The main human activities are cattle raising, fishery and hunting. Its importance during the breeding season is not well known. Recently, the surrounding saltflat was drained. Hunting seems to be a very serious problem.
Breeding species include the Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus (20+ pairs), the Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus, the Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus (1 pair), the Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (maximum 5 pairs), the Little Tern Sterna albifrons, the Kingfisher Alcedo atthis and, possibly, the Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola. During migration, several species occur like the Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber, the Black Kite Milvus migrans, the Osprey Pandion haliaetus and the Crane Grus grus."
THE CASTLE OF PYLOS (NIOKASTRO ) AND THE BATTLE OF NAVARINO
In 1573, two years after the defeat of the Ottoman fleet at the naval battle of Naupactos (Lepanto), the Turks built the fortress of Pylos, with the aim of controlling the southern entrance to the bay of Navarino, the largest natural harbour in the Peloponnese. The new fortress was called Niokastro (New Castle), to distinguish it from Palio Navarino (Old Castle), the Frankish castle on the peninsula of Koryphasion, which had controlled the opposite, norhtern entrance to the bay up to this time.
church in the castle
Navarino Bay, is the only large natural harbour on the W coast of the Peloponnese. It is enclosed on the seaward side by the island of Sfaktiria, a huge rocky barrier 4.6 km (3 miles) long and rising to a height of 135m (443 feet)
In 1686, the Venetian admiral Morosini captured Niokastro after a siege and it was turned into the seat of the Overseer, the Venetian governor of the area. During their period of occupation (1686-1715), the Venetians repaired and strengthened the castle at many points. In 1715, Niokastro was recaptured by the Turks, who made it the headquarters of the vilaet of Navarino. It remained in Turkish hands until the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, apart from a brief interlude of a few months in 1770, when it was captured by the Russian forces under the Orloff brothers. The castle was surrendered to the Greeks in 1821. At the beginning of 1825, Ibrahim Pasha disembarked in the Peloponnese at the head of Egyptian forces and encamped at Niokastro. The Castle was placed under an asphyxiating siege lasting three months, during which dramatic events unfolded both inside and outside it, ending with the capitulation of the Greeks and the surrender of Niokastro to Ibrahim. A leading role in these events was played by the Greek general Ioannis Makrigiannis, who was left us an elegant account of them. After the victorius outcome of the battle of Navarino in 1827, European doplomacy decided in favour of the creation of an independent Greek state. Niokastro remained in Ibrahim's hands until September 1828, however, when it was surrendered to the French forces of General Maison. Since 1892, when it devolved upon the Ephorate of Maritime Antiquities some of the rooms have been remodelled (after the excavation and restoration work) to house the Underwater Research Center for Marine Antiquities. The main architectural features of Niokastro, which covers an area of about 19 acres, are the two square bastions on the west-side, which face the sea, the hexagonal citabel at the south-west edge, and the fortification wall, which is reinforced with four round towers and links the individual fortress complexes.
n 19 September 1807, Russia made its departure from the Mediterranean. The Tilsit Treaty put an end to the Russian fleet's brief but significant stay off Corfu. With ten ships of the line and three frigates, Vice-Admiral Senyavin proceeded through the Straits of Gibraltar to the Baltic. With six ships of the line, four frigates and small cruisers, Commodore Baratynsky remained in Corfu to officially transfer control of the island to the French.
In the early spring of 1826, the new Emperor of Russia, Nicholas I, recalled the disgraced Senyavin, promoted him to the rank of full admiral and charged him to lead a squadron consisting of nine ships of the line, seven frigates, one corvet and four brigantines, and to join the British and French fleets in an attempt to help the Greeks throw off the yoke of Ottoman oppression. On 8 August 1827, Senyavin reached Portsmouth. From there he turned back to the Baltic, leaving behind a squadron of four ships of the line, four frigates and five small cruisers under Rear Admiral Login Geiden.
On 1 October, off the Ionian Islands, British Vice-Admiral Edward Codrington took command of the combined squadron of three fleets. The Allied Armada then proceeded to the Bay of Navarino.
In the Bay of Navarino the Ibragim Pasha's Turkish-Egyptian Fleet-the Turkish squadrons under the command of Tagir Pasha, the Egyptian force under Mukharem Bey-sat waiting for the allies with three ships of the line, 23 frigates, 42 corvettes, fifteen brigs and 50 transports. The entrance to the bay was guarded by 145 cannon mounted on coastal batteries.
The Turks had a skilful advisor, the Frenchman Letellieu. Letellieu suggested a clever battle plan to Admirals Tagir and Muharem. The Turkish ships would form a giant horseshoe with their ships of the line and frigates, subjecting the attacking allied fleet to withering cross-fire. In the meantime, the allies sent an ultimatum to Ibragim Pasha demanding an end to combat operations against the Greeks.
The Turks rejected the ultimatum, using Ibragim's absence as an excuse. Then Codrington, Geiden and French commander de Reney resolved to cast anchor at Navarino, directly opposite the Turkish-Egyptian fleet, and force the Turks to submit to the allied demands by a massive demonstration of force. On 8 October 1827, the allied vessels proceeded into the Bay of Navarino at noon. Following Codrington aboard the 80-gun Asia, the British ships formed the vanguard. The French sailed behind the British. With his flag on the 74-gun Azov, Admiral Geiden sailed behind and to the left of the British.
As soon as the Asia had dropped anchor and lowered a boat with an envoy, the Turks opened fire. Codrington ordered immediate retaliation and the battle began. The Azov, commanded by Captain Mikhail Lazarev, sailed towards the centre of the battle line. Two large enemy frigates and a corvette were damaged and sunk by the Azov's fire. Two more vessels, the admiral's frigate and a ship of the line, caught fire and exploded. The Azov herself was riddled with 153 holes; the Russian seamen aboard the Gangut, Ezekiel and Castor distinguished themselves in battle though their ships were also badly damaged.
The allied forces supported each other during the course of battle. The Azov supported the Asia in a duel with Muharem Bey's 96-gun ship, and the French Breslau, in its turn, assisted the flagship of the Russian squadron. Within four hours the Battle of Navarino ended with the complete routing of the Turkish-Egyptian fleet, which had lost all its ships of the line, 22 frigates and 7,000 sailors. Only one battered frigate and fifteen small cruisers survived.
Not all the allied governments were pleased with such a victory. Because of his role in supporting the Russian fleet, the British condemned some of Codrington's decisions. The complete annihilation of the Turkish-Egyptian fleet was regarded, in a sense, as disadvantageous because it further strengthened Russia's position in the Mediterranean. Shortly after the battle Admiral Codrington was recalled to London.
The Russian Emperor, however, was more appreciative. All three allied admirals were awarded the Cross of St. George and Lazarev was promoted to Rear Admiral. The Azov was granted a newly established decoration, the Ensign of St. George. According to tradition, this ensign could be passed on to other vessels named in honour of the Azov.
The Russian squadron recovered from the battle and repaired its ships at Malta. Following the outbreak of the Russian-Turkish War of 1828-1829, Vice-Admiral Geiden took Rear Admiral Pyotr Rikord's detachment under his command. The squadron now numbered eight ships of the line, seven frigates, one corvette and six brigs. Geiden and Rikord managed to blockade the Dardanelles and impede the Turkish fleet's operations against the Greeks. On 21 April 1828, Lieutenant-Commander Ivan Sytin, aboard the 36-gun frigate Castor, captured the 20-gun Egyptian corvette Star of the East off the fortress of Madon. In January the Egyptian corvette Lioness and the brig Kandia were captured off Crete by Captain Ivan Butakov's ship Tsar Konstantin.
After the war's end, Geiden's squadron returned to the Baltic, leaving Rikord behind with a detachment of seven ships. In the summer of 1833 this detachment also returned to Russia.
Trion Navarchon (three admirals) square and memorial
The Battle of Navarino, 20 October 1827
Artist George Philip Reinagle