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My Great Greek Adventure: Romanos, Rich in Many Ways

Εθνικός Κήρυξ

My Great Greek Adventure: Romanos, Rich in Many Ways

Located in the region of Messenia on the southwestern coast of the Peloponnese is the area called Romanos. Just an hour's drive from the main city of Kalamata, the town and beachside of Romanos has become an ultra-lux getaway. As you head towards Romanos, leaving the mountains behind you to the east, the land becomes calmer and more serene. Fields full of olive groves characterize the area, offering olives and oil as fresh as you can find. During the ancient Bronze Age, the entire area was a significant Mycenean settlement. It was here that archeologists found extensive amounts of well-preserved tablets containing Linear B script. Linear B was a written language used by the Myceneans and it was used specifically in important sites like palaces. This script has also been observed in other ancient palaces throughout Greece like Knossos on the island of Crete. As far as research has discovered thus far, Linear B is the oldest pre-Greek script and dates back to roughly 1450 BC.

One of the most important structures preserving Mycenean culture is the Palace of Nestor. It is located less than fifteen minutes to the east of the Romanos area as the mountains begin to appear again. The palace gains its name from one of the characters in the Iliad and the Odyssey, King Nestor of Pylos, a city on the western coast of Messenia. The now archeological site features the remains of the palace itself. Other structures in the vicinity were damaged in a fire around 1400 BC and eventually made room for the construction of the building that stands today. Now protected by a permanent awning, the ruined walls of the palace depict the final residence of the king and include modern luxuries such as a bathroom. Many of the artwork and frescos that adorned the walls have luckily been preserved. Directly next to the palace is a cone shaped structure that at first sight might not be what you would expect. Formally named Tholoi, these structures were used as burial tombs for those that held a high status in the community. Evidence of their elite status was supported by the quantities of precious metals like gold found inside the tombs.

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The modern town of Pylos is currently one of the most popular and developed in the area. Located just a twenty-minute drive south from Romanos, Pylos has greatly influenced the history of this part of Greece. Its significance is not just in ancient history but also in the battles that took place here during the fight for Greek Independence beginning in 1821. The Battle of Navarino as it was called, was a decisive fight that helped defeat the Ottomans. With the aid of allies from France, Britain, and Russia, October 8, 1927 saw a naval battle that would destroy the Ottoman's fleet and ensure success for the Greek Revolution. Today, Pylos is a quiet coastal town with a lively port and loyal visitors and residents. It is perfect for an evening dining experience along the water with a view of the sunset.

But there is one particular beachside area adjacent to the village of Romanos that is now famous. A village sized resort called Costa Navarino now graces this waterfront area along the Navarino sand dunes. Within it are two five-star resorts, The Westin and The Romanos. The resorts have been known to welcome many A-list celebrities from all over the world including soccer star Christiano Ronaldo. It is no wonder why people seek out this place, with its own beach, fine dining, and world-class golf course. The owners of Costa Navarino are expanding their vision into other parts of Messenia, developing more resort properties while also investing in preservation projects of olive groves and beachfronts.

And it is in fact the natural wonders surrounding the Romanos area that make it so appealing to developers and travelers to explore. Among the popular sites, the beach Voidokilia stands out. Located less than ten minutes from Romanos, the horseshoe shaped beach is a seemingly secluded place. The waters are calm because the shape of the beach protects it from too much wind. Its highly recommended to walk all the way to far end of the beach where you can then see the tall cliff that houses the Old Navarino Castle. All around are ascending sand dunes that eventually lead to the beginning of a path towards the castle. This entry way is quite steep, so you may want to try the other path located by the bay on the opposite side of this singular mountain. If you do climb to the top of the castle, you will see the full size of the bay that cradles Voidokilia beach and almost keeps it hidden, as well as the oblong shaped island Sfaktiria that is just barely detached from the mainland. And if you look closely you can see the town Pylos across the bay.

In addition to the adventurous Voidokilia beach, there are also plenty of easy-access beaches along all the coastal towns. KOA Beach bar located on the same long beach as Costa Navarino is a popular spot in the summer, hosting parties regularly and attracting a crowd of all ages. The sand is like super tiny pebbles and comfortable to walk on but will not stick to you uncomfortably. It is also not uncommon to witness baby turtles hatching out of their protected sections on the beach and making their way to the water with help from their conservators. This part of Greece has been a hidden gem that is only recently becoming a point of interest. Its western coast is full of open and free beaches and of course, extraordinary sunsets. Although now more known to travelers, the area has not fallen to tourist gimmicks. You can easily find a traditional taverna or café housed in classic village architecture. Along with most of Greece, there is no shortage of history and ancient sites to admire. To reach Romanos or nearby Pylos is about a three-hour drive from Athens. The same amount of time it would take you to get to an island, with half of the hassle and the same if not more of the calm and secluded charm.