Pellana Laconia Greece – A tourist’s delight

Abalinx Social Media

Abalinx 30 June 2018 Peter Adamis

After many years of waiting, Pellana, the ancient capital of Lakonia Greece (Long before the arrival the Dorians who developed the Spartan culture) are finally being recognized as such.  

Appropriate long overdue signage pointing to the ancient Royal Tombs, the Palace of the Menelaus (Master of the War Cry) and his wife Helen of Troy, to the village centre and on the outskirts of Pellana have been erected.

Pellana is a great place to stop, visit and used as a staging post for exploring the wider region and neighbouring states.  Visits to the island of Kythera is a must as well as stops along the Lakonian coast for swimming enthusiasts during the tourist season.   Best times to visit Pellana is between the periods April until November of each year.  December to March are considered the months of winter and snow on the mountains of Taygetos only adds to the charm of the villages covered with snow.

Signage was installed recently by the Pellana Association led by its President Arthur Varoutsios. The Association worked together to install the signs in their respective locations.  In addition to the signs, flag masts have also been installed in the town centre near the monument “Vrisi” meaning “spring” donated by Kostas Sgourdas.

Tourists can visit the three main church chapels and view the icons that have been installed over many years by the local and from the diaspora.   The Pellana Womens Association have begun a museum project, utilising the old Primary school located in the upper part of the village near Saints Helen and Konstantine church. The current President is Katerina Feikou and the women raise funds for the museum.

The flag mast and Greek flag at the town centre was donated and installed by an anonymous benefactor and is looked after by John Rassias the son of the late George Rassias. (One of the first Greek commandoes to be trained by the British post WW2).   The flag mast and Greek flag donated by an anonymous benefactor and installed on the  Palio kastro (ancient castle and palace of King Tyndareus father of Helen of Troy) is the responsibility of Ilias Sigalos the son of the late Chris Sigalos (Pellana elder).  A ten meter high flag mast flying the Greek flag has been erected on a knoll located 500 metres before entering the village from the highway. This has now become an identifying feature seen from kilometres in the distance. 

Pellana Hellenic ANZAC Gardens.       The Pellana Hellenic ANZAC Gardens are located 500 meters outside the city centre. There is a small chapel (Panagia – Mary Mother of Christ), Flag mast, commemorative garden, Avenue of Honour, Marble stele depicting village families, four marble stele depicting various scenes such as Gallipoli, Thermopylae, Battle of Greece and Crete, Kokoda Track, Ode to Australians of Greek heritage. 

Embedded around a column depicting souls of those of a bygone era.  Finally a Tholos like tomb which house the ANZAC ODE in Greek and in English. The sun’s rays touch the stone and marble monument in the morning and at the going down of the sun.   Three flag masts have been installed to house the Greek, Australian and the New Zealand flags. These are flown on Greek Independence Day, ANZAC Day and OXI Day (28 October) each year.

Pellana Hellenic ANZAC Gardens is the work of Peter Adamis, supported by Maurice Barwick, Barrie Daniel and Don Norman. (All ex ADF veterans). Kostas Sgourdas, (master mason) and his son Stephanos Sgourdas are the stone masons for the marble stele. The Gardens are an ongoing project and it is expected to be completed by 2020.   ANZAC Gardens may be viewed at abalinx.com

 

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

The village.                  Pellana is slowly being exposed to the world at large and tourists are beginning to uncover its hidden wonders.  Signage is just the beginning and one hopes that this lively sleepy little town finally takes its rightful place in the history of Ancient Greece.   Pellana is three hours by bus from Athens and 15 minutes Sparta.  You can obtain a very good meal at Dinas (Sigalos) Cafe/Diner or Aunt Giannoula for light refreshments and if you are lucky you may get a walking tour of the village by any of the locals.

Taverns.           Taverns may be found at the lower part of the town near the Town spring and huge plane tree common to most Laconian villages.  Dina’s (Sigalos) Café/Diner is always a welcome place to drop in for a meal and refreshment s.  Giannoula Morphis is located next door providing refreshments and light snacks. At the upper end of the village another town centre can be found at least two other taverns where you can obtain a meal from Georgia and Paul Philipopoulos or Dimitri Maliaros establishments.

Transport.        The Dimos family operate four taxis that service the Northern villages. They are clean, swift and modern taxi cabs. Other modes of transport can be arranged using local talent and resources after the price has been agreed upon.

Hobby Farms.  There are numerous hobby farms in and around the village. Stavros Mihalopoulos and Chris Glekas farms come to mind.  Others are located nearby and would require local support to reach them.

Ruins of a bygone era. There are numerous homes that have fallen into ruin because of neglect, occupiers passed on and/or have migrated overseas thus leaving the building to decay naturally. These are of interest to the tourist as it will enable them t obtain an idea what life was life post Ottoman occupation and pre Diaspora period.  A local guide would be of immense help to show interested tourists. 

Stone museum.                        At the top of the village you can visit the Stone museum which is under construction and the project of Kostas Sgourdas the Master Mason now retired. 

Church of Prophet Ilias.           Further up past the Church of Prophet Ilias you can visit the Pellanis cavern which is hidden amongst the dense undergrowth using a well-known marked track.

Taygetos mountain range.        On the return trip down to the village centres you will obtain magnificent photographs of the Taygetos mountain range and the valleys below.

Olive Presses.  Olive Presses are open to the public upon request from the Aristotle Karagiannis and Philipopoulos (Fasaria) families. These two service the Northern village olive growing district.

Local historian.            The Pellana local historian is Professor Stavros Maheras who is well known for knowledge of ancient and modern Pellana.

Bus tours.        Bus tours often come through with Spyropoulos the archaeologist credited with finding ancient Pellana and he provides tourists with the intricate parts of Pellana’s ancient history.

Pellanis Cavern.                       Located some two kilometres above the village heading towards Georgitsi can be reached using a local guide. This cavern has been in existence for thousands of years, used by a number of inhabitants.  The last time it was inhabited was during the Greek Civil war. It was also a cavern used to cattle stolen from various neighbouring villages by local brigands and cattle rustlers. The cavern is currently being restored to ensure tourist safety by the local people.

Accommodation.         Accommodation may be found in Kastori some 5 kilometres to the South of Pellana or in Sparta 15 minutes to the South.

Kastori Gorge and Jungle.       There is a gorge and jungle scenery at Kastori.  There are plenty of mountain village restaurants and a tour of the northern villages is a must see using the Dimos Taxis at Pellana.

Bakery.             Pellana has its own bakery and it services villages in the north and neighbouring states of Messenia and Archaea.

Mountain Treks.                       There are mountain treks for those who enjoy orienteering and it is possible to rent tiny mountain cottages that are equipped for small groups.  Oregano, wild asparagus, vegetables, cattle, goats, boars, tea and wild flowers are found in abundance.   During the mountain treks there are many hidden villages that can be pointed out by a local guide. These villages are hundreds of years old and nature has covered these almost lost villages with dense undergrowth.

Hunting.           Those interested in hunting may do so during the hunting season. Hunters may join local residents on their organized hunting tours and wild boar, goats, rabbits, hares, ducks and other fowl of the air. It is strongly suggested that hunting licenses are registered with the law enforcement in Sparta.

Vehicle hire.     Hiring a car can be undertaken at airports, Athens, Sparta or other major towns. Well known rental car companies provide excellent services at affordable prices.

PELLANA FESTIVALS.   
There is nothing better than a gathering of family, friends and mates enjoying the local culinary talent, food, wine, music and dancing.   Almost every month during the months April – May- June – august and September there festival of one kind or another happening in the village or another close by. This year (2018) The President of the Village Pellana, Arthur Varoutsios and his committee put on a free May Day BBQ. It is the first time that the village has put it on for many years.   The BBQ WAS conducted on the highest point of the village located near the church Prophet Ilias. As one looks down upon the village below you can see a ring of Australian eucalyptus trees, a gift from the Australian government many years ago.         

From this height you can see the new highway that connects Athens with Sparta. This was officially opened in April 2016. Our cottage located on a small knoll is dead centre between the highway and the village.   Above the church towards the chapel called Analipsi is the Neolithic Cavern named Pellanis. This was rediscovered last year and construction of a rudimentary track created along with safety barriers to stop curious visitors from destroying the stalactites and natural formations within the cavern.

TOURIST TOURS

  1. GROUP TOURS – TWO OR MORE INDIVIDUALS NOT INCLUDING DRIVER.
  2. SINGLE TOURS – ONE MEMBER AND DRIVER.

    A. SOUTHERN VILLAGES GROUP TOUR. LUNCH AT GYTHIEO OR ANAVRITI. MEALS NOT INCLUDED. (APPROXIMATE COST: E90.00 EACH)

    B. SOUTHERN VILLAGE TOUR. LUNCH AT GUTHIEO OR ANAVRITI. MEALS NOT INCLUDED. (APPROXIMATE COST: E150.00 SINGLE)

    C. NORTHERN VILLAGES GROUP TOUR. LUNCH AT GEORGITSI OR KASTORI. MEALS NOT INCLUDED. (APPROXIMATE COST: E90.00 EACH)

    D. NORTHERN VILLAGES TOUR. LUNCH AT GEORGITSI OR KASTORI. MEALS INCLUDED. (APPROXIMATE COST: E150.00 SINGLE)

    E. PELLANA TOUR OF TOMBS, PALACE RUINS, VILLAGE, CAVERNS, OLIVE PRESSES, TAVERNAS, STONE MUSEUM, LOCAL MUSEUM, CHURCHES,  TURKISH RUINS, PARDALI, ANCIENT WELLS, KEFALOVRISI, EVROTAS RIVER. LUNCH OR DINNER AT DINAS TAVERN. MEALS NOT INCLUDED. (APPROXIMATE COST:  E90.00)

    F. EACH KASTORI MOUNTAIN COTTAGES AND 2.00 HOURS HIKE DOWN MOUNTAIN, KASTORI GORGE, KASTORI VILLAGE, SHOPPING, LUNCH OR DINNER AT KASTORI OR PELLANA INCLUDED. (APPROXIMATE COST:  E150.00)

    G. AGIO GIANNI CHAPEL TAYGETOS MOUNTAIN HIKE, MOUNTAIN SCENERY, LUNCH AT KASTORI OR DINNER AT PELLANA INCLUDED. (APPROXIMATE COST:  E150.00 EACH)

    H. VISIT TO SPARTA GROUP TOUR OF ANCIENT RUINS, MENALEAON, MYSTRAS, MUSEUM, SHOPPING, LUNCH AT SPARTA. MUSEUM FEES AND LUNCH NOT INCLUDED. (APPROXIMATE COST:   E90.00 EACH)

    I. VISIT TO SPARTA TOUR OF ANCIENT RUINS, MUSEUM, MENALEAON, MYSTRAS, SHOPPING, LUNCH AT SPARTA. MUSEUM AND LUNCH INCLUDED. (APPROXIMATE COST:   E150.00 SINGLE)

    J. VISIT TO MYCENAE GROUP TOUR, NAUPLIO, CASTLE, MYCENAE MUSEUM, TYRINS,  LUNCH AT NAUPLIO.  (APPROXIMATE COST:   MUSEUM FEES AND LUNCH NOT INCLUDED.  E150.00)

    K. VISIT TO MYCENAE TOUR, NAUPLIO, CASTLE, MYCENAE MUSEUM, TYRINS, LUNCH AT NAUPLIO. MUSEUM FEES AND LUNCH INCLUDED. (APPROXIMATE COST:   E200.00)

    L. BEACH GROUP TOURS.  (COSTS: NEGOTIABLE)

    M. MOUNTAIN TOURS. (COSTS: NEGOTIABLE)

    N. MUSEUM TOURS.  (COSTS: NEGOTIABLE)

    O. NEIGHBOURING STATE TOURS.  (COSTS: NEGOTIABLE)

    P. ANCIENT RUINS TOURS.   (COSTS: NEGOTIABLE)

    Q. ISLAND TOURS.  (COSTS: NEGOTIABLE)

Peter Adamis is a Journalist/Social Media Commentator and writer. He is a retired Australian military serviceman and an Industry organisational & Occupational (OHS) & Training Consultant whose interests are within the parameters of domestic and international political spectrum. He is an avid blogger and contributes to domestic and international community news media outlets as well as to local and Ethnic News. He holds a Bachelor of Adult Learning & Development (Monash), Grad Dip Occupational Health & Safety, (Monash), and Dip. Training & Assessment, Dip Public Administration, and Dip Frontline Management. Website: abalinx.com Contact via Email: [email protected]



 

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