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Profitis Elias - Maleas Cape - Santa Irene monastery - Velanidia

Trip Details

Trips inside Peloponissos
Date: Sat, 28/08/2010 to Sun, 29/08/2010
Distance: 230 km
Motorcyclists: Manolis, Sakis
Photographers: Manolis, Sakis
Authors: Manolis
Translators: Sakis
Map: Trip map

Sightseeing map

The Malea's Cape is known since ancient times. Features the ancient philosopher Strabonas says: "As you decide to pass the Malea, forget that you have family ..." wanted to highlight the risks run by all cabotage operators crossing this point. We visited the area by land and we believe that these words fit anyone visiting the area ... but not because of the hazards of the sea, but because of its beauty and charm of the place emits...
It had passed just a few days after our visit to Cape Tainaro. As we return, I said to Sakis that our next destination would be the cape Malea, the most eastern "leg" of the Peloponnese.

The last Saturday of the summer, we started relatively early to travel around 220km., until the village of Prifitis Elias, the most southern point of the peninsula road. We followed the path through Taygetos mountain to get to Sparti (70 km) through a landscape of exceptional natural beauty. Then for driver the plates to Elafonnisos, we passed the village of Skala, Vlachiotis, Molaous until we reach the seaside town of Neapoli (120 km). The road had many curves, while in some parts of the road was wide and comfortable. However you did not get the opportunity to move rapidly. In most of the route crossed olive having a view of the Laconian Gulf. At the end of the horizon you could discern Kythira.

Leaving Neapoli, we drove south on a narrow winding road. The vegetation was declining, while in some places we saw trees. Once we passed the picturesque Agios Nikolaos (10km), we continued for the next 6 km. to the small fishing village of Profitis Elias. This village signalled the end of our journey in asphalt road.

We stop a few minutes to rest and visited the small fishing port where around twenty boats perch. This part gives you the impression that it has not set its foot by a tourist ... The owner of the tavern and a local motorcyclist, who happened to come once we stopped, gave us useful information about the sights we wanted to visit.

So, we started riding east at a moderate traffic ability dirt road. Initially we saw the white chapel of St. Marina (4 km) continue for another 2km. with the gravel road to be passable. At its end began the trail to the Monastery of Saint Irene ... The area is known as the "Little Mount Athos" because of the many churches, monasteries and hermitages of which some have survived until today ...

The time was approaching 3pm... it was really hot! Nevertheless we were determined to reach the monastery, the most southern point of the peninsula. The path (2700m.) is marked, but the hike is quite strenuous. The narrow path is found at the edge of the cliff for about 50 to 60 min. Several points offer a stunning view of the area! As we went, sometimes wandered back and stared impressed from where we started ... it seemed so far away! Sometime discerned from afar the white monastery of St. Irene to stand perched on a steep slope beneath a clump of pines. We were anxious to reach...

When we were in the area surrounding the small monastery, felt as if we were at oasis. The shadow of the few trees came as a deliverance from the hot sun we were 'hit' mercilessly until then. We sat down to rest on a stone bench. I quickly realized that we were not alone. Soon after, a fellow came from a small building, that initially - because of the look- we thought it was a monk, Zacharias.

We met and sat down doing a nice chat. As he said to us, he was coming each year to the monastery and sit for a few days as a kind of "offerings". Without electricity and with only what is needed, is a place different from what everyday life is, for most of us. A place that makes you think and prioritize differently the significance of everything in life ... we didn’t miss the opportunity to visit the chapel of St. George, which is in undergoing restoration. From there you can enjoy the breathtaking views of the endless blue of the sea...

Nearby is the cave where St. Thomas from Malea lived in, which is visited by a relatively short trail that starts from St Irene.
In the words of Nick, a local we met at our excursion, near the monastery is the den of a famous pirate, Saligaros. This approach is difficult and requires the assistance of someone who knows the area.

In the afternoon it was time of return. We said farewell to Mr Zacharias and followed the path that led to where we left the bikes. Towards the village of Profitis Elias, we met the beach where is found the Petrified palm forest. A swim in the sea was the best ... The beach had white sand and the water, despite the fact that the sun was setting, it was clear ... Nearby were the petrified trunks of the palm trees. The colours of the sunset create a striking effect...
At 8pm we were in the tavern of the village Profitis Elias. We ate and discussed very impressed what we've seen up to that time, yet we worry about where we will spend the night ... free camping is prohibited in the area. So at 9pm. We decided to look for our luck to the region Rosemary, where there is an outdoor cafe-bar.

Shortly after we saw how successful our choice was as we had the opportunity to meet the cute Nick and his wife, owners of the tastefully decorated outdoor cafe-bar Rizmari. Nick is one of the region's young people really interested in their place. He knows too much about the history and topography and has been for us, among other things, a lot of very good information source.
With the chat the time passed without realizing, and we drank many beers. All these came to add the beautiful evening views of Kythira, of Neapoli and the passing illuminated boats... Nick offered us to setup our tents in his estate, under the shade of a big tree... God bless him...

Next day...
The shadow of the tree helped not to wake up too early. At 10am. we had gathered our things and departed bound for the village of Velanidia (20km) Shortly after Saint Nicholas, we met the junction and turn right along a winding, uphill path that climbed mountain Krithina, which essentially represent the end of mountain Parnonas. From a point on, the road descends, giving us views of Myrtoo Sea, it sees the east side of Laconia. Approximately 10km. after the intersection, emerged ahead the village of Velanidia. It is built amphitheatrically at the bold cliff. The village is very different from the rest of the region. Its white houses with colourful windows and the deep red tiled to make you think you are in an island!

Entering the village we found a cafe... that was the first coffee of the day. Once again we were lucky and had the opportunity to meet a congenial inhabitant of the village that told us much about the region... Velanidia is located in the ancient Side, when the area is populated by old and has a rich history. It has Long been the point-stop over the Cape Malea. The village of Velanidia were created by residents of Hydra and Spetses, and most inhabitants are sailors and fishermen. These days, trying to keep intact the character of the village and I think they have accomplished quite a significant extent. They are willing to accommodate, but have no desire to build hostels and taverns...

From Velanidia you can visit the lighthouse, or "lights" as the locals call the cape Malea (60 minutes walking in a passable path) and the German tower (about 20 minutes walking). Unfortunately, because of the lack of time we did not visit these sites ... Perhaps we did that, as we wanted to have the opportunity to revisit the region...

Late in the afternoon we took the road back. The area was a pleasant experience and surprising also. Landscapes and people are different. Although so far, you feel them so close to you...