Eleia

Pirgos is the capital of the prefecture of Eleia. Its chief landmarks are the two exquisite neoclassical buildings designed by Schiller, the Municipal Market and the Apollo Municipal Theatre.In the evenings the residents of this little town congregate in the flagstone paved main square lined by cafes and pastry shops. In the narrow alleyways, small tavernas and grills serve up local delicacies, savoury tidbits from Eleia’s fertile soil.

Ancient Olympia lies 10 km. east of Pirgos, in a valley between wooded Mt. Kronos, the Alfios river and its tributary, the Kladeos.¬†Eleia’s valleys
The soil is fertile here, the land blessed, the fields endless.
Every corner is cultivated with vines, olive groves, corn, wheat, vegetables.
Every place well tended, nothing wild.
It’s nice to fall asleep next to a threshing floor or on a sandy beach.
Zacharo is a market town enveloped in pines and olive trees bordered by an enormous stretch of beach with white sand and sparkling water.
Heading north you come to Kaiafas, a well known spa, and the islet of Agia Ekaterini, in the middle of a small harbour.
On the eastern shore, the famous mineral waters gush from two caves formed by crevices in the rocks.
The place is strangely beautiful, delightful, though the odor of the springs does detract somewhat.
Legend maintains that the centaur Nessus washed his wound here after being struck by Herakles’ poison arrow, and that is why the water smells. Kaiafas is not only sulphurous springs, however; It is also pine trees, sand and sea and a long, long shore.
It’s hard indeed to draw yourself away such a sea.

But to continue our tour, you pass the Alfeios and its renowned dam, and then arrive at medieval Katakolo, in the district of ancient Pheia (Fia).In the bay of Agios Andreas, atop a hill, are the remains of a fortress called Pontikokastro (mouse castle), built by the illehardouins.
Next the road proceeds to the village of Skafidia and the monastery of the same name. A Venetian tower, dating from 1686, stands inside the monastery garden.
Stop and eat fresh fish at one of the trim, newly painted taverns in the vicinity, where you can watch the sea for hours.

Chairs and tables shaded by trees or grape arbours await you.
Amaliada is the name of a new town, built in the middle of an emerald green field planted with olives and grapevines.

The monastery of Frankavilla, erected during the Frankish occupation, lies 2 km. away.Another monastery with echoes of the Franks is Agios Nikolaos of the Frankopidima. It took its name from the perilous leap (pidima) made by a desperate knight to escape his pursuers.
North of Amaliada the road branching to the right takes you to the ruins of Ancient Elis. Elis was where the athletes used to train before taking part in the Olympic Games.Excavations have brought to light a theatre, traces of the Gymnasion and two shrines to Aphrodite.
Continuing on, you come to the Pinios dam, one of the largest earth darns in Europe.
Returning to the main road, you pass Gastouni. The signpost indicates Andravida to the north and Kilini to the west.Kilini is connected by ferryboat with Zakinthos.
Six kilometres further north is where the Franks had their castle, the fortress of Hlemoutsi (Clairmont), the most beautiful and best preserved of all the castles in the Peloponnese. It was built by bin 1220.

A few kilometres beyond Hlemoutsi, are the hot springs of Kilini, a well known spa, developed by the G.N.T.O., with hotels, organized camping grounds and mineral waters. The waters bubble out at a temperature of 25.5 degrees Centigrade and are recommended for asthma, rheumatic and skin diseases.
The buildings are spread out among pine and eucalyptus trees.
A truly tranquil and pleasant spot, where the sun’s iridescent rays shine benignly and where the cicadas buzz nonstop.

This place is paradise for young and old, brimming with joy and health.
Leaving the spa and heading south, you reach Arkoudi, Glifa — with its fine sand — and Bouka, while towards the north lie Lehena and Manolada, noted for their watermelons and cheeses.
From Manolada the road, cutting through a thick pine forest that extends to the water’s edge, comes out at Kounoupeli, identified with ancient Yrmine, mentioned by Homer.
A rock juts out of the sea from which more mineral waters gush.

Above on the promontory you can make out traces Mycenaean and Frankish remains.
A little further, you can see a small tavern, where you can seat looking the sea, for hours.

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