The old Sparta-Kalamata highway: One of the most beautiful routes in Greece

The old Sparta-Kalamata highway: One of the most beautiful routes in Greece

“The Sparta-Kalamata highway was originally constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers of the 9th Division and was inaugurated on March 25, 1949,” as is written on a marble tablet, mounted inside the small church of Panaghitsa. The old Sparta-Kalamata highway, which joins the regional units of Laconia and Messinia in the southern Peloponnese, is famous mainly for its natural beauty, narrow passes, sharp bends, and frequent landslides, as is the case with all mountain roads.

However, lovers of mountain routes, especially motorcyclists, enjoy traveling on this road and characterize it as one of the most beautiful routes in Greece. And so it is. It’s no coincidence that the 142km-long “Immortals’ Race” passes through here, as well as the “Taygetus Climb” cycling race.

The landscape is particularly dramatic after Cave Kaeadas and up to the twentieth kilometer of the route, as the road passes over deep ravines dotted with caves, and under imposing steep slopes. The winding road traverses a landscape covered in lush vegetation and through impressive tunnels, which are carved into the rock. This is the area of Lagada, which is located at an altitude of 800m and is well known to climbing enthusiasts. From 1999 until today, more than 120 trails have been created, spanning all degrees of difficulty and divided into five fields.

The creation of climbing trails on the impressive rocks of Mount Taygetus continues, as do the road maintenance works – a 150-meter section at Artemisia remains closed for repairs.

The closest village to this special location is Trypi, renowned for its countless springs. Locals and passers-by come here for the tavernas and for the famous natural pools at the source of River Knakionas. Icy running waters, streams and natural pools create an idyllic setting for diving, while the well-preserved Byzantine fortified town of Mystras is very close by.

This article first appeared in Greece Is (, a Kathimerini publishing initiative.

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