The 7 best things to do in Kalavrita

John Karkalatos17 March 2022

1. Site of Execution

Site of execution in Kalavrita

No other place in Greece has associated its name with the Nazi atrocities as much as Kalavrita.

The operations of the guerrillas in Helmos mountain at the end of 1943 brought to the area the 117th Jäger Division under the command of the fanatical Nazi Carl von Le Suire in order to suppress it. The operation started from the coast of Achaia in order to end up in Kalavrita expelling all the guerrilla groups. However the execution of 77 German soldiers by the group ELAS changed the course of operations turning them into liquidations and terrorism of civilians. In Kalavrita it took the most brutal form. During the "Operation Kalavrita", as it was named on 13 December 1943, all the male residents over the age of 13 were gathered at the hill of Kapi where they were executed with machine guns. The choice of the hill was not accidental since it supervises Kalavrita which at that time was burning to the ground and the executed civilians had this as the last image before they passed away.

Today there is a large cross on the hill and the names of the fallen are engraved on the columns to remind that there was once a place of martyrdom.

2. Kalavrita Holocaust Museum

This was the Primary school of Kalavrita in the courtyard of which the male population was separated from the women, children and the elderly. During the execution they were kept locked up there, but fortunately, before this building was also set on fire, they managed to escape. In the museum you will see details of the "Operation Kalavrita" through many exhibits and audiovisual material. It has also been formed as a place of remembrance for the fallen at the hill of Kapi.

3. Pedestrian street March 25th

Pedestrian street March 25th

It is the favourite hangout of tourists and locals in Kalavrita with many trees, tourist shops, cafes and taverns.

The paved street has been made like train rails while the central square dominates with the church of the Assumption of the Virgin with the clock in the left bell tower having stopped at the time of the Holocaust 2:34 pm.

The most notable thing are the shops that sell traditional products of Kalavrita and Helmos mountain: pastries, cheeses, sausages, pasta, nuts, chestnuts, mountain tea, herbs and honey. The most well-known is Ermeidis confectionery. The pedestrian street starts at the Holocaust Museum just above the Odontotos rack railway.

4. Odontotos rack railway

Odontotos rack railway station in Kalavrita

This nature-loving route is a must in itself regardless whether you visit Kalavrita or not. A construction since the end of the 19th century that harmonizes perfectly with the natural environment it is as if nature and man made it together.

Tunnels and bridges made of wood and stone follow a serpentine path in the gorge of Vouraikos river passing through dense vegetation with impressive cliffs crossed by rushing waters that form waterfalls. The railway got its name from the teeth used on the rails in a part of the route so that it can safely climb the steep slopes of the mountain. It starts from Diakopto on the coast of Achaia and ends in Kalavrita. Its length is 22.35 km.

5. Great Cave Monastery

Great Cave Monastery

It was built in 362 AD by the Thessalonian monk brothers Symeon and Theodoros who went to the cave to find the icon of Virgin Mary made of mastic and candle crafted by Evangelist Lukas. The view is rather impressive with the vertical cliffs while it has been burned to the ground several times in the past, for this the building that exists today is new. The last time it was set on fire was in 1943 by the Germans and the monks who did not escape were executed.

You can see the miraculous icon of Panagia Megalospilaiotissa and many relics that have been saved from the destructions.

In order to do all the activities on the list and to visit the ski resort you need to spend 3 days

6. Agia Lavra monastery

Another historic monastery, this time the one that raised the Flag of the Revolution of 1821 is located in Kalavrita, it is the most important monastery of Peloponnese. It was founded by a monk of Agios Athanasios of Athonitis, the monk Eugenios in 961 AD. It has been destroyed many times in the past, in 1585, 1826, 1844 and 1943 by the Germans where the monks were also executed. Fortunately, many of the relics have been saved with the Flag of the Revolution standing out among many other important and remarkable ones.

7. Cave of the Lakes

Cave of the Lakes

As its name suggests there are successive lakes separated from each other by the cave material, crossed by wooden bridges that have been built to constitute the cave accessible. Along with the beautiful stalactites that often look like ancient tunics it is considered one of the most beautiful caves in Greece.

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