Central Food Market
also find tasty products such as sfela cheese (a semi-hard cheese made from sheep or cow milk), pasteli, honey, lalagia, a type of fried dough crackers, and Poliani apples.
Undeniably, the annual event that put Kalamata on the map is the Kalamata International Dance Festival, which launched in 1995. The festival, which takes place every summer with the mission to support and promote the beautiful art of dance, showcases the creativity of choreographers and dance troupes and welcomes visitors to this underrated region of Peloponnese.
Just like many other cities in Greece, Kalamata boasts a stunning historic quarter, where you will love wandering along narrow alleys and among neoclassical mansions and cute forsaken corners. Located in the northern part of the city, just below the castle, Kalamata Old Town is home to several must-see churches, including the Byzantine church of the Holy Apostles and the cathedral of Ypapantis, a few museums, and a plethora of little shops selling local products and original souvenirs.
The cathedral of Ypapantis, built in 1839, is a stunning Byzantine-style church that is home to a holy icon of the Virgin Mary of the same name, which dates back to 672 AD. It was discovered in the Ottoman governor’s stables after he had a dream of a woman telling him to dig in a specific spot. He even converted to Christianity after the discovery, due to the numerous miracles that it had supposedly performed. Severely damaged by the 1886 and 1986 earthquakes, the church, which sits on a square bearing the same name, was restored both times.
Set in the historical heart of Kalamata, where the old market used to stand, the Archaeological Museum of Messenia is home to an extensive collection of archaeological finds dating back from prehistoric times to the Byzantine era. It is divided into four geographical areas, which represent the four provinces of Messenia, including Kalamata, Messene, Pylia, and Trifylia. Exhibits include the splendid mosaic from Koroni, which depicts various scenes of the worship of the god Bacchus.
Dominating the city, the Castle of Kalamata (or kastro) sits on a lush pine-covered hill. Geoffroi de Villehardouin, a Frank knight who conquered Achaea, constructed the structure in 1208. It boasts an impressive gate, and though dating from the 13th century, it miraculously survived the 1986 earthquake, responsible for the destruction of a major part of the city. A little haven of peace and serenity, the kastro is the best place to enjoy the sunset from a beautiful vantage point.
Castle of Kalamata, Spartis 28, Kalamata, Greece, +30 2721 083086
As the capital of the Messenia region, Kalamata is an ideal base from which to explore the area. With spectacular beaches, four- and five-star resorts, historic treasures such as old castles and ancient cities (the ancient city of Messene is nearby), and archaeological sites, Messenia certainly deserves a visit. Whether you are there for three days, a week or even 10 days, you will quickly understand that there is so much more to Kalamata than just a little provincial city.