Karytaina, Medieval Village in Arcadia Peloponnese Greece

The first nights of our road trip in the Peloponnese we spent in the Arcadian town of Megalopoli. After two days we decided we had seen enough of Megalopoli and we were longing for mountains, historical sites, nature, and traditional settlements to stroll around. That’s when we bumped into Karytaina, only twenty minutes away from Megalopoli, but a completely different world.

Map Arkadia Greece from Megalopolis to Karytaina.
Route Megalopoli to Karytaina in Arcadia, Peloponnese, Greece.

Are you planning a road trip in Greece? If you are interested in a road trip through the Peloponesse, we have made one, and you can read about it in our blogpost >> Road Trip Peloponnese.

The village of Karytaina in Arcadia, Peloponnese Greece. Near Megalopoli.
During our road trip in the Peloponnese in Greece, the medieval village of Karytaina was one of the highlights.
Beautiful Greek village of Karitena.
Old Greek house in the medieval village of Karytaina on the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece.
Road trip Peloponnese takes you to beautiful places.
House in Karytaina, below the castle.

Road Trip Peloponnese to Karytaina

The road that crosses the valley of Megalopoli is in perfect condition. The flat landscape is a little boring until suddenly an enormous rock appears in the distance.

Karytaina Castle Greece

As we come nearer we see the blue and white Greek flag waving at the top of the rock, and a Medieval castle gazes over the valley. Dozens of traditional houses and churches are scattered below the castle.

The Karytaina castle seen from the valley in Arcadia.
On top of the rock you can distinquish the castle of Karytaina.

The southern Peloponnese consists of three “legs”, of which the second one is called the Mani, which was until recently an isolated area, mainly accessible by sea. The Mani was known for its fierce family clans living in tower houses, and pirates. You can read more about our Mani Road Trip in the blogpost >> One Week in the Mysterious Mani.

Video with drone of the Castle of Karytaina.

Read the blogpost on the miraculous little church in Arcadia, called Agia Theodora Church located in Vasta. It’s only an hour drive from Karytaina.

Best Places in Peloponnese – Karytaina

The sudden beauty of this place is almost unreal. I understand we discovered another hidden gem in the Peloponnese and we can’t wait to drive up the rock to explore the village. 

Before we can ascend the rock we have to pass a bridge over the Alfeios River. Next, we are at the foot of the rock and we drive up the winding streets, along churches, a school, and traditional stone Arcadian houses, amidst lush green vegetation. It’s surprisingly green compared to many other regions of Greece in the summer, even though the temperature is equally high.

The greek village of Karytaina is built on a rock.
Karytaina is located not far from Megalopoli in the region of Arcadia in the Peloponnese.

Traditional Greek Village in Arcadia

Just below the spot where the path to the castle starts, there is a small parking lot where we leave the car. It’s around noon and very quiet in the village. Except for the sound of some church bells, the tinkling bells of a herd of goats or sheep in the distance, the buzzing of cicadae, and the whispering voices of a few elderly ladies sitting on a bench in the shade of a tree in front of a mansion, we hear absolutely nothing.

I should have brought a better camera, is my first thought when I look around me. The views over the valley of Megalopoli and the mountains of Arcadia are absolutely magnificent, so is the architecture of the village.

Greek church of Karytaina with local women chatting on a bench.
Greek women chatting to each other on a bench in front of the church in Karytaina.

Are you planning a road trip in Greece? If you are interested in a road trip through the Peloponesse, we have made one, and you can read about it in our blogpost >> Road Trip Peloponnese.

For families with kids visiting Athens we created the blog post 50 Things to do in Athens with Kids with many inspiring and relaxing activities.

We follow the narrow cobble-stoned alleys to the most idyllic corners of the village where we see beautiful Byzantine churches, chapels, towers, the small stone decayed houses, impressive mansions, and many flowers and plants. The village is full of surprises. We stroll around for at least an hour until we are back at the area below the castle.

Walking up and down in the village with so many height levels in the scorching heat makes thirsty and a little tired. Along the main road, we find a café that’s open. It’s built within a cave and looks very attractive inside. The cold air of the air conditioning hits us when we go inside, and it’s mostly youth playing board games and talking. They are too young to participate in the Greek siesta. We take a seat outside, in the shade of some umbrellas and start a conversation with the waiter about the village of Karytaina.

Arcadia Peloponnese Greece Karytaina
The main street of the Medieval village of Karytaina in Arcadia Greece, Peloponnese.

When in Arcadia, don’t miss out of the spectacular Philosophos Monastery (blogpost), which during Turkish occupation housed a secret school.

The beautiful main church of Karytaina in the center of the village.
Church entrance in Karytaina.

It turns out to be a medieval town and not much is known about its history before the rule of the Franks. The Frenchman and baron Geoffroy de Briel had the castle built here on top of the village in 1245, at an altitude of 600 m.

It is certain that other, even ancient, towns existed at the place of modern Karytaina, excavations in the future will show this. As you probably know, all of Greece is one big archaeological site and they cannot excavate all of Greece at once.

Castle of Karytaina.
The highest point of Karytaina, at the other side is the castle of Karytaina located.

Greek Monuments everywhere

The same problem applies to restoration of the Greek monuments. There are just too many. The castle urgently needs to be restored, some areas are absolutely too dangerous to enter. Some walls can collapse at any moment. That’s what we hear from the waiter and we decide to get up there to see the castle for ourselves.

Things to take on a Hike in Greece

We take a short hike along the rocky path that leads to the castle. It’s quite a climb and it reminds us that, again, we don’t wear appropriate shoes. Besides, we forgot to take some water with us.

Daily life in Karytaina.
Arcadia castle on top of the hill of the village of Karitena.
Sunset in the medieval village of Karytaina Greece.
Daily life in Karytaina.

One of the best hiking trails in Europe, the Menalon Trail is located near Karytaina! Along this hiking trail you will find the spectacular Philosophos Monastery, which during Turkish occupation housed a secret school.

Read the blogpost on the miraculous little church in Arcadia, called Agia Theodora Church located in Vasta. It’s only an hour drive from Karytaina.

Whenever you go for a walk in Greece it’s always better to be prepared and wear a pair of hiking shoes because they have a good grip and will prevent you from slipping. After so many years traveling through Greece, we are well aware of this, and all of us carry a pair of hiking shoes. We just didn’t think they would be necessary and left them in the car.

It’s also a good idea to wear sun protection like a cap, sunglasses, and a sunblock. When we take longer hikes we always carry a backpack with a travel health kit which should include, for instance, a Betadine solution, hydrogen peroxide, pain and fever medications, band-aids, something for treating insect bites, etc. You can Google this. When making a road trip it’s a good idea to have a travel health kit in your car, but I am sure you thought about that! Another useful tool is a whistle. Just in case you get lost, it will help your company to locate you. Of course, you shouldn’t forget to take a map or GPS.

Tower in Karytaina on top of hill.
The highest point of Karytaina with the Greek flag.

Are you planning a road trip in Greece? If you are interested in a road trip through the Peloponesse, we have made one, and you can read about it in our blogpost >> Road Trip Peloponnese.

Magnificent view over the valley of Megalopolis in Arcadia Greece from a cafe in Karytaina.

Battle of Karytaina

Along the path to the castle, you will find a little church and opposite the ruins of the house of the important leader of the resistance of Greece against the Turks, Kolokotronis. In 1821, during the Battle of Karytaina, Kolokotronis and his men succeeded to liberate the castle from the Turks. The castle became his base and he built his house just below the castle.

Karytaina was of extreme strategic importance because the location of the village at great height allowed controlling the surrounding area and roads of Arcadia from above. Many times enemies tried to conquer Karytaina, and it has been under the rule of the Franks, the Byzantines, the Turks, and the Venetians.

Ancient Megalopolis is an ancient Greek historical site with important ruins, not far from Karytaina. In Ancient Greece this was a very important city. Read more in the blogpost about Ancient Megalopolis.

Statues and view on a tower of the castle in Karytaina.

Turkish-Egyptian Troops in Karytaina

In 1826, Turkish-Egyptian troops that had invaded the Peloponnese tried to conquer the castle, but Kolokotronis fortified the castle and defeated the Egyptians.

Bridge with small Church underneath

Another interesting construction is a bridge that is hidden under the bridge you pass along the road from Megalopolis to Karytaina. It is one of the most extraordinary bridges of Greece I have seen because a small church is built at its foot, between the five arches of the fifty meters long bridge. In the 13th century, it was built by the Franks and it is depicted on the last 5000 drachma banknote that circulated before the euro was introduced in Greece. We didn’t find the way to the old bridge at once, but we discovered next to the modern bridge a sandy path with signs that got us there.

Kayaking and rafting on Lousios River in Peloponnese.
The Lousios River is a popular river in Greece for kayaking.

The southern Peloponnese consists of three “legs”, of which the second one is called the Mani, which was until recently an isolated area, mainly accessible by sea. The Mani was known for its fierce family clans living in tower houses, and pirates. You can read more about our Mani Road Trip in the blogpost >> One Week in the Mysterious Mani.

Alfaios River in Arcadia.
The rough waters of the Lousios River.

Kayaking in Greece on Lousios River

The Lousios River that empties into the Alfeios River approximately 2.5 km outside of Karytaina, stretches from Karytaina to Dimitsana and has a length of 15 km. It’s a treacherous and wild river ideal for kayaking.

According to mythology, the nymphs washed the Olympian God Zeus in the Lousios River when he was born, while the Greek traveler and writer Pausanias in the 2nd century states that it is the coldest river of Greece.

Bridge close to Karytaina in Arcadia, Peloponnese.
One of the traditional bridges that run across the Lousios River and Alfeios River.

We took a short walk in the forested area along the Lousios River and admired the kayakers on the pretty wild, but crystal clear blue waters of the river, struggling to avoid the huge boulders. The water, by the way, is incredibly cold as we found out by trying to walk in it. It was unbearable and we couldn’t stay in for longer than a few seconds.

A girl just took a bath in the ice cold Lousios River nearby Karytaina.

We stayed the night in the Elafos Spa Hotel in the nearby village of Elliniko, about 5km away because we couldn’t find accommodation in Karytaina.

Are you planning a road trip in Greece? If you are interested in a road trip through the Peloponesse, we have made one, and you can read about it in our blogpost >> Road Trip Peloponnese.

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