A Guide to Methoni Castle

Methoni Castle is one of the biggest, best preserved, and most remarkable sites in Greece. And what’s amazing is that it’s off the beaten path! Not many are aware that an awe-inspiring, huge sea castle is waiting for them to explore in the Peloponnese.

If you love history or medieval castles, if you like immersing yourself in a land’s heritage and culture, then visiting Methoni Castle is a must. There are many things to see, so make sure you are properly prepared with ample time to explore without being in a hurry! Methoni Castle is an adventure, promising breathtaking views and beautiful memories.

Here is everything you need to know to make the most out of your visit to Methoni Castle:

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Visiting Methoni Castle

How to get to Methoni Castle

Methoni Castle in the Peloponnese

Methoni Castle is in the region of Messinia in the Peloponnese. It reigns over the seaside town of Methoni, from which it gets its name. Methoni is in southwest Peloponnese, in the first ‘finger’ of the Peloponnese from left to right. It’s right at the tip of the ‘finger’ and the best way to get there is by car.

If you’re looking for the closest airport to Methoni, that would be Kalamata Airport. From Kalamata, you can take the bus, taxi, or car to Methoni. By far the best option is to rent a car, to afford you the freedom to explore all the gorgeous towns around Methoni.

The best way to explore the area around Methoni Castle is by having your own car. I recommend booking a car through Discover Cars where you can compare all rental car agencies’ prices, and you can cancel or modify your booking for free. They also guarantee the best price. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

But if you’re not feeling like driving, the KTEL bus is also a viable alternative.

Visiting Methoni Castle in the Peloponnese

The drive from Kalamata to Methoni is roughly 1 ½ hours and it is very scenic. If you take the taxi, the fare will set you back around 80 euros, depending on the taxi service. If you go by bus, you want to take the KTEL Kalamatas or KTEL Messinias on the route Kalamata – Methoni. The ride is roughly 2 hours and the fare is around 6 euro, depending on your requirements.

A brief history of Methoni Castle

The castle of Methoni was built in 1209 AD by the Venetians who at the time were occupying the area and were seeking to fortify the towns from piracy and rivals seeking to overtake their territories.

Visiting Methoni Castle

Because Methoni was an important stop in their journeys to the Holy Lands during the Crusades, but also a highly strategic area for trade and control of the seaways, all rival forces were constantly seeking to own it, from the Byzantines to the Venetians to the Ottomans.

The Venetians were the ones that successfully controlled Methoni for the longest, thanks to the Methoni Castle which was considered unconquerable. And in truth, it never really fell to the Ottomans who took it over in 1499.

It was a mistake of the guards that allowed them inside, and the Ottomans just took it! The castle was never conquered even well into the modern era when it was besieged by the Russians in 1770 during the Orlov Revolt or by the Greeks during the Greek War of Independence.

It could only be relinquished, which is what happened when in 1828 its Ottoman guard gave it up after the treaty for the founding of the new state of Greece was signed, yielding the territory- and the castle- to the Greeks.

What to see in Methoni Castle

Methoni Castle is one of the largest ones in Europe, spanning the entire coast of the cape of Methoni. The sea laps against three of the castle sides, making it unreachable by sea. The fourth side which is on land is heavily fortified by a small acropolis.

Methoni Castle

The castle juts out into the sea, separated from land by a moat and connected to it by a wide, impressive stone bridge with 14 arches. This was built by the Venetians in the 1500s to replace the wooden one that had been in use since the castle’s construction in the 1200s. That’s the bridge you too will be crossing to get into the castle!

Methoni Castle in Greece

The majestic gateway doesn’t disappoint, with the coat of arms of Venice still in place at the crest- the Lion of St. Mark. Take note of the massive bastions Loredan and Bembo and you’ll know just from that why the castle was never conquered.

Go on to walk through the arched way into the castle proper, just like the castle defenders used to do, and wander the paved pathways to various (now derelict) Venetian mansions, the bathhouses of the Ottoman pashas, and what remains of the Byzantine church of Aghia Sophia. Make sure to find the iconic red granite pillar towards the center of the castle.

church at Methoni Castle

Then, make your way to the church of Metamorphosis Tou Sotiros (the Ascension of the Christ). Its bell tower is iconic, seemingly fused with the main building of the church. The style is a lot like the churches.

interior of church in Methoni Castle

It was originally a Catholic church, turned into a mosque, and is currently active as a Greek Orthodox church. Make sure to look at the two pillars on either side of the church entrance, which come from the ruined Byzantine church of Aghia Sophia. Inside you will see a beautiful iconostasis with gold decorations and a mix of Catholic and Orthodox styles of iconography.

A Guide to Methoni Castle in Greece

Lastly, make sure you follow the paved way through the restored Sea Gate to the fortified islet of Bourzi. Bourtzi is at the northern side of the castle and was built by the Venetians in the 1500s as an extra fortification from sea attacks. It is two-story and octagonal in shape.

During the Ottoman occupation, Bourtzi was used as a prison and a site of executions. There are local legends that Bourtzi is somewhat haunted: when the sea is rough and the wind strong, you can hear the yelling of those imprisoned there.

Practical information about Methoni Castle

Methoni Castle is open daily from 8:30 am to 8:00 pm. Admission is only 2 euro for the full ticket and 1 euro if you qualify for a discount. Keep in mind it’s closed on Tuesdays!

Exploring the Methoni Castle

There is also little shade, so make sure you wear a sunhat and light-colored clothes. Long sleeves of light, breathable fabric like linen or cotton will protect you from the sun! Don’t wear sandals, prefer shows that will protect your feet since the terrain isn’t smooth everywhere. Keep a water bottle on you and be generous with the sunblock!

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