Greece is well-known for its beaches and cosmopolitan islands; unfortunately, not enough people, apart from the locals, realize the country's potential as a mountainous destination. In our trips we will attempt to familiarize you with some of the most beautiful mountains of Greece, and introduce you to their history and natural wealth.
One such destination is the town of Kalavrita.
Less than three hours from the capital, on the northern part of Peloponnese, this small town is rich in history and located on a spot of profound natural beauty.
Kalavrita occupies a central position in Greek history. It was in the nearby monastery of Hagia Lavra that the first Flag of Freedom was raised by the Bishop of Patras in 1821, calling all Greeks to rebel against the Ottoman Empire. The Monastery was burned down three times in its long history; twice by the Ottomans during the Greek Revolution and once by the German occupation forces, who executed the monks who failed to escape.
The latter were particularly harsh to the people of Kalavrita. Stunned by the severity of the resistance they met there, the frustrated Nazi official, after burning out the nearby villages, assembled every male resident in a nearby field and executed them in what is one of the darkest days painfully etched in Greek memory. Today on this very field lies a stone monument to commemorate the Tragedy of Kalavrita. A series of white stones on the ground spell out the words "Peace" and "No More Wars" calling  all visitors to their haunting message of peace.
You can reach Kalavrita by car or immerse yourself in the surrounding nature by taking the Odontotos (roughly translated as tooth-train), a rack railway train that climbs up the mountain at 22km an hour, in a spectacular journey, following the stream bed of the Vouriakos river through a narrow gorge up the mountains, through tunnels, over waterfalls, along cliffs and through forests of pine and oleander.
Another true wonder of the area is the Cave of the Lakes. The surroundings inside the cave look like the setting of a science fiction movie with the cave walls ornamented by colourful stalagmite and stalactite formations and other structures hanging from the ceiling like delicate chandeliers reflected on the waters underneath. Here you can walk on a metal walkway following the maze of cascading lakes and subterranean passageways or take a boat and explore the lakes from the water level within the cave.
Caves are not uncommon in the rocky area, in fact, two Orthodox monks from the North built, in 326AD, the Monastery of Mega Spileon inside a huge cave searching for serene spirituality confined in its depth. The Monastery is full of wonderful frescoes, mosaic floors and other treasures, including a priceless Gospel donated by Catherine the Great.
If you are a lover of winter sports you should give the nearby ski center of Helmos a try. Here you ski at a state-of-the-art ski park with 12 slopes and special snowboard and snow tube parks, for a fraction of the cost compared to other European destinations.
If skiing isn't your thing then enjoy the countless activities offered in the region including hiking along the European Path E4, mountaineering on Mt Helmos, climbing, mountain biking and even paragliding down the slopes.