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Kyparissia: A story full of charm

Looking for the roots, we find the first references to Cyparissia in the verses of Homer. Even the great traveler and geographer of antiquity Pausanias passed through Kyparissiendas and made references, among other things, to the Dionysiada spring (today’s Ai Lagoudi), on the town’s beach.

The history of Kyparissia is very long and goes hand in hand with that of the Peloponnese. Its beginnings are lost in the depths of prehistory. During the Homeric years, Cyparissia was called “Kyparissientas” and belonged to the kingdom of Pylos, of King Nestor. Later the area was enslaved to Ancient Sparta along with the rest of Ancient Messinia. Many were interested in the strategic position of the city over the centuries: a castle was built on the site of the ancient Acropolis during the Byzantine years, then Franks and Turkish conquerors rebuilt the fortress making the necessary additions giving it its current form. During the Turkish rule, Arkadia, as Kyparissia was called in the Middle Ages, had a privileged position as the commercial center of the region. Its current name is due to Othon. In Kyparissia, tombs from the Classical and Roman eras were discovered, while at the top of Mount Psychro, its Frankish Castle is preserved today.

According to some, Kyparissia owes its name to the many cypress trees that surrounded it like forests at the dawn of its history, and according to others to Kyparissos. This was Minya’s son.

The myth always wants Cyparissus, a good hunter and friend of the god of music and light, Apollo. Once in his hunting, he killed a deer. And from then on, he was depressed. Before he died, the gods took pity on him and heard his pleas. They made him a cypress. And there were many cypress trees at that time in Kyparissia, that is, in the city where the god – friend of Cyparissus, Apollo was worshipped.

In Cyparissia, apart from Apollo, the goddess of wisdom, Athena, was worshiped at that time. Athena, worshiped in Kyparissia, also had the name “Kyparissos” or “Kyparissia” Athena, whose temple was located on the site of the current church of the Holy Trinity (it is said that the Holy Altar of the Holy Temple rests on the remains of a pillar of ancient). And the temple of Apollo must have been where the ancient church of the horseman St. George is today, near the entrance to the railway station. The god Dionysus was also worshipped.

“Kyparissientas” belonged to the kingdom of Pylos, of King Nestor. In fact, Cyparissientas participated in the Trojan War by sending 11 ships, under the command of Nestor, according to Homer. Later the region of Cyparissienta was enslaved to the Spartans along with the rest of Messinia. Kyparissiendas was a culturally, economically and commercially thriving city. In fact, in 199 BC he also minted his own coin.

An entire civilization came to light, ruins of a large mansion of the late Roman era. The building infrastructure includes baths and plumbing facilities which belong to three consecutive building phases, starting from the 1st century BC. and last until the beginning of the 5th century. The archaeological site includes the mansion and complex of houses that belonged to the building fabric of the ancient Kyparissiendas, which developed around the ancient market, with the port as a focal point. The findings include parts of vases and decorated lamps, copper coins, etc. In addition, part of the ancient coastal settlement was discovered in the coastal zone, the habitation of which began from the late Hellenistic times (2nd century BC) and continued until the late Roman era (4th century). The findings include hooks and needles for sewing the nets, an indication that the main occupation of the inhabitants of the settlement was fishing, as well as plenty of ceramics, coins and other objects of the daily life of the inhabitants of ancient Kyparissienda.


During the Byzantine era, the Castle of Arcadia, also known as the Castle of the Giants or the Castle of Arcadia, was built on the site of the ancient Acropolis of Kyparissienda. In fact, one of the towers of this castle became known as “Justinian’s tower”. During this period, however, Kyparissia, like Patra and other cities and smaller settlements of the western Peloponnese, show a population decrease. According to the historian Anna Avramea in her study “The Early Christian and Proto-Byzantine Peloponnese”, comparing the settlements mentioned in the “Tabula Peutingeriana”, of the 4th century, with those included in the list of the “Synecdemus” of Hierocleus, of the 6th century, it is found that ” that the central and western part of the Peloponnese becomes progressively weaker, i.e. most of the small settlements disappear from these parts, while on the contrary the eastern part is strengthened.