Ano Kastania, Kato Kastania
Combining a mountain ambience with sea views, these villages are on the northern side of Vatika on slopes facing the Myrtoon Sea. Traditional houses with tiled roofs, clear springs, cobbled lanes, old plane trees, scattered chapels form a landscape for nature lovers, populated by friendly people.
The villages were built up in the hills due to the rampant piracy in these waters both before and during the Turkish occupation that decimated coastal settlements. In and around Ano Kastania, ruined houses and Byzantine chapels such as Aghios Vasileios bear witness to the older settlements that pre-date the current village.
Legends referred to by the writer Andreas Karkavitsas are associated with Kato Kastania in a bygone settlement called Mega Hora, involving gifts from a princess, golden weaving looms and 70 churches, of which only Aghios Ioannis (12th century) remains.
Take the road through Paradisi to these two lovely villages, and continue downhill to the beaches of Panaghia and Varko, or go six kilometres further on to the little peninsula of Kamili, ancient Epidilion, or the cave of Aghios Andreas (3.2 km from Kastania). An alternative route (4.8 km) back to Neapoli is via Ano Kastania. At its highest point on the watershed, just before Faraklo, is the most spectacular view in Vatika.