Town of Neapolis
Neapoli, a seaside paradise
At the southern-most tip of mainland Greece, 115 kilometres from Sparta, Neapoli has a year-round appeal. A walk along the waterfront is enough to put your finger on the pulse of this seaside town. It is here where roads and whitewashed lanes branch out through the town, leading to flower-filled courtyards, well-preserved stone houses and churches. It is here that groups of friends meet to enjoy ouzo with mezedhes, where the open sea meets the lower slopes of the surrounding hillsides and villages.
The site on which Neapoli, or Vies, now stands had its heyday in antiquity during the Roman period when it belonged to the Free Laconian League. The name Vatika (a derivation of Vies) was given to the surrounding area, appearing in Venetian documents of the 15th century. Construction of the modern town, to a plan for a regional capital by the Bavarian architect Birmach began in 1837. Today it boasts excellent infrastructure for tourism, providing visitors with a wide choice of accommodation, transport, links to nearby islands, a network of hiking trails, restaurants, ouzeri, cafes and bars.
Neapoli is a destination in itself. Swimming in its crystal clear sea, exploring its quiet lanes, its neighbouring villages, discovering unspoiled, idyllic routes and sites, time-travelling through legends and traditions, viewing natural and historic monuments, enjoying local food (such as tsaitia with goatʼs cheese and mint, pumpkin pie, local cheeses, sweets such as samousadhes, diples and kourabiedhes), fine wines (Petroulianos, Thrapsa, Kydonitsa), freshly caught fish and other seafood. Not to mention encounters with its hospitable people - most of them seafarers.
Stand by the landmark statue of the Vatika seaman (by the sculptor Vangelis Moustakas) or up the hill outside the church of the Holy Trinity (Aghia Triada) in the centre of the town and youʼll see that Neapoli is an ideal base for excursions to the wild landscape of Cape Maleas and its restored lighthouse, the chapels and hermitages of Little Mt. Athos, the petrified forest, the ancient sunken city at Pavlopetri, the three-million year old cave at Kastania, magical Paradisi, the Stronyli lagood wetland, the fortress at Aghia Paraskevi with is incomparable view, the island of Elafonisos with its exotic beaches, the magical island of Kythera, the unique medieval fortress town of Monemvasia and so many other sights waiting to be discovered. It is well worth taking time to discover Vatika, to explore it, experience it, and wonder at it.