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I have been living in Greece for more than five years now, but I have to admit that I haven’t seen much of the country. Like many others, I travel abroad more frequently than within the country.
Therefore I’ve made it my mission to explore the culture, sights, and history of this European country more. This past June, for instance, I made my way to Kalamata.
While you may not have heard of this coastal town, it holds an essential place in Greek history. Located in the southern part of the country, Kalamata was one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean and still plays a critical role in the nation’s export of olives and olive oil.
But above all, the beaches in the area are some of the most beautiful in Greece. Kalamata has its own little pebble beach, but for more spectacular views you don’t have to drive very far. However, make sure you rent a car to be able to get to them. Kalamata is well worth a trip even if only to go to the beach.
But while my main reason to go here was to relax on beautiful beaches, today I want to talk about the churches in Kalamata. Because they are a major aspect of the cityscape and popular sights.
Kalamata gained importance during Byzantine times, which is when Saint Apostles Church was built. It is of historical significance because the revolution against the Ottoman Empire started here. The Temple of the Visitation of the Savior was built much later, in the 19th century, but is just as impressive. I didn’t enter any of the churches but simply admired them from the outside.
The History of Christianity in Greece
As I said, the Saint Apostles Church was built in 1317 during the Byzantine Empire. However, Greece actually became Christian much earlier and was, in fact, the first Christian region in Europe.
But the biggest impact that Greek Orthodoxy had was during the Byzantine Empire from 395 to 1453.
Christianity became the state religion during this time, and the Empire persecuted followers of other religions.
The Greek Orthodox Church continued to be very powerful during the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire where Greeks were defined by their religion and the patriarch was the head of all Greeks.
The Church later played an important role in the Greek War of Independence which is why most Greeks still identify as Orthodox. As a result, there are beautiful churches in Kalamata and all over the country.
Are churches the only thing to see in Kalamata?
Of course not! If you’re not interested in religious architecture, Kalamata is home to some interesting museums. For instance, you can visit the Kalamata Castle, the Benakeion Archaeological Museum of Kalamata, or the Railway Museum of the Municipality of Kalamata.
Plus you can enjoy some of the local food. And while I dislike olives, I understand that many people really love the local black Kalamata olives.
There are several restaurants in Kalamata that serve olive dishes, and they use lots of local olive oil. For instance, we had dinner at a mezedopoleio (Meze restaurant) called Thiasos one night with some very tasty options.
But of course, I will make a separate post detailing the vegan dishes I tried in Kalamata.
Have you ever been to this part of Greece?
For more posts on my life as an expat in Greece check out the following posts: