Paralio Astros

Paralio Astros lies on the western shore of the Argolic Gulf, with views to the east across the Gulf to Nafplio and the island of Spetses.  To the south is the open sea and the capes of Tsakonia.  Inland, the area is dominated by the unmistakable silhouettes of the Parnonas range of mountains and by Mount Parnonas itself.


The village is located on and around an island-like hill known locally as the Island ("Nisi"), which is crowned by the remains of a Venetian castle.  Beaches of pebbly sand stretch north and south for miles and miles. The sea here is warm, and the water very clear.



This attractive old village, with its large fishing harbour, is the traditional seaside resort for the mainly land-locked prefecture of Arcadia.  Many people from Tripoli and Athens have summer houses or apartments here. The village has a number of pensions and small hotels, numerous rooms and apartments for renting, as well as two campsites. There is a wide choice of taverns and restaurants, some of which are only open in the Summer season.  In addition, there are traditional coffee shops and  many cafes and bars along the shore.


In addition to a number of bakers, cake shops, greengrocers, butchers, fishmongers, mini-markets and other shops, the village boasts a post office (with currency exchange facilities in season), a pharmacy, tourist and port police stations, a bus agency, a taxi-rank, many public card-phones, and a doctor. Other facilities can be found in Astros, a few kilometres away.


On the headland above the port there is a small amphitheatre. Behind the village lies a wide plain of olive groves, and in the foothills of the Parnonas mountains, beyond this plain, there are numerous well-known monasteries, Byzantine churches, and archaeological sites from pre-historic up to Roman-Hellenic times. On the south-facing slopes below the Venetian castle is a site of special botanical interest, and the peninsula itself is the site of an ancient Greek city. There is an area of marshland and lakes in the plain to the south of the village, and this, together with the whole Parnonas upland area, has recently been declared a National Ecological Park. 


The castle


The hill known as the island ("Nisi") was inhabited in the Middle Ages; there is evidence of settlement from the Mycenaean period. The castle on the top of the hill was built by the Venetians in AD 1256, to whom it was known as Castella della Estella or The Castle of the Star, presumably because of the star-shaped peninsula below it to the north-east. Little is known about the detailed history of the site until the early 19th century when the castle played a key role in the Greek War of Independence. 

Three local brothers from the Zafiropoulos family, merchants in Greek Asia Minor, returned to the Peloponnese to fight for liberation from the Turkish Empire. They built houses within the ancient walls of the castle, and successfully held the castle against the Turks. The ruins of these houses are still visible today.



To the north-east, below the castle, is the site of the ancient walls dating from 427 B.C and built by the citizens of the island of Aegina.



In the Peloponnesian Wars (546 BC) there was a battle on the south bank of the River Tanos (just north of Paralio Astros) between the Spartans and the Argeans (the people of Argos), for control of the rich cultivated plain of Thirea.



The amphitheatre



In the summer months there are many performances of plays, recitals etc in the amphitheatre, mainly in modern Greek. The acoustics are particularly fine.



Above the amphitheatre there is an interesting old building, which from the 1890s to 2002 served as a lighthouse for local shipping.  Today the lighthouse is located at the top of the hill.



Close to this old lighthouse, among the pines, there is a small chapel dedicated to the Prophet Elijah (Profitis Elias). The local district council (North Kynouria or Boreia Kynouria) has recently established a small park here, with picnic benches. The view from here across the Gulf is spectacular.



In the cliffs below this chapel is a cave, visible only from the sea, which is thought to have been used in the War of Independence to supply the defenders of the castle with food and ammunition.