If the name ‘Kalamata’ sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone — it’s a city in southern Greece from which Greek olives get their name. It is both the capitol of the region of Messinia and the second-largest city in the Peloponnese. With its preserved Old Town and a number of museums and galleries, the city maintains its rich cultural history. The ancient Greek author Homer described a city called Pharai, which is believed to have been where the Kalamata Castle stands today.
The name Kalamata is derived from an icon of the Virgin Mary known as the ‘good eye’ (kalo mata.) The icon was believed to be miracle-working, and today can be found in the inside the city’s cathedral, the Church of Ypapantis. Throughout the ages, Kalamata has suffered wars at the hands of the Ottoman Empire and earthquakes in as recent as 1986, though today it flourishes as an important port city.
Kalamata is roughly a two hour drive from Athens. Once in the city, it is pedestrian friendly — though there are also bicycle and bus routes in town.