The rarely visited abandoned Byzantine town of Geraki is simply phenomenal. It’s less exausting to explore than its more famous and larger sibling, Mystra, but the beauty and tranquility simply takes your breath away. Like Mystra, it is set on a hill with a castle at the top and you can see for miles in all directions. We tried to visit the site in 2017 when the gates were firmly closed but thankfully it was open when we visited in the summer of 2019.
Despite the fact that the site is so important and has only been open to the public for a short time it’s strange that there is no proper car park here, it’s as if they do not want many tourists, which was OK by us as we were the only visitors and had the place to ourselves which made our visit even more personal and special.
We were greeted at the visitor centre by the only member of staff who invited us to watch a short documentary on Geraki which was interesting and we were also given a free information booklet. Then we were invited on a personal tour of the site which was a bit of a surprise, especially as there is no entry fee. Our guide, armed with a staff to ward off snakes had the keys to the three churches that the public are permitted to enter, there are in fact five more!
There are information boards by each of the buidings that have been renovated or excavated which was helpful.
The first church the guide took us to was the 13th Century Agia Paraskevi which had frescos dating from the late 15th century.
Zoodochos Pigi Church contained some stunning wall paintings, again from the 15th Century.
Following the path upwards we passed many renovated dwellings before entering the castle through an impressive arch in the wall.
Within the Castle walls is the Church of Agios Georgios which, although plain on the oustide is also blessed with wall paintings from the 14th Century.
The Castle itself was built in the mid 13th Century and the scale of the towers, cistern and walls are impressive. We were left to wander around on our own as our guide returned to the visitor centre. It goes without saying that the views are breathtaking.