Kastanitsa is arguably the prettiest village in the Tsakonia region of Mount Parnonas, and among the most beautiful in Greece as a whole. You can see it twinkling among the chestnut trees as you make your way up the mountain from Aghios Andreas, the pristine whiteness of its homes testament to the expert job done by its residents, who are renowned for their skill as white-washers. The village is laid out in a labyrinth of houses and small streets on a slope. All the homes are built of stone and whitened with lye, and the roofs are shingled with the ash-green slate of Parnonas. Most are graced with porticoes and archways, as well as courtyards resplendent with blooms, giving the entire village an air of romance, as if plucked from a fairy-tale. Many of the homes are tower-shaped and were built by stonemasons from Langadas more than 300 years ago.

Enjoy a walk in the streets around the central square and as you discover yet another mythic spot for a holiday snap, make your way to the village’s biggest church, Metamorfosi tou Sotiros (Transfiguration of the Saviour), which dates to 1780. According to local historians, its beautiful wooden screen was made in Russia and was gi•ed by Catherine the Great to a wealthy man in Odessa who came from Kastanitsa. The tower that stands atop a large rock at the southern end of the village is the Kapsabeli Tower and it affords a wonderful view of the surrounding forests. Locals say that the women and children would hide here during raids by the Ottoman Turks. The main square of Kastanitsa is small but very pretty, the locals, though few in number, are very welcoming and there are plenty of picturesque spots to take memorable holiday photos. This may very well be one of Arcadia’s most photogenic villages.

Before you leave Kastanitsa, don’t forget to buy a jar of, what else, preserved chestnuts, which grow in abundance here. If you’re in no rush to get to your next destination, take the scenic route through the fir forest of Parnonas to the village of Polydroso (once known as Tsintzina).

2016-03-11T19:14:49+00:00