In this blog, most of the visitors come to read my various mountaineering, climbing and hiking activities in the mountains of Greece, but this time, I will post something a bit different. Greece is mostly famous for the history, mythology and of course for the splendid seaside and the blue waters. This post is dedicated to the southmost hike one can do in Greece, hiking to Cape Tainaron (Tenaro).
Cape Tainaron separates the eastern Laconian Gulf from the Messenian Gulf in the west. It is believed that it took its name from the mythical son of Zeus, Taenarus, who built a town named Taenarum after himself. At this region, a cave network was believed to be an entrance to Hades; the gate to the Underworld.
Situated 65 kilometres away from Gythio, on the southern tip of Eastern Mani, Cape Tainaron definitely aspires an experience of a lifetime. Travelling towards Cape Tainaron, an indescribable feeling of awe will overpower your soul.
History about Cape Tainaron
Cape Tainaron or Cape Matapan has been an important place for thousands of years. Near Taenarum, there is a cave that Greek legends claimed was the home of Hades, the god of the dead. The ancient Spartans built several temples there, dedicated to various gods. On the hill situated above the cave, lie the remnants of an ancient temple dedicated to the sea god Poseidon (Νεκρομαντεῖον Ποσειδῶνος). Under the Byzantine Empire, the temple was converted into a Christian church, and Christian rites are conducted there to this day. Cape Matapan was once the place where mercenaries waited to be employed.
At Cape Tainaron, the Titanic‘s would-be rescue ship, the SS Californian, was torpedoed and sunk by German forces on 9 November 1915. In March 1941, a major naval battle, the Battle of Cape Matapan, occurred off the coast of Cape Matapan, between the Royal Navy and the Italian Regia Marina, in which the British emerged victorious in a one-sided encounter. The encounter’s main result was to drastically reduce future Italian naval activity in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Hiking to the southmost point of mainland Greece – Cape Tainaron
A spectacular hiking route towards the imposing lighthouse of the Cape Tainaron at the southernmost point of mainland Greece.
The beautiful blue sea, the barren hills and the panoramic view compose a stunning scenery that can be enjoyed with all family members.
Cape Tainaron (Tenaro) is the southmost point of Greece and therefore the access from Athens is lengthy. From Athens, take the highway towards Corinth, Sparti and once arrived in Sparti follow the route towards Aeropoli. From Aeropoli you drive towards Porto Kagio and with the goal to reach Cape Tainaron (Tenaro).
I do not recommend to try to visit this location by public transport.
Leave your car and follow the path which begins from the Byzantine chapel of Agioi Asomatoi, built on the remains of Poseidon Sanctuary and Death Oracle to reach the Cave of Hades.
The distance is around 30 minutes by feet, but as soon as you get there you will be rewarded with the sense of ultimate freedom.
Hiking to the Lighthouse
The trail starts from the parking at the end of the paved road with the archaeologically interesting ruins of the Death Oracle of Poseidon Tainarios, God of the sea, not just for sailors.
There are many faint traces of ancient houses and port fortifications cut into the rocks along the way. Today the only other inhabitants, particularly in winter, are a few cows. The trail is mostly flat, but has some rocky sections on the last few hundred yards, with a bit of scrambling right before reaching the lighthouse, which is surrounded by a nice observation terrace.
Hiking till the lighthouse is a rather easy task for any adult and a nice hiking try out for toddlers or young kids. At the end of the trail, there is a beautiful lighthouse and there is marked the southmost point of mainland Greece and and Balkan peninsula.
The Lighthouse was built in 1882 by French and it was renovated in 1950.
As the southernmost point of the Balkan Peninsula, the cape is on the migration route of birds headed to Africa.
The hike from the parking lot till the lighthouse took us about 30 minutes and during the whole hike the views were really great. Although we did this hike in a sunny summer day, there was a gentle breeze from the sea that was cooling us down.
As soon we have reached the lighthouse, we enjoyed the stunning views and we were trying to figure our if we could see Africa from here!
For the visitors of Mani and generally for the visitors of southern Greece, I personally consider this a “must-do” hike. Mostly, I would like to visit again this place during the winter time because I am sure the total experience will be very different with the wild sea and the strong winds.
“He [Hercules] left his palace to free the world of savage monsters [….]many toils he has accomplished, and last of all has he passed through the mouth of Taenarus into the halls of Hades to drag to the light that hound with three bodies, and from there he has never returned”
(Euripides, Hercules, 20-25, 424 BCE)
Details of the Hike:
- Location: Cape Tainaron (Tenaro)
- Starting Point: Parking lot (Tainaron)
- Ending Point: Lighthouse Cape Tainaron
- Trail Signs: Obvious trail
- Minimum Elevation: 0 m
- Maximum Elevation: 56 m.
- Total Distance: 4,2 km
- Difficulty: Easy
- Water Features: No
See route on Map and via Google Earth here:
Below: This map marks all the mountaineering adventures that have been featured on Olympus Mountaineering so far, including several Sport climbing crags – Select full screen to expand, zoom in for more detail, or click on a marker for a link to the post.