Extremely rich nature of Parnonas has to offer a lot of excitement for well intentioned visitor. Even today, its vegetation, habitat types and flora maintain a high ecological value.
Gorgeous plateaus, numerous peaks, gorges, unique wild beauty and deep valleys form the versatile terrain of Parnonas. The area is also full of many other natural beauties such as waterfalls, caves, springs and streams.
In the region of mountain Parnonas there are more than 15 types of habitats, many of them are of particular interest such as extensive woodlands of Pinus nigra, forests with Juniperous drupaceae in the Malevi monastery region, the chestnut trees in Kastanitsa, the coastal wetland of Moustos, south of Astros, the ravine of Dafnonas etc.
Moreover, the area of Parnona is rich in amphibian and reptile fauna. At least 26 species of amphibians and reptiles have been recorded in the area, two of which are endemic to Greece and two to the Peloponnese.
The whole area has been designated as a National Park of Parnonas. It has been identified and formally institutionalized in 2008 with the name Eco Park Parnona – Moustos.
Several areas have been identified as particularly important for nature conservation, not only at National but also at European level and are registered in the Science Catalogue.
Parnonas range has been designated as Protected Area of Natura 2000 and now it belong to the European network of sites Natura 2000.
Since the area of Parnonas is separating Arcadia from Laconia, these two counties have played an important role in the history of the region because they were contested both by the city of Argos and the city of Sparta.
The first who inhabited Arcadia were Pelasgians, which followed by the Dorians . The most important cities back then were Tegea and Mantinea . The Arcadians suffered a lot of damage when they allied with the Athenians in the Peloponnesian war. In 369 BC Epaminondas of Thebes created an Arcadian Federation despite the objections of Sparta. In 243 BC Arcadia became a member of the Achaean Federation but due to constant internal problems of the era, the country soon surrendered to the Romans. During the Roman era, Arcadia was completely abandoned and the period that followed was known as Dark Ages. The area was occupied by the Franks in the 12th century and by the Ottomans in 1458. Due to its central position in the Peloponnese, Arcadia played a major role in the Revolution of 1821. The city has suffered many disasters during this period and the biggest of all was the bombing of Ibrahim Pasha in 1827.
Inhabited since the Neolithic period (6000-3000 BC), Laconia has been the focus of many turbulence throughout its history, with consequences that affected the entire ancient world of Greece.According to tradition , the first inhabitants were the Leleges who were assimilated by the Ionians and Achaeans . The numerous findings , cemeteries and settlements found in vast areas of Sparta show that the area was densely populated during the Mycenaean period .The Dorians settled in the area around 1100 BC and occupied the entire region of Laconia.The area was plundered many times , especially by the Goths , and later Slavic tribes settled in. Laconia was “Hellenised”between 10th to 13th centuries. In 1458 it was conquered by the Turks. The Turks were not able to defeat all of Laconia and many areas like Mani managed to maintain their independence. In 1685 the area was occupied by the Venetians until 1715, when the Turksreoccupied it and destroyed it completely. Laconia also took part in the Revolution of 1821.
During the German-Italian occupation the area Parnona was among the most important centres of resistance against the invaders. When the occupying troops left the area once again was induced by the Civil War in 1949. From the mid-19th century the area of Parnona, lose slowly its grandeur and dynamism and like all mountainous regions of Greece it was depopulated by internal and external migration.
Agriculture and livestock are the main occupations in this area while residents are also engaded with horticulture, logging, beekeeping, collection of herbs, the marble quarries etc. The rich tradition of the Parnonas region highlight many archaeological discoveries, historical settlements, monasteries, bridges, castles and historic villages with many local celebrations.
Tourism is also growing considerably in recent years and the area is investing a lot in appropriate tourist infrastructure for hosting visitors. Parnonas represents a timeless shelter of calm mountain getaways suitable for alternative tourism.
Utilizing numerous local products, the culinary tradition of Parnonas offers delicious dishes in harmony with the healthy Mediterranean diet.
Meanwhile , the special quality local products (olive oil, wine, cheese, livestock, fish, fruits, etc.) can turn even simple recipes in wonderful culinary experiences.
Many of the traditional ways to preserve the food are still kept alive, as for example the process of salting the pork which originates from Mani and it was spread throughout all the Laconia.
In the villages of Parnonas people desiccate wild grasses during the winter and they use them in summer to make delicious salads.
The preservation of the tomato in the form of a paste is well-known from the old days throughout the prefecture. Different sorts of olives are also preserved in various ways.
The production and preservation of pasta (sour and sweet frumenty and noodles) are widespread throughout all the villages.
Products of Parnonas:
• The Olive oil from Laconia
• The Tsakonian eggplant from Leonidio
• The Tsakonian cheese
• Walnuts from Arcadia
• The noodles and trachanas in Tripoli and Astros
The region of Parnonas holds a special place in the field of traditional Greek architecture.
The continuous habitation of the area from prehistoric times until today has left very important monuments of history, which form a continuum in development of the area and the profile of the region.
Inextricably tied to climatic, geomorphic, social and economic conditions of the region, the local architecture is characterized by simple, austere, rigorous and geometrical style.
Τhe towers and castles of the area are also of great interest such as Castle Geraki which is situated on the hill opposite to the village Geraki and the tower of Tsikalioti in Leonidion.
Historically Preserved and Protected traditional villages of the area are: Paralio Astros, Agios Petros, Kato Doliana, Kastanitsa, Prastos, Platanos, Agios Andreas, Leonidio, Pragmateftis, Sapounakeika, Pera Melana, Tiros, Kounoupia, Poulithra, Vlahokerasia, Kerasia and Kosmas.
The accomodation of visitors in the protected area of the Management Agency of Mountain Parnonas and Moustos Wetland is distinguished by its high quality and respect to the environment.
While exploring Parnonas, from mountain villages to seaside resorts, we always have a spot to rest and stay overnight. Traditional rooms, stone houses and other modern accommodation are dispersed throughout whole of the area.
Starting from the north and heading to south we discover a lot of traditional cafes, taverns as well as trendy café-bars where we can enjoy our coffee and delicious food.