After visiting the Kalavryta Holocaust Museum yesterday, I want to walk up to the memorial site on the Kappi Ridge. I can see the large cross on the hill from my hotel balcony, just over the tops of the pan-tiled rooves across the road. This morning, however, even though the sky is bright, there are whisps of cloud or fog spilling down from the mountain tops.
Breakfast at Filoxenia is a very good start to the day. The breakfast room is much busier today but I think the Athenians are visiting for one last chance to ski before the snow melts.
Once in the centre of the town, I get my bearings. Keeping the church on my right-hand side I cut across the square until I find myself on the main road up out of the village. I don’t have to walk very far to get some fantastic views of Mount Erymanthos to the West of Kalavryta. Mount Chelmos is just South East of the town and is where the Kalavryta Ski Resort is located but I can’t see it from here.
After passing the high school on my left-hand side, I find the beginning of the stone steps leading up to the site of the massacre. I stop regularly to catch my breath. Although the purpose of the climb is to pay respects to the fallen, my eyes keep getting drawn back to the snow-capped mountains. Down below, the terracotta pan-tiled rooves contrast against the lush, verdant landscape. Italian Cyprus poke their way up into my line of view but the higher I climb, the more of this small town is revealed.
That thunderstorm and the rain that came with it, has really brought out the richness of the scenery. It is so incongruous with the horrors that took place here in 1943. And this is the dichotomy of the situation. This beautiful landscape and the atrocity that took place in it are seemingly so opposed to each other, and yet they absolutely define each other.
There are several signs along the way up including a list of the 104 martyred villages.
Once at the site, I take a moment to think about what happened on that day in 1943. I try to imagine what those men and young boys must have felt as the realisation of what was about happen dawned on them. But I can’t even get close. How could I?
On the way back down I sit on the steps for a while just to think and to listen to the birdsong coming from a nearby tree. You have to remember these events in history – though we the human race aren’t learning these lessons very well at times.