History, Sightseeing, and Fairs

Mani is a place with great history. It was inhabited for the first time in the Paleolithic era, while the findings demonstrate the continued presence of settlement and civilization in the area. Notable facilities dated from the Neolithic era were kept up to the Bronze Age, whith most significant those of of Vitilon (Itilo), Kardamyli, and Githio – also mentioned by Homer!  After the descent of the Dorians in the Peloponnese, Mani follows the fate of Sparta and the rest of Laconia, and in the Roman days participates in the “Kino Eleftherolakonon” (Society of Free Lakedemons). During the first Byzantine centuries the whole region is integrated to the provincial administrative system of the Byzantine Empire and belongs to the broader prefecture of Achaia. After their settlement in the Peloponnese, the Franks build three fortresses and castles in strategic points, which they give up to the Byzantine Emperor as soon as the Byzantine reign is restored and the seigniory of Mystras is established. After the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, the Sultan Mohamed II turns to the Peloponnese and his troops conquer Mystras – that’s when a new historical course for Mani begins. During combats between Turks and Venetians, Mani’s natives don’t cease revolting and struggling against Turkish subjection – and they keep fighting until the great uprising of all the Greek nation which Kolokotronis together with Mani’s fighters fired up.


Unquestioned star of the region, the neighboring – and known from the Homeric period – Kardamili. Wonderfully preserved, as sir Patrick Leigh Fermor first saw it in 1960 – the leading travel writer of the 20th century fell in love at first sight with the village and remained there until his death in the summer of 2011-, Kardamili offers great views;  from the old town with the abandoned fortified tower houses, the Tower of Troupakis or Mourtzinos and the 18th century church of Aghios Spiridon (Saint Spiridon) to the rock carved tombs of  Dioscuri and the ruins of Homeric Kardamili, as well as the island Merope or Amygdaloniso with remnants of the Venetian fortress standing at the orizon. Next stop, the land of Zorba and beloved of foreign visitors, Stoupa with the legendary beach of fine sand and the Frankish Beaufort castle built on the site of the ancient citadel of the city Leuctra. From the stone villages of Western Taygetos, it’s worth visiting picturesqueThalames, Lagada with its stone tower houses, Proastio with the 76 churches and the majestic Spring of the Melissinians, Saidona with the three storey tower of Kitriniaris and Kastania with the five storey tower of Captain Dourakis – once the refuge of Theodoros Kolokotronis and other heroes of the Greek Revolution. The most famous tower of Mani is the imposing three-storey square war tower of Kapetanakis in Sotiriannika, while the castle of Zarnata dominates Kampos and marks the entrance to Exo Mani. As for the Laconian Mani: starting from Gythio with its unique architecture, the picturesque harbor and the little island of Kranai, Aeropoliwith the towers and cobbled streets, Oitilo mentioned by Homer in the Iliad and Limeni opposite the Tower of Petrobeis Mavromichalis, Gerolimenaswith Cavo Grosso, the traditional settlement of Vatheia with its grand towers and the  16th century monastery of Ntekoulou enclosing the church with the reputed post-Byzantine frescos, the  settlements of Kotrona among the olive grove and Lagia with its round towers, Koita – the  birthplace of Maniot  towers – and ending in Cape Tainaron with the lighthouse and Porto Cayo –  the southernmost natural harbor of the Greek mainland.


INTERNATIONAL SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVAL at LEFKTRO – lasts all summer (www.mani-sonnenlink.com, tel 27210-77711)
The Bläuel couple, Viennese residents of Mani and founders of the Sonnenlink (and Sonnenhouse, the art and spirituality venue), invite distinguished musicians from around the world to interpret Mozart, Brahms, and Greek composers at the outdoor amphitheater. Organic buffet follow each concert.

According to Pausanias, during Antiquity, Taleton – the highest peak of Taygetos, later named Profitis (Prophet) Elias – was dedicated to the Sun. Today, the characteristics of the ancient worship revive in the small – roofless – brick-built chapel of Prophet Elias every year, on July 19th. Bonfires are lit throughout the night, while the bell rings at 2 am and the function lasts until sunrise. Only minutes before dawn and when the atmosphere is clean, hundreds of locals, as well as tourists, witness the shadow of the mountain’s peak reflect in the waters of the Messinian Gulf, forming the famous “phenomenon of the pyramid”- a rare and magnificent sight.

The most atmospheric fair of the Assumption takes place at the picturesque stone built village of Trahila (7.5 km east of Agios Nikolaos).

We created a Fairs & Festivals’ brochure with detailed information on the events in the wider area – look for it in your villa.