The Mani is a facinating destination that blends senic beauty with tradition and history. Situated in the middle promontory of Southern Peloponesse it includes parts from both perfectures of Laconia and Messinia. It is one of the most traditional regions of Greece encompassing 800 towers, more than 1000 byzantine and post byzantine churches, 8 castles, 98 of the 118 traditional villages in Peloponesse and more than 100 caves including Diros caves, the finest in Greece.
The climatological conditions contributes to the growth of olive trees and som of the best olive oils are produced here.
The Mani has an extensive classical history which is attested to by Homer in “The Iliad” and Pausanias in his “Guide to Greece” during the Roman Period. However, it was after the collapse of the Byzantine Empire that The Maniats acquired a reputation as ferocious and fearless fighters. The Ottoman Empire now dominated most of Greece but the Maniats resisted occupation and their proud “tower villages” stand as a tribute to those Spartan descendants who refused to bow down to the Turkish Sultan.
In 1821 a truce was arranged between all the feuding families and they united in a concerted effort to fight the Turks in the Greek War of Independence. They attacked the Turkish Garrison at Kalamata and secured the first victory of the war which eventually liberated Greece after hundreds of years of foreign occupation.
Very popular are Vatheia, Diros caves and cape Tainaron. Take time to explore further and you will find a whole lot more!
"Here, up to the Mani Mountains
Came ancient Spartans and
Now these people are called Maniots
To save their honor and freedom
They built cities up in the mountains
And lots of villages."