A journey to the heritage of Byzantine Mani
The tour of the churches of Mani starts in Gytheio. Take the main road in the direction of Areopolis and, at the village Georgakari, follow the sign to Germa and Kareas. At the entrance of the village, there is the church of Agios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas), dating back to the 11th century. Continue on the main road leading from Germa to Oitylo. Follow the bypass road leading to the Dekoulou Monastery, headquarters of the rebels during the Orloff revolt. Your next stop is Areopolis where you can admire the church of the Archangels, which stands out for its ornate stone reliefs. From Areopolis follow the main road that leads to Kitta and Gerolimenas. All along the route, you can see remarkable examples of religious architecture, such as the Church of the Taxiarhes (Archangels) in Harouda, the Church of Agia Varvara (Saint Barbara) in Erimos and the Sotiros Church (of our Saviour) in Gardenitsa. Your final stop is the Church of Agioi Sergios and Vacchoss (Tourloti church) a short distance from Kitta.
Information for visitors
The churches in the area can be visited with prior arrangement with the 5th Byzantine Antiquities Bureau. The church of the Archangels in Harouda and the church of our Saviour in Gardenitsa open on the days they are celebrated, on November 8th and August 6th respectively. Since there are not enough signs you had better ask locals for information as the churches are in the centres of the villages. Dekoulou Monastery can be visited during the summer months with prior arrangement with the family living in an adjacent building.
Oitylo and Areopoli are stopovers on this tour. Try local dishes at the quaint taverns and also cool off in the crystal waters at the beaches of Limeni and Karavostasi. If you wish to extend your stay in the area, staying at one of the guest houses built according to the traditional architecture of the area will be one of the highlights of your visit.
The churches and the monasteries of Mani are everywhere: at village squares, on the tops of hills, on capes, in bays and deep canyons, a true expression of the living faith of local residents. There they stand, guarding the place, witnesses of its Byzantine past, inviting the visitor on a journey through time.
Point of Interest A
Agios Nikolaos Germas
The church of Agios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas) is located in Germa, a few kilometres away from Oitylo. In the centre of the village there is the church of Agios Nikolaos, next to the Monument of Macedonia Liberation War Fighters, Germas and Tsotakos. The church is of the cross-domed architectural style and dates back to the 11th century. The interior is richly decorated, while, externally, it is decorated with remarkable architectural sculptures.
Point of interest B
A short distance from the beach of Oitylo, there is Dekoulou Monastery, another monument of the historical and religious tradition of the place. The monastery was a base of fighters during the Orloff revolt in 1770. According to history, Daniil and Nikiforos, members of the Dekoulos family from Constantinople, were its founders. Inside the church, you can admire fine frescoes by the local painters Antonis Dimangelos from Koutifari and Ilias Kouloufakos from Kouskouni.
Point of Interest C
Church of the Archangels in Areopolis
Reliefs with figures that link myth with religion, rosettes, cherubs and elaborate symbols carved by renowned craftsmen of the stone: such are the representations you see on the facade of the church of the Archangels in Areopolis. From its courtyard, on March 17th 1821, rebels set off to conquer Kalamata, after declaring the start of the Revolution War in Moreas.
Point of Interest D
Church of the Archangels in Harouda
The church of the Archangels in Harouda dates back to the 11th century. The colourful exterior decorations as well as the rich themes of the frescoes in the interior are the main features of the church. Dedicated to the memory of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, psychopomps and warriors, it is a cemetery church that attracts many people from the surrounding area on the day the Archangels are celebrated, November 8th.
Point of Interest E
Church of our Saviour in Gardenitsa – Church of Agia Varvara in Erimos, Church of Sergios and Bacchos in Kitta
These three churches date back to the 11th and 12th centuries AD, the heyday of Christianity in the Mani peninsula. During those centuries there was high building activity and a big production of sculptures. The first two churches, built in the centres of the villages and the third one, built a short distance from Kitta, are all proof of the area’s Byzantine heritage and the religious feeling of locals.