The caves of Mani
In the depths of myth – In the beginning of time
Bound to legend, tradition and history, these majestic and mysterious caves extend in the area around the bay of Diros, a short distance from Areopolis. A community developed here during the Later and Final Neolithic Period (4800-3200 BC). Remains of the daily activitise of this residential group came to light during the excavations by Giacarried out by Giannis and Anna Petroheilos. These world famous caves, due to their unparalleled beauty, are visited by thousands of visitors every year.
Information for tourists
The Diros caves can be reached by the main Gytheion-Areopolis road. From Areopolis, continue on the provincial Areopolis-Gerolimenas road and 6 km later follow the signs to Diros. The caves are open from 8.30-17.30 and they take you on a small boat tour of about 1200 meters, after which there is another 300 metres of walking. A short distance from the entrance of the caves there is the Diros Caves Museum. Inside, you can see a collection of various tools, weaving paraphernalia, jewelry, clay and marble figurines as well as human and animal residues found during the excavations. The museum is open every day from 8.00 -15.00 except Mondays.
* If you visit the caves, do not neglect to bring a jacket as the temperature inside is about 18 ° C and humidity is high.
The experience of the visit to the Diros caves is made complete with a cool escape to the nearby beach. Try local meats and seafood by the sea, sprinkled with salt from the salt fields of Tigani. Do not forget to buy some of this salt as well as other products of Mani that will keep your culinary experience alive…
Stalactites and stalagmites give shape to the stone, creating magic images inside the humid caves. The names given by speleologists to the chambers of the caves are fairy-tale too: Velvet Stalactite, Hallway of Dreams, Lake of the Nymphs of the Ocean. And the journey begins…
Point of Interest A
Alepotrypa is a cave 300 meters long, with chambers that follow one after the other. A lake with drinking water, at the far end of the cave, attracted the attention of the first inhabitants and was used by them as a place of worship, as a shelter during winter months, as a store room for supplies and as a resting place for the dead. Recent excavations have brought to light the remains of the oldest double burial in Europe: a couple buried in an embracing position 6000 years ago….
Point of interest B
Theis cave stands out for its rich decoration that ranks it among the best lake caves in the world. An underground river runs inside it the water of which meets that of the sea and becomes brackish or “vlyho” as it is called in the local dialect, giving the cave its name. Take a deep breath as you enter the Great Ocean Hall which is 160 meters long and 30 metres high…
Point of Interest C
Life in the Caves
The excavations and the research carried out in the caves of Diros by Giannis and Anna Petrohilou unearthed a number of findings that give us information about the life of their first inhabitants: it was a community of farmers and breeders. The food remains found at the deep ends of the caves show that they engaged in hunting and fishing. Inside these caves, the first inhabitants of the Neolithic Period made tools and utensils, today exhibited at the Diros Neolithic Museum.
A slogan (On the paths of Nature and Culture)
The area of the municipality of Sminos with its picturesque villages, surrounded by lavish green sceneries, is a unique destination and one of the highlights of your visit to Mani. It is aimed at lovers of greenery and trekking and also at those who enjoy diversity of landscape, proving that the area of the Municipality of Eastern Mani is a destination for all seasons that caters for all tastes! Enjoy your coffee at the village squares, walk the narrow streets and explore the interior of the historic Venetsanakis Tower in Kastania. If you visit the area in September, follow E4 internautional path to the monastery of Panagia Giatrissa on the boundaries with the neighboring county of Messinia.
The route to the villages of the municipality of Sminos starts from Melissa where you arrive following the direction towards Arhontiko, Selegoudi and Agios Nikolaos on the main road from Gytheion to Sparti. Your first stop is the bridge of Stara within walking distance from the village, the water springs and the Monastery of Panagia Roitsa. Continue towards Selegoudi and Kastania and your next station is Panayiotarou Venetsanaki Tower in Kastania. Your final stop is the historic Monastery of Panagia Giatrissa on the bounderies of the county of Laconia and that of Messinia, near Vasiliki forest.