Legends of the stone – Shadows of the past…
Your tour starts in Areopolis and Limeni, the birthplace of the Mavromichalis family. Follow the provincial road from Areopolis to Gerolimenas, in the direction of Kitta or “polypyrgou” as locals call it because of the large number of towers that stand out of its neighbourhoods. As you travel from Aeropolis to Kitta, stop at the castle in Tigani. From Kitta, continue on the same road and 13 km later you come to Vatheia, the listed village that, in the past, was ravaged by bloody feuds and was one of the bases of the pirates in the area. Lagia, 11 km from Vatheia, along the provincial road from Hosiario to Gerolimenas is the last stop on your route. The number of family churches you come across here refers you to the times of intense conflicts among the strong families of the area.
Information for visitors
Wander the alleys and listen to the echoes of the stories of the past. Sit at one of the traditional, cozy cafes of the villages and start a conversation with the locals. Through their stories and narratives, travel to the past and to the tradition of a people that has managed to keep the legacy of its ancestors alive. The shadows of the legends are hidden behind the locked doors of the towers, in the cobbled alleys next to the stone walls.
Indulge in the beauty of Mani’s landscape and enjoy the beautiful beaches. Explore the secret coves and caves. If you are lucky, you may encounter one of the fairies placing the sunset at the edge of the shore…
If you have the strength, follow the trails leading to the castles, gaze the open sea like the old pirates and travel in your imagination to the years of warfare, when steel met with the stone of the place.
Myths and traditions bring to light the shadows of legends: of the princess in Tigani, of the noble families and the renowned stoneworkers of Kitta, of the battles for the honour of the families in the neighbourhoods of Vatheia and Lagia, of Gerakaris, the pirate, and many more, that knit the thread of memory and history with sunlight, on the hard and beautiful stone…
Point of Interest A
The tough battles given to conquer the castles gave birth to legends that haunt the ruined battlements and unguarded towers even today. If you happen to be in Tigani, search for the 365 hidden cisterns and listen for the echo of the legend of the princess of the castle as it is preserved in the local dialect … “there was war in the castle and the Turks defeated the Christans for they were countless. And the Princess fell with her horse down the cliff. And the marks of the hooves of her horse are there on the rock …»
Point of interest B
Kitta, the Polypyrgou
During the last years of the Byzantine Empire, the cliffs of Mani became a shelter for many strong families. Several of them settled in the area of Kitta, where they consolidated their dominance raising strong tower houses. Kitta was the homeland of warriors and great artisans of stone such as Kalapothos Lymperis, whose house was adorned with exquisite reliefs which can still be seen.
Point of interest C
Vatheia – Lagia
Both these villages still maintain the original character of local architecture: Vatheia, with the neighbourhoods of the powerful families, with 70 houses, tower houses and churches founded on the rock and Lagia, with the towers and family churches. In these villages, generations of people were bound by a code of honour that led to the vendettas that ravaged the place over the centuries.
Point of Interest D
Fairies and Pirates
According to legend, the Mavromichalis family was born of a fairy that Giorgis Mauromichalis managed, with a trick, to make his wife. It was because of her beauty that they were also called Neraidogennitoi (born of a fairy). Except for fairies, pirates who tricked passing boats into running into the steep rocks also found shelter in these same caves on the edge of the rock, by the sea. Famous among them was Lymperakis Gerakaris who stood out for his courage and his toughness…