Information for visitors
There are not enough signs to the bridge of Stara so it is a good idea to ask locals for information. In recent years, on August, two-day events are organized in honour of the heroic defenders of Mani in Venetsanakis Tower. Also, call on 2733094086 to find out about visiting hours of the Giatrissa Monastery. This is a destination for the insider and the connoisseur that invites you to explore the beauty and the secrets of the area. The picturesque villages that, in spite of time, maintain their local colour and authentic character, the Byzantine churches and monasteries, the hiking trails leading to the forest of Vasiliki and the products it generously offers make Mani the ideal setting for a unique experience.
Point of Interest A
The Bridge of Stara
The bridge of Stara is built near the village Melissa and connects the two banks of the river Sminos. In the past, the bridge and the villages of Bardounia where islamized Albanians used to live, formed the boundaries of Exo Mani. In 1825, the troops of Ibrahim Pasha crossed the bridge during the Battle of Polyaravou. Buildings that used to serve as outposts are still preserved on either end of the bridge. The building on the Turkish side also functioned as a Customs Office.
Point of interest B
Panayiotarou Venetsanaki Tower – Kastania
The Panayiotarou Venetsanaki Tower in the picturesque village of Kastania was the refuge of the Kolokotronis family during the persecutions that followed the failed Orloff Revolution. This is where the leader of the struggle for Independence Theodoros Kolokotronis spent his childhood years. It is in this fortified tower that Captain Panagiotaros and Konstantis Kolokotronis, Theodoros’s father, fought to the end against the Turkish troops in the battle of Kastania in 1780.
Monastery of Panagia (Our Lady) Giatrissa
The monastery of Panagia Giatrissa, built at an altitude of 1175 metres, on the boundaries of the counties of Messinia and Laconia, stands imposing, offering visitors a panoramic view. Its foundation dates back to Byzantine times. Having been badly hit by pirate attacks, it was abandoned for a long time and then was inhabited again in 1632 by Kyriakoulis Iliafentis and his wife, Maria, from neighbouring Kastania. Her memory is honoured every year on 8th September, when many pilgrims gather from all over Greece. It is worth mentioning that, according to custom, every year, many pilgrims walk a distance of approximately 25 km to get to the monastery. So if your visit coincides with the feast of Our Lady, get dressed and be equipped accordingly and enter the monastery in awe after 8 to 10 hours of walking on roads and rocky paths. From Kastania, you can also visit the famous forest of Vasiliki, the southernmost fir and black-pine-tree forest in Greece.