Stone shadows and Guardians of the past
Ktita, also called “Polypyrgou”, located 20 km from Areopolis, is one of the oldest and most historic villages of the region and the starting point of your tour. Just 13 kilometers away from Kitta, there is Vatheia, a world trademark of traditional Mani architecture. Return to the main road and at the village Alika, follow the coastal road in the direction of Gytheio. On the way, stop at Lagia to see the fortified towers of the Koutsilieris and Vougiouklakis families. From Lagia, follow the provincial road from Hosiario to Gerolimenas and after driving 20 km, you come to Flomohori, one of the most picturesque villages in Mani, where you are welcomed by the Tsilivakos and Panteleakos towers. Continue towards Gytheio from where you take the provincial road from Gytheio to Myrsini, in the direction of the village Pilala, where you can see the Hatzakos tower house. After driving for 15 km along the provincial road from Kardamyli to Kokkina Louria you get to Venetsanakis Tower in Kastania, the final stop on your tour.
Information for visitors
Most of the towers you come across in the region, with the exception of those that have been renovated and are operating as guest houses, are closed and cannot be visited. However, you can visit several towers inside the villages that are only a short distance from the national road, such as Stavri, Kounos and Dris. The Venetsanakis Tower in Kastania can be visited upon request. A good opportunity to visit it is during Venetsanakeia, the events held every year in late August on the anniversary of the 1780 battle.
Following the road from Kitta to Vatheia, stop at one of the picturesque beaches and enjoy a swim. For your accommodation, you can choose among the traditional guesthouses built in the local architectural style. Live the magic of the stone and the big blue, looking at the sea from the ramparts of the towers…
Most towers in Mani were built during the period between 1770 and 1850. The first examples of this defense architecture were characterized by simplicity in structure and function. These vertical structures were built with stones and boulders. With the years, more complex forms that combined defense with habitation made their appearance. Such were tower houses and fortified complexes that were seats of powerful local families. Many towers are still standing and several of them are now operating as traditional guesthouses.
Point of Interest A
It is considered as the birthplace of powerful families that, according to sources, were called “megalogennites” or “soilides’ as opposed to the lower families that were called “achamnomeroi” or ” famegioi”. Towers defined the borders of the areas of the strong families inside the settlements. Besides the towers, you can also admire the stone reliefs that adorn the residence of Kalapothos Limperis, one of the most famous stone workers in the area.
Point of interest B
Vatheia is a complex of 150-some houses, towers and churches that cluster on the top of a hill. The settlement was first recorded in the middle of the 16th century, while its heyday is dated at the beginning of the 19th century. When wandering in the maze of the cobbled streets, in the shadows of the imposing towers, as you travel in your imagination to a different age, you experience a different feeling. Vatheia is considered to be an architectural standard and is studied at universities worldwide.
Point of interest C
One of the most characteristic villages in Mani, known for its leaning military towers that used to belong to powerful families but also for its numerous churches dedicated to the patron saints of those families. At the village square, there is the church of Panagia and, next to it, the bust of the hero of the Imia crisis Panagiotis Vlachakos. A short distance from the village, you can admire the view to the valley and the characteristic terraces that were built to make the most efficient use of the shallow soil.
Point of Interest D
At the square of Flomohori, you come across the characteristic figures of the elderly men of the village, happy to start a conversation and to unravel the tangle of memories and stories passed down from generation to generation. With the village towers as your background, let your imagination travel back to the 17th and the 18th centuries when the towers were built, with Panteleakos and Tsilivakos towers the best known among them.
Point of interest E
Hatzakos tower house – Pilala
This tower house comprises a number of facilities that serve the needs of both defense and habitation. A fortified building complex, it includes a residential section as well as a number of other buildings used for other purposes.
Point of interest F
Venetsanakis tower in Kastania
High up in Sminos, in the mountainous Kastania, your last stop on the trail to the monastery of Panagia Giatrissa, a narrow cobbled path takes you out of the village and outside the heavy, double-door of the tower of the Venetsanakis family, a strong family of seafarers. Here, in the shadow of stone, Theodoros Kolokotronis spent the first years of his life, as the tower was a refuge for persecuted freedom fighters. In 1780, the tower was occupied by the Ottomans after a twelve days’ obstinate siege.