The beautifully built Maniot towers, war machines
They are the emblems of Mani. Vigilant lookouts. You won’t find such a spectacular sight in all of Greece. Stone strongholds that thrust from the rocky land as if to strike the sky itself. Their height was directly related to their defensive powers, but also to the rank and social position of the family to which they belonged. Their construction was dictated by military strategy; no windows, minimal openings, battlements and multiple storeys, to give their defenders the advantage. Their spare, elegant masonry was the product of generations of local craftsmen who drew their inspiration from Byzantine fortification architecture.
Byzantine churches: perfect gems in a raw terrain
You will find this part of Greece’s history – Byzantium – throughout Mani. You’ll see Byzantine churches everywhere. Usually small and humble, they are nevertheless architectural masterpieces and monuments to unshakable faith. Their exteriors are of brick and russet stone. Many possess beautiful domes, carved marble iconostases and other relief decorations. Most of them are well worth a closer look.
Vathia and its trademark towers
The cluster of towers that forms this fortified village is among the most famous in the Mani and a hauntingly beautiful sight.
A trip to the underground lakes in the Dirou caves
The colours and shapes here are beyond description. Spelunkers consider the Dirou caves among the most important on the planet. The easiest one to visit, at Vlyhada, is 2.5km long, while the cave at Alepotrypa (‘fox hole’) was inhabited in Neolithic times.
South of Areopolis, you’ll come to the indescribably lovely, much photographed little fishing port of Limeni. It boasts a handful of superb tower houses, some exceptional boutique hotels and great fish tavernas.