Mani Travel Guide

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The Mani is a region of Greece's southern Peleponneses. It has a unique history, people, and architcture.

It is a land of stone towers, beautifull beaches, and rich history.

Kalamata serves as the gateway to Mani, and is a good base for local exploration.

Mani consists of two main regions, Exo Mani ("Outer Mani") and Mesa Mani ("inner Mani") Although there is evidence of occupation from Paleolithic times, history has it that Mani was settled by colonists from Sparta, and kept Spartan customs long after Sparta stopped doing so. It has traditionally been a place that political refuges have come to.

Some of the flavor of the region can be gleaned from the fact that this region of Greece celebrates the Greek independence earlier than the rest of Greece. Why? "Because we celebrate when WE started fighting!" There are several stone castles in the area. [Be warned that the term "castle" in the Mani usually means a fortification, not a keep as it is in Britian.]

There are many books in print, in many different languages, about the unique culture of the area.

The area has significant cultural differences from the rest of Greece, although this is changing since the government put in the first automoble travelable road in the 1960's.

Outer Mani has the most tourist facilities, and has wonderfull beaches, and is only a few miles outside of Kalamata. The road into Exo Mani is a mountain road, with all the great views, and exposed curves, that that normally implies.

Inner Mani is an arid and rough area of stone towered villages and long history. Areopolis is the major city of Mesa Mani, and is the place where the Greek war of Independence started. There is a statue in the main square of Mavromachalis Petrobey, who was the great hero of the war.

There are world class caves at Pirgos Dyru (just outside of Areopolis a few miles to the south) that justifiably attracts tourists from all over the world.

While the archeological record shows settlement back to neolithic times [There is an archological display at the caves of Pirgos Diro], tradition holds that it was settled by outcast Spartans. This, and its history of family vendetas, help explain their fierce reputation in the eyes of the rest of Greece.

Mani is a region of stone towered villiages, and of the old stonework roads (called "kalderimi or kalderimia") which are so picturesque, and of deep history both modern and ancient.

In ancient times it was written about by Pausanias and Strabo, who's directions can generally be followed today.

In later times it was known for its pirates and raiding [Kelefa had been called "New Algers" for its trade in captives]. It was also known for fierce battles with Turks, Franks, Bavarians, and anyone else trying to claim the area. For example, there are local stories of the women of Pirgos Dirou fighting off a landing of the Turkish navy when the men of the Mani were up north fighting the Turks. And there is the story of the Maniots ransoming a Bavarian fighting unit back to their ruler... after relieving them of items of military significance, such as guns, knives, shoes, clothes...

It has also been known as a refuge and asylum for those with politically unpopular views.

In more modern times it was the place where the revolution that overthrew turkish occupation started. [It was "officially" declaired later elsewhere, but only after Kalamata was already freed of the Turks.]

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August 31, 2004 change by nahaj

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