“The Mani,” as its often called, is a peninsula that forms the southernmost tip of mainland Greece and the European continent east of Spain. This is a timeless region, divided into two halves, with Outer Mani home to pretty coastal villages known for providing an authentic Greek experience, while the Deep Mani lying south a remote area with a rugged coastline that’s rarely visited by tourists. There is little traffic and only a few sleepy fishing coves, some Byzantine churches and spectacular caves where stalactites are reflected in an underground lake. Mani Overview Part of the Peloponnese, forming the country’s southernmost tip, the Mani Peninsula is wild and rugged, with everything from pristine hidden coves with turquoise waters, charming villages, olive groves and the steep foothills of the Taygetos Mountainsm to more arid landscape in the south which is dotted with abandoned towers that create a unique sight, one of the most breathtaking in all of Greece. The impressive height of the towers was directly linked to the area’s defensive powers as well as to the social position and rank of the family to which they belonged. They’re the emblems of Mani.
The Mani boasts some of the most dramatic and diverse scenery in the region. An imaginary line running from Itylo to Gytheio divides the peninsula, into the Deep Mani and Outer Mani. Even during the peak of the nation’s tourist season, this area remains nearly empty, with ghostly hill towns clinging onto distant ridges that were fortified centuries ago to protect from pirate raids and foreign invaders. Arguably the highlight of the region its history and people, extremely hospitable, they claim to be direct descendants of ancient Spartans. While the rest of Greece was overcome by various invaders like the Turks, the Mani never lost its freedom. The Maniots remain close to their roots, providing an authentic, welcoming experience to travelers. Mani History in a Nutshell The history of The Mani goes back thousands of years. The very first inhabitants were the tribe of Leleges, and during ancient times this region was ruled by the Spartans who continued to do so until Greek Roman times. During the Byzantine period, it was included in the lands of the Peloponnese, and shortly before the fall of the Empire, it played a significant role in the Despotate of Morea, the Palaiologans. It’s believed that from about the 10th century onwards, “Mani” referred to just a small area where a bishop resided, and later it referred to only one castle, Megali Maini. In later years, it came to be known as the place where free people lived when the Turks occupied the region due to the rough, barren lands in the south that experienced frigid winters and hot summers in an area that was very difficult to access in the southern Peloponnese. The proud people never submitted to any invading forces, with the remote location helping the civilization to develop its own unique culture with rich traditions and complex social systems.
When Ottoman power declined, the mountains of the region became a stronghold for bandits who were also fighting against the Ottomans. Evidence has revealed that a significant portion of the Maniot population emigrated during the Ottoman years. Petros Mavromichalis was one the leaders in the Greek War of Independence, and the last bey of Mani. In 1821, he proclaimed the revolution. While the Maniots made significant contributions to the struggle, when Greek independence was won, they hoped to retain local autonomy. There was violent resistance to outside interference under Greek statesman Ioannis Kapodistrias, which ultimately led to the death of Kapodistrias by Mavromichalis. In 1878, the local autonomy of the Mani was reduced by the national government, resulting in many inhabitants leaving for major Greek cities as well as emigrating to the United States and western Europe. It wasn’t for another century that it began to repopulate, regaining prosperity thanks to the construction of new roads, which supported tourism.
Mani At A Glance
Average Flight Time from the UK to Mani 4hours 45mins
What to See in Mani Take a cable car and enjoy spectacular views, Discover the City Walls, Discover the magic of the Old Town, Game of Thrones tour, Sea Kayak Tour, Lokrum Island
Towns or islands to visit near Mani Daytrip to Montenegro or Bosnia Herzegovina, Mljet National Park, Korcula Island, Lopud Island, Sipan Island