Μani, stepping on the end-point of Europe…
“Mani” or “Raging Rock” is the name given to the area covering the middle of the three peninsulas in the southern Peloponnese. The mountain range of the Upper and Lower Taygetos Mountain represents the last Alpine folds of Pindos in the Mediterranean, thus forming a peninsula and one the most dramatic scenery in Greece.
Mani’s Proud Mountains…
The north-western slopes are the “outer Mani” or “North Shadows”, but the heart of Mani lays in the “Inner Mani” with all the picturesque little villages .
Intense feelings are generated at the mythical Akrotainaro, where we sense the power of the imposing, strong and proud mountains at Lageia, Kokala, Flomoxori and Exo Nifi. But this is just a start.
We follow the sunrise from Porto Kayo in Kotrona, along the coastlines to the crest of Sangia. The roads here are of particular interest as they pass through the tall bare mountains following bends and turns, while the view of the sea pleasantly merges in the distance.
What are these little towers we see everywhere we wonder? The peculiar architecture of Mani is explained through the social structure of the Familia where rifles played a big part in the home. While passing through slopes and valleys distinguished settlements appear consisting of individual Towers and castle-like chateaus. They represent this historical social structure of Mani and create a particular flavour and attractiveness to the area.
The harshness of Mani landscape can be paralleled with the coarse features of the people here, but the numerous bays and inlets of Mani can definitely offer you unforgettable memories that will stay with you for some time.
The inhabitants are engaged in farming, beekeeping and growing olive trees and as we continue exploring the Mani forests towers pop up here, there and everywhere.
At Kokinogia and Marmari there is a triplet of rich sandy beaches, certainly the best of Mani. Here at the beautiful beach of Marmaris – the jewel of Mani – we find paradise, beige sand along with clear blue waters in front of strong harsh views of the mountains. It is a coastline that many across the country are envious of, a pure natural beauty, far from the noisy beach images we are used to seeing. If you dare to close your eyes for a moment, you become one with nature as you hear the sound of the water hitting up against the land and the sound of the air travelling between the mountains.
Still in the area of Akrotainaron, we head towards Diros Cave which is considered to be the first among the three most beautiful and impressive lake caves in the world (along with that of Padirac in South France and the Jeita Grotto in the capital of Lebanon, Beirut) because of its multicolored and wonderful decoration. It is an underground river and is formed of two main parallel runways with several secondary. It is situated in the south of Areopoli, in the Peloponnese. The bay of Diros with its white pebbles and crystal waters lies below the entrance of the cave. The length of the corridors of the cave that can be visited is 3100m, of which only 300m are in land. The tour of the marine area is by battery powered boat.
And so… let’s not forget to eat! Almost everywhere we enjoy exquisite Mani recipes, while the wonderful family who run the estate can surely enslave even the most wayward visitor with the quality of services offered. We sit to enjoy the local recipes in a traditional family-run tavern, close to the locals and away from the stereotypes of tourism. Besides, we are voyagers, not tourists!
Next we move towards Porto Sternes and Cape Tainaro. Since Cape Tainaron is the furthest point of land in Southeast Europe, we consider it an honourable stop in our journey. An unknown corner of our country, simply amazing! We follow the path (a walk of about 1-2km to reach the furthest point of land) that leads us to the lighthouse. Porto Sternes is deep in the cove with turquoise waters and the exotic, archaic mosaic languishes “helplessly” on the coast. A few minutes there and you can see that deep in time, the form of a Tainaro Man lingers, and perhaps even earlier that of a Neanderthal.
Further along we enjoy a rest at Porto Kayo, the scenery enchants immediately and visitors can enjoy the tranquil of a fishing village with all its culture and expressions.
Moving up more North now in Laya, keeping with the characteristic Mani style of course, we pass the ridge and the view of the huge Gulf of Laconia is breathtaking, while beneath the castle-like houses and stone walls create a strange formation across the rough earth.
Finally Kotronas. The ancient Port of Mani and home to municipality of East Mani spreads its own panorama. It is also worthwhile to enjoy the breathtaking view of mini towers being lost at sea behind fig trees, at Loukadika.
The Temple of Poseidon
Here, At Cape Tainaron or Cape Matapa beyond Vatheia and Porto Kayo lays the ancient temple of Poseidon Tainaron.
The lighthouse was built by the French in 1882 and first opened in 1887. Its square tower is 16 meters in height. According to ancient tradition, the son of Zeus and Erimidis had built the city Tainaro and the famous temple of Poseidon. But the sea has inundated most of the coast, and at present, many more buildings and monuments are hidden there. A systematic underwater excavation will definitely reveal wonders here.
Motovoyager travelled through Mani, but more specifically we feel as though we have travelled through time. Mani offers such a journey through time as you engage with its history, its people and the untouched natural environment it has to offer. Undoubtedly a very impressive and unforgettable experience!
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