Greece: Historical war-towers in Mani

War Tower Mani Greece

Greece hosts so many hallmarks of a glorious era, The Towers of Mani being amongst them.

As known to many people this country is famous for possessing legendary fighting spirit at the time and these fortifications which are found all over Mani reflect this spirit of the region in a successful manner.

Experts say that the first towers in the architectural history of this unique place appear in the second half of the 13th century. In fact many fortifications are known to be built by Frank officials who settled in the regions of Koitas and Nomia after Mystras and Nikli of Arcadia were taken Byzantines.

On the other hand some other tower forts were also built by the Maniates soldiers returning from the West after taking part in the wars of the Venetians. It is clearly seen that the towers were established as a local means of defense in the region in the era of Ottoman occupation, when they took their final form, radically changing the architectural scene of Mani and setting it apart from the rest of Greece.

 At the time, Mani society segregated into clans or families, and the clan chief was in need to obtain and safeguard a means of livelihood for his family. That is how the idea of fortifying the Mani home with a tower came about. Thus, the building of the family tower was a great dream for the men of Mani as well as the common obligation of all the male members of the clan.

Down below is a more detailed description of these beautiful towers;

The main buildings architecture reflects different time periods: (1) one and two-storey old Máni houses, constructed before 1840; (2) two, three and four-storey “tower-houses” built during the 1840-1870 period; and (3) one and two-storey “modern houses” built during the 1890-1915 period.

As you walk through the village’s cobbled paths, you realize that each neighbourhood is organised as a self-governing unit, encompassing a war tower, a church, fortified dwellings, private streets, and “dark” meeting points, called “roúyes”.

manı war tower

With the mind’s eye, visualise the armed clashes fighting to defend their territory and rise to power. Decipher the code: The densely structured neighbourhoods and the characteristically high, stonework buildings express this fierce desire for control.

As history meets architecture, the starkness of the rugged landscape pampers our senses: ancient olive trees and wild, endemic, flowers grow on the slopes of the hill; imposing rocky mountains dominate the area; rough midnight blue sea reaches the shores; unexplored bays and sharp curves form Máni’s spectacular coastal scenery.

Excursions

You can go on a sightseeing excursions to Areópolis, the capital of Máni, where stone buildings are also renovated; to the Diros caves, a spectacular –and still unexplored– natural site, one of the earliest inhabited places in Greece; or to Yeroliménas, the tourist port of Máni. Further to the southernmost point of mainland Greece, Cape Taínaron is located; your spiritual quest will lead you here, to the cave of Hades, the god of the dead, and the ancient temple of sea god Poseidon. This memorable trip concludes with a visit to Gýtheion, and the isle of Kranái: here, the Tzanetákis-Grigorákis restored tower, symbol of the Greek War of Independence, hosts the Historical and Ethnological Museum of Mani.