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$9.22 Tours & Sightseeing

Inner Mani: The Defiant Tower Houses self-guided mobile tour

Inner Mani: The Defiant Tower Houses is dedicated to the so-called “aposkieri” (“sitting in the shade”) Mani. This is the part of the peninsula that faces west, towards the Gulf of Messenia and is richly endowed with a history full of battles and campaigns for the control of its strong castles.The tour begins in Itilo, the northernmost settlement of Inner Mani. Last refuge of many notable Byzantine families who tried to maintain contact with the Christian West during a period of rapid Ottoman advances, it was also home to the Great Festival of Love, established by the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaeologus in order to stop the constant conflicts and killings between the powerful families of the area. The settlement of Limeni was created by the noble family of the Mavromichali who chose this isolated location because it offered security and the ability to supervise the whole area. Legend has it that the Mavromichali family descended from fairies but Petrobey Mavromichali rose to become a sort of independent ruler of Mani with absolute power, a large army and impressive wealth.Τhe jewel of the tour is the complex of 18 caves centered on Diros Cave, discovered by accident at the end of the 19th century. They extend all the way to the southernmost tip of the Mani peninsula, Cape Tainaro and bear traces of life from 4800 BC. Tools, utensils, weapons, animal and human bones indicate that they were used as shelters and storage areas during the Neolithic era. The cave of Alepotrypa nearby was discovered in 1958 by a group of hunters who were after a fox. Recent excavations brought to light the double burial of a young couple in an embrace dating back to 3800 BCE.  To take this self-guided tour you will need the app on your iOS or Android device.HIGHLIGHTSSee the castle of Kelefa that dominates the bay and allowed the local pirates to gain such strength and fame that Itilo was named "Little Algiers”.Visit the Taxiarches church in Areopoli whose exterior decoration exhibits clear pagan influences (the zodiac).Explore Pikoulaki Tower, a fine example of the local tower-houses whose martial infrastructure served to protect the area’s powerful families.Enter the cave of Alepotrypa, where a major earthquake in 3200 BC suddenly blocked the exit causing all the people who lived there to starve to death.