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Mani – An overview

The southernmost peninsula of Greece, the MÁNI, stretches from Yíthio in the east to Kardhamýli in the west and terminates at Cape Ténaro. It is a wild landscape, an arid Mediterranean counterpart to Cornwall or the Scottish Highlands, with a wildly idiosyncratic culture and history to match. Perhaps because of this independent spirit, the sense of hospitality is, like nearby Crete, as strong as anywhere in Greece.

The Mani Peninsula (Greek: ΜάνηMánē), also long known by its medieval name Maina or Maïna (Μαΐνη), is a geographical and cultural region in Greece that is home to the Maniots (Mανιάτες, Maniátes in Greek), who claim descendancy from the ancient Dorians and Spartans. The capital cities of Mani are Gytheio and Areopoli. Mani is the central peninsula of the three which extend southwards from the Peloponnese in southern Greece. To the east is the Laconian Gulf, to the west the Messenian Gulf. The peninsula forms a continuation of the Taygetos mountain range, the western spine of the Peloponnese.

 

Until recent years many Mani villages could be reached only by sea. Today a narrow and winding road extends along the west coast from Kalamata to Areopoli, then south to Akrotainaro (the pointed cape, which is the southernmost point of continental Greece) before it turns north toward Gytheio. Another road, that is used by the public buses of the Piraeus – Mani line, which has existed for several decades, comes from Tripoli through Sparta, Gytheio, Areopoli and ends in the Gerolimenas port near Cape Matapan. Mani has been traditionally divided into three regions:

  • Exo Mani (Έξω Μάνη) or Outer Mani to the northwest,
  • Kato Mani (Κάτω Μάνη) or Lower Mani to the east,
  • Mesa Mani (Μέσα Μάνη) or Inner Mani to the southwest.

 

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