Welcome to Elaionas Studios
We hope your stay here is like you have plan it, pleasant and with many relaxing moments.
In the next pages you can find information about places you can visit for recreation and sightseeing, along with historical data, general information, map, useful phones, etc.
From our side we wish you to have a joyful stay and we hope that this travel guide turns to be useful.
The director of Elaionas Studios
Mr. Evangelos Stavropoulos
Gytheio is a historical “town” and harbor in the north Peloponnese near the banks of the Evrotas river, west of beginning of the laconic gulf. Is the first most important harbor of the gulf and the second in south Peloponnese after Kalamata. The south edge of the city is united through a small pier with a small island. The ancient Kranai or Marathonisi where the tower of the Tzanetakis family is located. In the island of Kranai according to the myth, Paris spent the first night with Helen of Troy after she kidnapped her from King Menelaos of Sparta.
In Gytheio there are plenty of traditional taverns but also cafeterias and modern restaurants. You can also visit the charming beaches.
• Municipality office of Gytheio: (+30) 27330-22210
• Tourist office: (+30) 27330-22676
• Greek Tourist Organization in Gytheio: (+30) 27330-24484, 22271
• Police: (+30) 27330-22100, 22236
• Medical Station: (+30) 27330-22001-3
• Harbor Police: (+30) 27330-22262
• Gytheio chamber of commerce: (+30) 27330-22279
• Bus station: (+30) 27330-22288
Magic Sunset in Gytheio
The tower of Tzanetakis family in Kranai (now a museum)
Selinitsa Beach "Shipwreck" (Navagio)
Mystras was a Byzantine city in Peloponnese and is located 6 kilometers north-west of the city of Sparta. Today is in ruins, even though certain buildings are reconstructed like the palaces. It is a very valuable resource for the knowledge of history, art and civilization of the last two centuries of the Byzantine Empire. The story of the “Dead City” nowadays Mystras, begins in the middle of the 13th century AD when William II of Villehardouin completed the conquest of the Peloponnese from the Francs. The year 1249 William II of Villehardouin built his castle in the eastern side of Mount Taygetus in the top of a steep hill which was called Mystras or Myzithras.
After the Frankish defeat in the battle of Pelagonia in 1259, the castle of Mystras was handed over to the Byzantine Emperor Michael XII Palaeologus. From 1262 Mystras became the base of a Byzantine general and from this time on started the main historical era of Mystras which lasted for two centuries. From 1308 the administration system is changed and the general becomes permanent governor. In the middle of the 14th century Mystras becomes the capital of the Byzantine Peloponnese. This way the Despotate of Mystras is created. Skilled rulers, between them Constantine Palaeologus, later the last Byzantine emperor, contributed so Mystras extended his power over Peloponnese and become the cradle of the political and intellectual life of the empire as well the center of the regeneration of literature and arts.
Statue of Constantine XI Palaeologus Emperor of the Byzantine Empire in Mystras
Saint Demetrius Agios Dimitrios (Cathedral of Mystras) Built in 1310 with exceptional sculptures and frescos. In the church yard is the Metropolitan mansion, today the Mystras Museum.
In St. Demetrius Constantine XI Palaeologus was crowned as the last Emperor of the Byzantine Empire. In the center of the photograph you can see the place of the coronation.
The palace of the Emperor Constantine, fully restored included the hall of the throne, and open for visit.
The monastery of Pantanassa (female monastery), built in 1428 in which church is the best preserved monument. There are located the tombs of maiden, Cleopa Malatesta and of Theodora, wife of Emperor Constantine.
The Acropolis of Mystras built in the highest ground was an impregnable castle in which the resident could resort in a case of an attack.
Useful Phone Numbers
Sparta (capital) Mystras
• Tourist Police (+30) 27310 20492 • Municipality: (+30) 27310 22226, 81866
• Police (+30) 27310 82229 • Police: (+30) 27310 83315
• Bus agency (+30) 27310 26485 • Archaeological site – Museum:
• Hospital (+30) 27310 28671 (+30) 27310 83377
Monemvasia or Monovasia, known to the Francs as Malvasia is a small historic city of the eastern Peloponnese in the Province of Epidavros Limiras in the Prefecture of Laconia. Is mostly known by the medieval castle on top of the Monemvasia rock – "Vrachos tis Monemvasias", which is consisted by a small islet connecting with a bridge at a length of 400 meters with the modern city on the Laconian coast. In the preserved buildings in the castled are included many defensive constructions of the external castle and several small Byzantine churches.
Monemvasia is also called as the «Gibraltar of the east», since it happens to be in identical in a small scale with the Gibraltar rock
The Nobel price awarded poet, Giannis Ritsos was originated from Monemvasia, where his grave in located today.
The crucial position of Monemvasia in the sea ways to the eastern Mediterranean was a target for piracy raids in the next centuries, while also by enemy overlords. The peak of the city was high. After the 14th century except from the population increase which was mainly occupied with merchant and shipping, conditions were created of cultural and ecclesiastical growth in such grade that the year up to 1460 to be considered as the “golden age” of the city. The peaceful life of the city during the 14th and the first half of the 15th century were disturbed by pirate raid and internal clashes which though they haven’t affected the it’s historical course within the borders of the Despotate of Mystras.
Monemvasia is consisting by two settlements Gefira (Bridge) and Kastro (Castle).
The settlement is behind the rock of monemvasia in a distance of just 10 minutes on foot from the main castle gate. There are many hotels, rooms and apartments for renting. Also in a small distance from the settlement, there are two camping and many other places of accommodation.
In the settlement of Gefira you can also find banks, post office, bikes and motorcycles for renting, super markets, grocery stores, cellars, internet café, bakery stores, restaurants, cafeterias, drag stores and even disco. There are also many manufacture stores of the traditional monemvasian macaroon. In the settlement there is a medical station while the nearest hospital is in Molaoi
From Gefira to Kastro and vice versa under regular time intervals there is a municipal bus route.
Kastro is separated in ano poli “upper city” and kato poli “down” city.
There are many accommodation places, restaurants, cafeterias, and gift shops with public art products. You can visit the small streets only by foot since the ground elevation make the use of a car inside the castle impossible. Monemvasia is a living monument. Every corner is magnificent. You can also visit the house of the Nobel Prize awarded poet, Giannis Ritsos or to walk down to the see below the walls through portelo “little door”. In the central square of Monemvasia you can see the famous canon between the museum and the and the church of Christ also don’t miss to walk up to the church of St. Mary (Crhisafitissa)
It’s located in a height of 300m from the sea, offering a magnificent view. You can visit it only by foot from the Kato poli. You will find many ruins but also some very interesting buildings such as the gunpowder magazine and the church of Saint Sophia (identical to a small scale with the well know Saint Sophia of Constantinople) which is preserved in an excellent condition up to our days.
The Diros Cave (Glifada)
The Diros cave of Glifada or Vlichada is one of the most beautiful caves in thw world. It’s located in the west coast of the Laconic Peninsula in the bay of Diros in the Mucipality of Anatoliki Mani near Oitilo.
The existence of the cave was known to the local people since 1900 but no one was suspecting the miracle was hidden inside, until 1949, when the founders of the Greek Speleological Society, Giannis and Anna Petrochilou begin to explore it systematically. Until 1960 was explored and choreographed 1600 meters while today the known length of the cave exceed the 14 kilometers! The 1970 was the first underwater exploration.
The cave started to forming before hundreds of thousands of years. The drippers the today are located underwater were formed when the sea level was way to lower than today. The water is brackish and very salted. The temperature is about 14 ºC (57.2 ºF) while the air temperature is between 16 ºC to 29 ºC (60.8 ºF to 84.2 ºF)
The natural entrance had a diameter of only half a meter and it’s located very close to the sea level. In distant times the cave had also other entries which gradually closed.
Inside the cave have been located fossils of bones from panther, hyena, lion, deer, ferret, and the largest fossils depot of hippos in Europe. Near the natural entry ceramics have been found that suggest human presence.
The largest part of the tour are by boat. Open: Tuesday-Sunday 9:00-15:00, Monday closed.
Oitilo – Karavostasi – Areopoli
Oitilo is a very beautiful village located 7 kilometers northern from the historical capital of the Municipality of Anatoliki Mani, Areopoli. Oitilo took it’s name from the Greek mythological hero, Oitilo from Argos, son of Amfianaktas.
Oitilo is inhabited continuously from ancient times and the times of Homer until today. Specifically in the Homer’s Iliad Oitilo is mentioned as part of the kingdom of Menelaus, King of Sparta.
In 1700 the fleet of the Russian Admiral Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov anchored in Oitilo and together with the Mavromichalaioi family and the rest of Maniots started the 1700 rebellion (Orlofika). In the monastery of Dekoulou or Thekoulou was signed the relevant treaty.
The Russian Admiral Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov
Worth to be mentioned is the churches of St. George, the church of the Savior, Church of assumption of the St. Mary. Church of Taxiarches and the Ntekoulou Monastery with the most well preserved frescos.
Village next to the sea, headquarters and harbor of the Mavromichalis family. Maybe the most beautiful traditional settlement of Mani if there wasn’t the famous Vatheia, but Limeni combines the sea which is next to it and the beautiful landscape.
Going down the mountain’s slope, Limeni suddenly appears within a small bay, with the old stone houses, hanging from the mountainous slope and the few long cypresses. Next to it the sea, with the deep blue color, has a picturesqueness that rarely you can find it somewhere else. The turquoise sea water in the first meters are warm because are coming through the undercurrents below the rocks.
Limeni, the seaport of Areopoli, played an important role to the liberation cause of 1821 and there, you can visit the reconstructed four storey Castle tower of the Mavromichalis family with the arched windows. The Castle tower of the family, proves the development of the villages during the pre-revolution years is now used as a museum (Mpenakeio).
The castle tower of the Mavromichalis family (Mpenakeio Museum)
Place of the god of war Aris, or city of the winds (Aerides). Whichever case you choose for the derivation of the word for the gate of Mani, Areopoli it will be real. The summer though that the winds sweep the stone landscape probably the second one prevails.
The narrow street, the beautiful houses, old and new, which usually are built respecting the landscape, the two squares, one after another with the churches and the famous towers make this traditional village of 1.000 citizens most ambient especially the time of the sunset from the side of the Messinian gulf.
From here the visitor can move quickly north, to the Limeni and Oitilo or south to the Diros caves and to the cape Tainaro cape and enjoy the impressive summer melody of silence of Mani.
In Areopoli the first revolutionary groups were assembled and in March 17th 1821 raised the flag of the revolution. This flag is preserved in the National Historical Museum of Athens. The March 17th is a local national celebration holiday, and among others the is a representation of the Greek revolution.
The church of Taxiarches
Representation of the Greek revolution
• Medical Station: (+30) 27330-51259
• Police: (+30) 27330-51209
• Municipal office: (+30) 27330-51239, 60400
The new-built village that evolved with quick steps into a famous tourist resort.
The first name of the area was Potamos (River) from the river that was flowing through it but later was named Stoupa from the Stoupia (tows) that the residents were putting into the sea to get softened and can be more easily processed.
The two shallow, sandy and organized beaches with the crystal waters, attract visitors from all the places of the worlds. The variety of the landscape is unique. Jewels, true gifts of the nature, rivers, magnificent caves, small harbors, islets and the castle hill. The excursions to the neighboring areas are offering strong emotions while restaurants, taverns and café bars are covering gastronomically all tastes.
Beach of Stoupa
Kardamili is a impressive village next to the sea located in Mani. The area near Kardamili is defined in the tourist guides as the new Côte d'Azur. The scenery is impressively theatrical, full of contractions with crystal blue waters, large cypresses, wild olive tree fields, green slops and far distant mountains covered with snow, makes Kardamili one of the most beautiful villages with view to the calm sea and to the wonderful sunsets of the Messinian gulf.
Kardamili remains one of the most well guarded secrets of south Mediterranean. One exclusive, small, untouchable shelter, pride for his villas, the charming stone maisonetts, bloomed gardens, graphic harbor and fantastic beaches.
Panoramic view of Kardamili
Traditional towers in Mani
Mani is a historical area of Peloponnese that covers the Peninsula of Taygetus Mountain. Geographically the main Mani or “Mesa Mani” as it is named by the locals is set from the Sagia location in Taygetus and ends and the Cape Tainaron. The eastern Mani, “Anatoliki Mani” with view to the Laconian gulf and the Western Mani, “Ditiki or Ekso Mani” with view to Messinian Gulf.
According to archaeological researches in the area, Mani was inhabited from the Paleolithic ages. The findings the the Cave Apidima and the fossils of the “Tainarian Man” have increased vertically the scientific research for the area. We find mentioning about the cities of the area in Homer’s Iliad (Kardamili, Oitilo, Gytheio, Enopi etc)
The first inhabitants, according to the traveler Pausanias, were the Leleges, Followed by the Achaeans and the Dorians. For the next centuries the history of Mani followed that of Spart. In the Roman ages, was a special federation called “Koino ton Eleftherolakonon” In the Byzantine ages the residents of the area withdrawn to the mountains with the Arab Muslims spread the terror in the Greek coasts.
Later the Francs had a hard time to subdue the Maniots and the only thing that archived was to build three fortresses in the area, Passavas, Megalis Manis, and Lefktro to secure at least a typical control. After the fall of the Villehardouin princes. Mani was a part of the Byzantine Despotate of Mystras. The Frankish occupation of the Peloponnese in the 13th century brings to the mountains of Mani more refugees. The same times and the next years pirates also found shelter in the coasts of Mani.
After the occupation of Constantinople from the Muslim Turks, Mani became the center of important events. The May of 1460, the Turk Sultan Mohamed II invaded Peloponnese. By knowing about special characteristics of the Maniots, didn’t campaigned against them but tried to come to terms with their leader, Krokodilos Kladas, to have his supports in his expected was with the Venetians. The Maniots rejected his offer and joined forces the Venetians.
The Maniots fought against the Muslim Turks with every means they had in their possession. Mani was never subdued. Most of time, Mani was left independent under the rule of a Greek Bey with unique obligation to pay a tax of 4.000 piastres every year. This was never the case. Meanwhile the impregnable of the area made many residents of the Turkish occupied area to move to Mani.
The flag of Mani
In the cause of independence Mani offered much. The “Filiki Etairia” a secret society for the liberation of Greece. Considered Mani as the safest place to begin the revolution and the facts proved it was right. On March 17th 1821 in Areopoli. The elders of Mani and armed Maniots with leader the Petrobeis Mavromichalis were gathered. After the church service in front of the church of Taxiarches, raised the banner of the cause, the flag of Mani. The flag was white with a blue cross in the middle. On the top it was written the phrase «ΝΙΚΗ ή ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ» (Niki I Thanatos – (Victory or Death) and below the cross the phrase «ΤΑΝ ή ΕΠΙ ΤΑΣ» (Tan I Epi Tas – With your shield or on it – Moto of the Ancient Spartans).
There, declared war on the Ottoman Empire. For this reason their wrote on their flag «ΝΙΚΗ Η' ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ» (Niki I Thanatos – (Victory or Death) and not «ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑ Ή ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ», (Eleftheria I Thanatos – (Freedom or Death) because freedom for the Maniots was given. Revolution was done by the rest of the Greeks.
Very famous is the battle of Verga, were the Muslim Egyptian Ibrahim Pasha lost two thirds of his army, while was also defeated by the women of Diros. Defending themselves with swathes and wooden clubs foiled his attempt for landing in Mani.
After the heroic period of the 1821 revolution in the attempts of governor Ioannis Kapodistrias and the Bavarian King of Greece Otto, to reorganize in a single state all liberated areas, the Maniots resisted to be under the government of the Greek state protesting this way to the administration system that was implemented. This protest manifested even with arms and it’s peak was the assassination of the governor Ioannis Kapodistrias from Georgios Mavromichalis, son of the military leader and governor of Mani Petrobeis Mavromichalis. The last turmoil was in the years 1862-63 in the next years an attempt for compromise prevailed and Mani become peaceful.
Map of Mani
Map of Greece