In Mani of the 800 towers and the 7 castles, and the Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches exceeding 1,000, “Areopolis’s” neighborhood stands as a small sample of this historical and indiscriminate land. It’s well known that the best seasons for a visit to the region are spring or autumn. We went in the midst of summer, of course, with a bit of heat but it was worth it!
Areopolis (Tsimova), built at a hub, is a necessary passage for those who are touring “Mesa Mani”. An established traditional settlement, as well as most of the Mani settlement, with abundant stone mansions and high towers, having survived up to this day. A 3days stay doesn’t seem enough to discover the beauties of the area!
The old fortified settlement with its stone cobbled streets, the Byzantine churches and mystical towers is the most atmospheric part of the town! Walk around and immerse in the history of the place. Search for the fortresses of “Mavromichalion”,” Pikoulaki” (today’s Byzantine museum – tel. 2733029531, (http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/1/gh155.jsp?obj_id=18381),” Barelakou” and “Kapetanakou” (now a guest house) and if you have time, visit the private “War Museum” that is hosted in Tsimova Hostel.
From the new square of “Athanasios” with the statue of “Petrombei Mavromichalis” and the Church of Agios Nikolaos, Athanasios, take the road down to the medieval core of Areopolis, the “Tsalapianika”. At first pass by the square of Moararchos Panagiotis Niarhakos, where is the double temple of Panagia and Ag. Charalambous with the folk frescoes of 1869. Cross the central paved alley (Captain Matapas) and find yourself in the historic square “17th of March”. There, in the “Taxiarches temple”, with the magnificent bell tower, where the flag of Mani was blessed and the first revolutionaries under the leadership of Petrombei Mavromichalis were raised, the Manies were congregated before swearing “Victory or Death” in 1821. At the other end of the square there is a stone well and just behind it, a 180-year-old traditional wood-burning oven, probably the oldest of the Peloponnese! It’s called “Mrs. Milia”. Try its traditional delicacies! Continue the road to the right and follow the signs, and after 10 minutes’ walk through the olive groves reach the Cafe-Bar “Spilius” for a unique sunset with incredible views of the Messinian bay. (You can also go by car, of course)
Try traditional Manic recipes! Pork in all its forms (turkey, sausage, pasta) is included in the menu of most restaurants in N. Laconia. Also look for the handmade pasta, accompanied by local “mizithra” cheese, and the wild greens (almonds, wild boar, shagtzikia etc.), which are eaten cooked, smoked or crushed, the lamblings (dill strips folded like snail and fried) (Pork smoked, then smoked and then boiled in orange).
WHERE TO EAT
“Barba Petros Tavern”,on the central paved road (Kapetan Matapas). We ate pork with local noodles, salad with grated cheese and burgers on the grill. Everything was delicious and the € 31 bill a good price (they reluctantly handed us our receipt) Tel. 2733051205.
Tsipouradiko “Mavromichalaiiko”. Right across “Barba Petros” Tavern, hosted in a traditional 1818 building. We saw a lot of people and big portions on the tables every time we were passing by.
Everything changes in the evening! Lights transform the alleys, people go out on the streets and you feel like you are part of a movie setting! Now is the right time for coffee / sweet or even better a drink in the most picturesque bars you’ve seen. Snuggle into a corner at the “Bucca” bar and enjoy beautiful music and a lot of people-watching (8,50 € / cocktail)
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed in Areopolis, in the Trapela Guesthouse, (http://www.trapela.gr/?lang=en) in the “Porto Cayo” Room, 3 people for 90 € which was absolutely spend worth it (with A / C, TV and fridge/ breakfast included) . From the breakfast buffet we tried, among other things, locally “travichtes”(stretched) pies, greens pies and omelettes with sigklino, a local deli meat. Tel. 2733052690, 2733051370 & 6942976351.
Friends stayed at the same time and suggested us Hotel “Antaris”, just outside Areopoli. A complex of stone-built restored houses, featuring 12 rooms (double, triple and suites – studios), all with autonomous heating, TV, A / C, wi fi internet, fridge and sea view. Only for couples!!! Haha!! Prices: 90 € – 165 €. An a la carte breakfast is served. See also here (http://antareshotel.gr/). Tel. 2733051700 & 698948840
WHAT TO SEE IN THE AREA
The famous Limeni
From the northern entrance of Areopolis, a road descends to Limeni. Bond with the Mavromichalides family who were born here (their tower has become a luxurious hotel today) is one of the most beautiful settlements, with the restored tower houses springing up on the slope, with tavernas over the blue-green waters that seem to be testing your reactions, just at the moment you first set your eyes on them! Head to the left to take a swim on the rocky, paradise beach with the turquoise lagoon waters and then go straight to the famous tavern of Takis nearby! That’s what we did! We ate fresh, tasty fish. If it’s peak time, reserve a table earlier! (Tel. 2733051327)
The road continues to the beach of N. Oitylou (or Karavostasi), 3 km below. It’s not ideal for swimming if you are looking for a sandy beach. It’s pebbled but the sea is fine, with sand as soon as you are in. Also here are newly built guesthouses, beach bars (“Guaba”, umbrella with an order of 5 €) and very nice taverns for seafood (“Karavopetra” tavern). Further on is old Oityllo. A beautiful and historic village, built far from the beach at an altitude of 250m. To be protected from raids by pirates. It has been inhabited ever since Homer’s years and until today it is one of the few privileges in the area that enjoy the shade of olive trees. Look for “Dekoulou” Monastery in the lower neighborhood with its rare frescoes and the more paradoxical in the central church depicting Christ Pantocrator at the center of the zodiac circle.
Back to Areopolis to follow a south course. Don’t leave without visiting “Diros” and the famous cave of “Vlychada”. A magical journey to nature’s amazing creation! The route by boats (7 passengers/boat), takes about three quarters of which 1,200 m is boating in “halls” with stalactites and stalagmites of incredible colors and shapes of unique beauty and the rest 300 m walking in an equally impressive section of the cave. The voice of the boatman informing us now and then about the names of the halls or the specificity of the formations as the boat passes through the crystal volumes under the water and over the passengers’ heads, couldn’t bring us back in reality as long as the boat sails on the water, in the semi-darkness. But also the exit from the cave, on the hill overlooking the bay of “Diros”, complements the exciting experience! Whoever wants can dive into the crystal clear waters!
The cave has high traffic and you may have to wait for hours if you choose peak times. Choose morning hours to avoid queues. The ticket costs 13 € /adult and 8 € /children (under 18 ). Opening hours at the end of July: 8.00 to 18.00 (see: Cave Vlychada, Diros Lakonia Tower, Tel. 27330.52.222-3)
The air temperature in the cave varies from 160 to 190 C. You may need a jacket.
Be careful with your movements inside the boat. Have your hands clasped and watch your head. Do not touch any of the rocks!
From Areopoli for …
|Karavostasi||8 km||12 minutes|
|Limeni||5 km||8 minutes|
|Drum Tower||7 km||8 minutes|
|Cave Vlychada Diros||10 km||14 minutes|
|Sparta||72 km||1 hour|
|Kalamata||83 km||1 hour & 30 minutes|
|Athens||273 km||3 hours & 20 minutes|
|Gythio||25 km||30 minutes|