Places to go, Inner Mani
The Inner Mani is the part of the Mani peninsula that starts south of Oitilo.
If you follow the route of the villages described below you will have a great day out!
Driving south you will notice a big difference in the scenery. Where the Outer Mani is relatively green, the further south you go, the more stark and empty the landscape will get. You will also see a lot of tower houses.
When driving down from Stoupa you will pass Areopoli, capital of the Mani and named after Ares, the god of war. Areopoli may not look like much from the main road but it is worth a stop.
The village is lively and its tower houses have been lovingly restored. Above the doors of the beautiful church of Taxiarhes you will see unusual reliefs of feuding archangels and signs of the zodiac.
Pirgos Dirou caves
11 km's south of Areopoli are the Pirgos Dirou Caves. You will see some tower houses on your way there.
The caves were inhabited in Neolithic times, abandoned after an earthquake and rediscovered in 1895.
One of the caves, the Vlychada cave, can be visited. It is a special cave because a large part of it is filled with water. You will be guided around the cave by boat, in a sort of gondola that is pushed with a large pole.
What we particularly like about this cave is that the guide doesn't tell you about "the statue of liberty" etc etc but that you get to see the cave in serene quiet. Most of us know about stalagmites and stalactites, so now you can just absorb the surroundings.
Another added bonus on a hot summer's day is that it is lovely and cool inside! You may even want to bring a sweater. Something else to bring when you go into the cave is your swimgear and maybe a picknick. Because when you leave the cave (inside the park), just about where the heat hits you, you will see a small pebble beach with perfect blue water calling your name.
October - May: 08.30-1500
June - September: 08.30-17.30
Tel: 00-30-27330-52222 or 00-30-27330-52223
This small fishing village (right) is a nice place to stop for lunch.
Vathia (left) is the now largely uninhabited village that you see on almost all postcards of the Inner Mani. The village is surrounded by barren mountains, looks out over the sea and is made up almost entirely of tower houses. Very dramatic and great to do some exploring.
If you are driving all the way south to Cape Tenairon then Porto Kagio (right) is also a great place to stop for a meal or a drink. Its bay is a beautiful natural harbour, maybe 10 houses and a few tavernas. To the right of the harbour is a small footpath to a statue. If you continue on the footpath it will take you to the little church at the head of the bay. The view around you with nothing but the sea really makes you feel like you have come to the end of the world.
Now the real end of the world, or rather Europe, is at Cape Tenaron. Park your car below and you can visit the small sanctuary and death oracle of Poseidon in front of you. If you continue on towards the cape you will pass some old settlements and even an old mosaic (left). From there you can just continue South along the footpath to the lighthouse.
After you have been to Cape Tenairon you will have to decide how to drive back to Stoupa again. The shortest route is to simply return the way you came. If you're up for more you can drive home following the east coast of the Inner Mani peninsula. It will take longer but is spectacularly different from the west coast. More greenery, small winding roads, lots of small villages just above the sea and built up against the mountains.
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