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Mani Peninsula
Vathia, Mani
Mani (or Maina) is the middle of the three peninsulas situated in the south Peloponnese. The centre is occupied by Kalavoulia or Kakovouna mauntains which are the continuation of Taygetos mountain range. The peninsula is dotted with many small villages, many of which are protected by towers.

Bay of Diros, western coast of Mani. The famous Diros Cave is situated below.
Mani was already inhabited in Neolithic ages and some evidences show the presence of Mycenean culture. The Dorians founded several city-states subjected to Sparta. After the decline of Sparta in the third century BC, they formed the Confederation of Free Laconians and was given independence by Augustus while the rest of Peloponnese was fell into the Roman domination.

Small church of Mani
Typical small church in Mani

The Maniots remained pagans until the age of Basil I (867-886). From the 10th to the 12th century, however, many churches were built, which is also a sign of the prosperity in this epoque. The Cursaders occupied it in the middle of the 13th century, but when the Byzantines recovred it, prosperity returned. When the Slav invaders came down, the Mani increased its isolation. The Maniots formed clans and built towers to protect their households. They were known for the strong spirit of independence and even the Ottomans could not completely conquer the region which was given virtual autonomy in exchange for the tributes and the powerful chieftain was given the title of Bey of Maina. When the war of independence started, the Maniots eagerly participated to the Greek cause and the Mani became one of the principal centre of Kleftes movement. Petrobey (Petros) Mavromichalis, a hero of the Greek war of independence, came from Mani.


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