By Giannis Saitas, architect, town planner, ethnologist
(From the presentation at the First Mani Congress, Piraeus 02.06.2001)
The man-made environment of the peninsula, shaped by long-standing processes and sealed by human effort for survival and independence, has been intertwined with the imposing natural geographical space in a rare, large-scale historical and aesthetic ensemble.
With a total area of 930 sq.km. and population, which from the 17th to the 20th c. ranged between 20,000 to 50,000 inhabitants, the peninsula was very densely populated. The dense network of 120 to 250 settlements mentioned by the statistics of the time, formed a peculiar and rare spatial organization.
In combination with the separate composition of the settlements, the architecture of the buildings and the plethora of monuments, the area stands out as a special and important unit in the national space. In the Peloponnese, apart from Mani, other similar places are Tsakonia and the mountainous settlements of the central hinterland.
Also, based on cultural and tourist resources, the Mani Peninsula is evaluated as a place of international prominence in the Peloponnese and is classified along with archaeological and historical sites such as Epidaurus, Nafplio and Mycenae, Olympia, Sparta and Mistras.
The rich cultural reserve of the peninsula includes many categories of works from the Paleolithic, Neolithic, ancient, medieval and modern periods. However, we must point out that locating, mapping, documenting, interpreting and publishing the findings on monumental wealth is not yet sufficient.
This limited knowledge and information of both the local population and the local and central authorities, as well as the Greek and international community, has as a result made difficult the efforts for the management and protection of the cultural goods as well as their limited participation in the development planning. . At the same time, many monuments are destroyed either by the wear and tear of time, or by ignorance and inability to save them, or by misguided human interventions.
Therefore, the recording, the documentation, the interpretation of the monumental wealth must be the subject of systematic interdisciplinary research programs, which with their publication will give a different image of the area and will allow the title of the "Open Museum" to be better realized. in recent years it is attributed to Mani.
On 13-2-2022 I visited Mani and cape Tainaro in Peloponesse, the southernmost edge of the Balkan peninsula. I was planing to photograph color seascapes, however as I was driving south, the dramatic light, the stone-builded settlements and the wild mountain scapes grapped my interest and traveled me in the past for a short of time. I present here a selection of BnW pictures from this trip.
The land of Mani is rocky and dry.
Mount Saggias in the background, the southern end of the mountain range of Taygetos
Mosaic of Roman baths, Cape Tainaro
Looking north from the edge of cape Tainaro
The lighthouse at Tainaro, was built in 1882 by French.
Ftom the path to Tainaro's lighthouse.
A treehouse, probably built by a shephered.
Old abandoned stone house.
Stone carved watering can.
Interior. The opening on the upper left leads to a terrace. The passage is very narrow and there is no staircase except recesses in the stone wall.
The lower part of the house. Probably used as a warehouse or animal shelter.
Tower in Flomochori, Εast Mani.
The rocky shore at Karavostasi.
Dusk in Trachila.
Panoramic view to the bay of Mezapos.
Panoramic view of Vathia.
The old settlement of Vathia with the background of Mount Saggias.
Another view of the lighthouse at Tainaro.
The south bay of Gerolimenas.
The towers of Mani are often built on rocky outcrops to provide better protection from intruders.