Easter in the Wild Beauty of Mani

A land of wild, rugged beauty and rich history, Mani takes on a magical atmosphere at Eastertime. Here, local customs erupt with color and light.


The rugged and windswept landscape of Laconian Mani, with its stone tower-houses, shimmering blue sea, aromas of herbs and wildflowers, is the perfect backdrop to the solemn customs and traditions of Eastertime.

On Holy Friday, head to Karavostasi, where the candlelit procession of the Epitaphios (a decorated wooden bier representing the funerary bier of Christ) takes place beside the sea. Alternatively, choose the Church of Taxiarches at Areopoli, where the Epitaphios is carried through the narrow cobblestone streets to the accompaniment of a marching band. The same church is also a good choice for attending the Resurrection service late at night on Holy Saturday. The fireworks and firecrackers here are in greater number here than in other parts of Greece, as the sky above the stone-built church erupts with loud bangs and bright bursts of a color; an amazing spectacle.

Short and longer excursions

Most visitors come to the villages of Laconian Mani in summer for the beaches and sun. But spring, when temperatures are more friendly, is the ideal time to explore the settlements and nature. The villages are sparsely populated, with the exception of Areopoli, the main town of Inner Mani.

The settlement is laid out around the large square with the statue of Petros Mavromichalis, aka Petrobey, a famous Maniot commander in the Greek Revolution of 1821, and has been designated a conservation site on account of its traditional architecture and imposing tower houses. One of these, the Pikoulakis Tower (Kapetan Matapa, Areopoli, Tel. (+30) 27330.295.31, 08:30-15:30 daily except Tuesday), houses a small museum with a permanent exhibition titled “Stories of the Religious Faith of Mani,” presenting the development of religious belief in the region through a collection of historical finds, icons, books and inscriptions.

The coastal village of Limeni, which serves as Areopoli’s harbor, is another traditional settlement. Here you will find the historic tower-house of the Mavromichalis family, which today operates as a hotel (Mavromichalai). Castles, tower-houses and gorgeous locations with amazing views await discovery on foot, as you make your way along sweet-smelling spring paths.

From Karavostasi, follow the well-kept Kelefa footpath, which will take you to the ruins of the castle of the same name, built by the Ottomans in 1670. Another pleasing route leads from Areopoli to the village of Sotiras and, from there, to the chapel of Profitis Ilias.

 

If you prefer getting around by car, drive from Areopoli for 33km until you reach the village of Vathia, a collection of impressive tower-houses dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. The settlement has been abandoned, but the landscape of tall stone houses is one of the most characteristic in all Mani. 

Where to stay

Brazzo di Maina (Karavostasi Oitylo, Tel. (+30) 27330.531.13, from €118 per suite with breakfast). Five independent stone buildings set amidst olive trees, in a classic Maniot landscape. The suites, featuring stone vaulted arches and wooden ceilings, have modern décor and comforts. The premium suites offer a king-size bed, jacuzzi and private balcony with view.  

Korona Boutique Hotel (Oitylo, Tel. (+30) 27330.592.83, from €90 per double room with breakfast). Tucked away in the narrow streets of the traditional settlement of Oitylo, the hotel has five suites for two to five persons. Walls of stone, wooden floors, minimalist décor. The Executive Suite is the largest and is split on two levels. 

 

Manifest Boutique Hotel (Karavostasi Oitylo, Tel. (+30) 210.710.1612, from €126 per suite with breakfast). Standing on the hillside overlooking the sea and the coast road, the hotel offers 18 luxury suites, large and spacious, with a panoramic view, ideal for four to six persons. The décor is simple, with an attractive mix of earth tones, while many of the suites are also equipped with a fireplace.  

Akrolithi Boutique Hotel (Karavostasi Oitylo, Tel. (+30) 27330.531.12, from €126 per suite with breakfast). The hotel’s stone buildings house ten suites and three traditional apartments. The suites feature tasteful décor, handmade rugs, paintings by Greek artists and a private veranda with sea view, while some also have a jacuzzi. The apartments are equipped with fireplace and kitchenette, while one is split on two levels and has a loft. Breakfast includes Maniot products and authentic local flavors. 

Petra & Fos Boutique Hotel & Spa (Oitylo, Tel. (+30) 27330.540.50, from €135 per double room with breakfast). The hotel follows the patterns of local architecture, which calls for light-colored stone in the walls and vaulted arches. The double, triple and quad rooms offer all modern comforts, while in the two-level Loft Suite you will feel the space as your own personal haven. The Anerousa restaurant serves creative Greek cuisine inspired by the culinary tradition and fresh ingredients of the region. 

Porto Vitilo Boutique Hotel (Karavostasi Oitylo, Tel. (+30) 27330.592.10, from €110 per double room with breakfast). Standing in front of the beach at Karavostasi, rooms and suites with mountain or sea views. The accommodation includes family rooms that can sleep up to four guests. 

Achelatis Traditional Guesthouses (Areopoli, Tel. (+30) 27330.524.09, from €90 for two persons with breakfast). Just outside the village of Areopoli, amidst olive trees and prickly pears, the fully equipped, traditional stone residences offer independence, comfort and privacy. 

Kastro Maini (Areopoli, Tel. (+30) 27330.512.38, from €76 per double room with breakfast). Housed in an impressive stone building on the outskirts of Areopoli, the hotel offers comfortable, well-appointed rooms and suites ideal for couples, families and groups of friends. 

Areos Polis Boutique Hotel (Areopoli, Tel. (+30) 27330.510.28, from €80 per double room with breakfast). Situated close to the central square of Areopoli, the hotel’s 24 rooms and suites take decorative elements from the country aesthetic and are bright and spacious. Enjoy a coffee or meal in the Taratza roof garden.



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