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The Mani


  The Mani sticks out like a finger from the central Peloponnese of Greece. It is a mountainous arid region where very little grows. Transportation connections are sporadic and for the most part the Mani is a very secluded part of Greece. As a result, the general population of Greece and many of the tourists tend to stay away from this rugged terrain. Which is very unfortunate because they are missing out on one of the most splendid parts of Greece and on some important Greek History.

  The topography of the Mani is essentially where a plate has pushed up a chunk of land in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. As a result, you have a high, coastal mountain range that drops strait down into some of the most beautiful water anywhere! It is trapped in a rain shadow from the north so it gets very little rain. A combination of rocky soil and no rain makes it a very arid region. A region as fierce and rugged as the Mani requires an aggressive, hardened soul. The people of this region have been given the reputation of harden survivors who are rough on the edges. Though not true, there is some truth behind this image.

  The people of Mani are said to be descendents of the original Spartans. As some settled in Mystra and others gave into the rule of invading forces, it is said that these people chose to live in this rugged landscape instead of being taken over. And these people are proud of the fact that no foreign power has ever ruled over this regionů.EVER!

  The region never fell to any of the foreign invaders (Byzantine, French, Persian, Turk or Venetian) that plagued the rest of Greece. Part of that fact was because the soil is so arid that it is hardly worth fighting over. But part of that fact is because of the makeup of the Mani. Feuds of Medieval Italy (such as in Romeo and Juliet or in San Gimiango) are nothing compared to the Mani blood feuds. Started over trivial things, these feuds would last for decades. Families would build huge towers. The taller the tower signified more wealth. But in reality, it was a strategic value as well. The families during the feud, the families would lock themselves in their towers and attempt to blow their opponents tower apart with cannon balls. No male member was allowed to leave the tower until the feud was over. Women would be allowed to leave to get food, or to bring in more cannon balls. When the Turks saw this, they decided to leave this area alone.

  This blood lust played an important part in Greek history. Though the noble families of Mani didn't like each other, they all had a strong sense of National Pride. During the war of independence, it was the people of this region that were among the first to volunteer to drive the Turks out. It is to this day considered an honor to have someone from Mani in your army regiment.


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Updated 12/31/99