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abandoned Areopoli beach bell tower boat bougainvillea Cape Matapan castle cave church Diros factory flag fresco Greece lighthouse Mani memorial Mezapos olive oil Peloponnese Relief statue underground Vathia Vlychada Cave watchtower
The Mani is a wild rugged region in southern Peloponnese. We stayed at the capital Areopoli with it's statue of Petrobey Mavromihalis (a hero of the War of Independence) in the town square, cobbled streets, old stone houses, churches with frescoes, including the church of Taxiarches. Vlychada caves at Diros has history going back to Paleolithic and Neolithic times. The caves were places of worship and believed to be the entrance to the underworld. We went on an incredible journey by punt and foot through an underworld of eerily lit caves and narrow passages full of stalactites and stalagmites. We visited Gerolimenas and Mazopos Bay, sheltered by the Tigani (frying pan) and walked to little Byzantine church of Vlacherna. We explored the fortress village of Vathia now mainly a ghost town of abandoned tower houses. At the tip of The Mani we walked the trail passed the Roman ruins to the lighthouse on Cape Matapan (Tenaro), the most southerly point mainland Greece.