The Laconic Mani, a region full of History and Myths, introduces a place that attracts travelers from all over the world and captivates them with its noble characteristics and its island-like features.
Gythion stands as the ideal base for excursions to the Historic Mani and it is also a great destination for vacation on its own!
A destination for the romantic ones but also for those who seek the opportunity to leave the everyday life behind them, change their habits and have new experiences!
Nowadays we can learn how this town took its name from the stories of the great traveler of the ancient world, Pausanias. According to myth this is the place where Hercules and Apollo collided but neither prevailed in battle, so people decided to honor both. That is how the name Gytheion/Gythion results from the words “γη των θεών” meaning the Land of Gods. North of the town, on the hills there are still ruins of the acropolis to prove that there, used to exist the ancient town of Gythio!
Gythion is build amphitheatrically on the hillside of Larisio, in such way that the blue color of the sea reflects on the neoclassical buildings providing a special glamour to the whole scenery.
The harbor and its waterfront are the meeting point of the town! The place where one has the chance to relax at a cafeteria or an “ouzeri” tasting traditional drinks and dishes with the magnificent sea view and its waves… or on the other hand, someone could take an afternoon walk at the waterfront, enjoying the golden colors of the sunset.
Following the waterfront to its end you will find a really special place, the Kranai islet or also known as Marathonisi. This was the first shelter that hosted Helen’s and Pari’s love, the first night on their way to Troy. Crossing the islet, you’ll meet St. Peter’s church, but the main attraction here is the Tower of Tzanetakis Grigorakis (chieftain of the Greek Revolution), built at 1829, stands as a landmark of Mani’s architecture. It also serves as a museum of History and Ethnology. At the other side of the islet there is the Lighthouse, standing like sentinel… Form this point you’ll get a beautiful panoramic view of the town!
North of Gythio, at the entrance of the town, the ancient Romanian theatre is located, a reminder of the time when the town belonged to the Community of the Free Laconians. During summertime the theater is used for a variety of cultural events, mainly theatrical shows.
In a small distance south of Gythio, the Goulades Castle is located. It used to be the castle-house of Tzanetos Grigorakis, bey(governor) of Mani, that was destroyed by the canons of the Turkish fleet.
For those who love visiting museums a must visit place is the Cultural Centre Of the East Mani Municipality, a modern city museum about Mani’s history, cultural inherence and its people. It is hosted at the Old Girl’s School on the central square of Gythio!
The lacy beaches…
Just a breath away from the city you will find the Selinitsa beach, well known for the Dimitrios shipwreck on its shore. Shallow and sandy, this beach is awarded with a blue flag (great water quality) and it’s ideal for family trips! Get the chance to visit the shipwreck and take up-close photographs that’ll amaze your friends! Be mindful and careful on your visit here because it is likely to see nests of the famous Caretta-Caretta sea turtle, since the whole area is one of the few places in the Mediterranean Sea where they lay their eggs!
Visit the vast, sandy shore of Mavrobouni which extents for 6klm and enjoy the light-blue and crystal-clear waters! For those with a passion for sports, especially windsurfing and kitesurfing, this is the perfect destination due to the winds at the area!
Just about 6klm away of the town there is the Vathy – Ageranou beach, large beach covered with sand, surrounded with trees! One of the best beaches of the Laconic Mani!
Tours at Mani!
The prefecture of Mani has a really strong, rough and rocky characteristic beauty! Steep rocks, winding roads over the turquoise sea, towers on the mountain tops, graphic villages and many stories with pirates and treasures!
Must visit places:
Areopolis, erected on the foothills of Mt. Agios Ilias, has been renounced as a protected and preserved settlement for its unique Maniot architecture and its distinctive scenery! On the first sight it manages to impress every visitor with its timeless characteristics, the paved alleys and the tower houses!
The Tower Town of Vatheia gives the visitor the feeling of a travel in time! It is one of the most photographed settlements built on a hill, standing as real-life museum!
Food and local products
At the picturesque villages of Mani, you’ll find excellent tavernas to try fresh sea food, traditional pies, fine meats, cooked in ways that will create a different tasting experience that will travel with you as a loved memory! Of course, some of the elegant products used in the traditional cuisine are offered separately in the city markets so that you can bring them back with you. Some of those are: olive oil, olives, honey, pasteli (sesame and honey bars), rusks, siglino (smoked ham), various herbs, local herbs for beverages and sea salt collected from the folds of the rocks!
The traditional Maniot nutrition is known to have many benefits and contributes to the maintenance of a strong and healthy body!
Siglino is produced here for many generations from the local families, traditionally by the male members of the family. It is made by cutting the meat in stripes and smoking it with various herbs, boiling it with oranges and spices and later storing it in olive-oil or fat. It began as a way of conservation of the meat for a long time and it is known today as a versatile traditional food. Visitors can taste recipes with siglino in local taverns and restaurants (with eggs and fries, legumes, frumenty and many more) and buy it in the local market!
One of the finest varieties of olive oil in the world! People here have a deep connection and love for the earth and especially the olive trees, as it became to be their main local product. So, every October and November they gather and collect the olives with their hands, that means the traditional way! This aspect contributes a great amount on the quality of olive oil along with the fact that the local producers follow one of the first biological programs of Europe, without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
Another notorious product of the Maniot earth is honey, basic ingredient for sesame bars/pasteli, produced here since antiquity. The aroma of the local flowers invests honey with a noticeable character. Local producers continue to provide us with it at the traditional market of Gythio.
Spending time in Gythio means you can’t miss a visit at its tavernas and restaurants. Try a variety of dishes such various pies with local herbs and vegetables, “pitaria” as pita bread crispy backed, served with local cheeses, and of course lupins, a kind of seed that has fed many generations, it doesn’t need fertile soil and has high protein content(44%), magnesium, calcium and phosphorus!
Hiking Taigetus: Around the town of Gythio there are many routes offered for walking and to discover the beauty of this place. An important fact is that the European Mountaineering Path E4 crosses the area, it starts at Tarifa in Spain, crosses Europe, until it enters Greece to end in Cyprus. As it enters Laconia, it goes through Sparta, Mystras, up the mountain Taigetos and ends at Gythio! From the point of Kastania it comes across many settlements, caves, forests, rivers etc, until it reaches Gythio. The best time of the year to walk the trail is at Spring and at Autumn, even though due to the mild climate of the area it can be walked through all year long. Remember to always follow the yellow-black signs of E4 and carry with you the right equipment!
Diving: The crystal sea of Laconia and its reach water bottoms are offered for those who love diving! There are many schools for diving, even though in many areas free diving with or without oxygen tanks is allowed. Don’t miss the chance to gaze upon the prehistoric settlement that got sunk at Pavlopetri!
For the lovers of sea sports there are ideal wind conditions for windsurfing and kitesurfing, and for many other sea sports at the beaches all around Gythio.