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Kastania or Megali Kastania or Kastanitsa

COUNTY: Messinia MUNICIPALITY: West Mani

Clear
1.47ºC

Population

100 - 500

Distance from nearest city

10-35km

TL;DR

A mountainous village used as a bastion by anti-Ottoman insurgents thanks to its natural defence, with many Byzantine churches and a historical tower.

A mountainous village, built on an altitude of 700 metres on the foot of Taygetus, under the Mavrovouna peak. The village is 50 kilometres northeast of Kalamata, and is one of the oldest settlements of Mani. The name Kastania is first mentioned in a document dating back to 1278, when the area was under Venetian rule.

It used to be a bastion of the Klephts during the Turkish rule, the word meaning thieves in Greek, but they were anti-Ottoman insurgents carrying on a continuous war against Ottoman rule. The village sits on a naturally defended position, obviously chosen to hide and protect its residents from pirate raids, hidden among the peaks.

In the village is the tower-house of Captain Dourakis where Theodore Kolokotronis stayed for a month before he left for Zakynthos, so that he could escape the Turks who were hunting for him.

The village has the most Byzantine churches of all the villages of Mani, as well as one of the only two two-story churches of Europe. Noteworthy among them are Agioi Apostoloi (Saint Apostles); Agios Petros (Saint Petros) built in the 12th century; Agios Georgios (Saint Georgios), built in the 13th century; and Agios Ioannis (Saint Ioannis), built in the 11th to 12th century.