Tigani or Mainis Fortress

COUNTY: Laconia MUNICIPALITY: Monemvasia


Century of Construction


Architectural Style


Current Condition

Bad Condition

Entry Fee

Free Entrance

This fortress was, in fact, a small Byzantine town located, according to one version, at Tigani cape in Mezapos bay in Mani. You can access it from Agia Kyriaki village. It is the oldest fortress in Mani, built under the rule of emperor Justinian. The fortress became a major military and religious center and contributed to the administrative reform of Mani. It may have been used until 1570.

Tigani is a narrow strip of land, 1,700m, and the fortress was constructed at a naturally fortified site: a steep round boulder washed by the sea. This incredible fortress had survived many enemy attacks from Vandals, Crusaders, Arabs, Slavs and Turks. Its other name is Mainis, from the Mainis See, according to several scholars.

Truth be told, no one knows the exact position of this fortress. Many identify it with the historical Frank fortress, constructed by Villehardouin in 1248 on an imposing rock in the port, as is described in the book “Chronicles of The Morea”. But, in Tigani there is no such port and the ruins of the fortress in question do not date from the Venetian empire, so many scholars reject this theory.

Today, the numerous cisterns, as many as the days of the year, still exist, as well as, a wall with its tower on the west and vestiges of an ancient wall of cyclopean masonry. The best preserved part of the fortress is east with apparent byzantine features. Ruins of Byzantine churches and traces of the Mainis necropolis are also visible. On the east end there are also ruins of a 7th century three-domed church, Hodegetria or Agetria church, which apparently was sumptuous in these days.

West of the cape, there is a horseshoe trace called by the inhabitants of the region “the princess’ carpet”. According to another legend, this is where an orphan princess threw herself into the sea, sacrificing her life to help her compatriots during a great attack. Most archeologists locate the ancient city of Messa or Messi in Tigani.