The Mani and the home of Hades

Today, the Mani Peninsula had to be discovered! We drove most of the way and hiked the last part to the cape, where Greek legend placed the home of Hades.

Mani is the central peninsula of the three which extend southwards from the Peloponnese. The landscape is dry and mountainous. Not so long ago access to the villages was only by sea, nowadays, a good road leads there.

The Mani Peninsula is home to the Maniots, who claim descent from the ancient Spartans. They are an ethnic group which had a reputation as fierce and proudly independent warriors, who practised piracy and fierce blood feuds.  Ancient tower houses are the typical architecture of the Mani. Every village consist of a couple of these towers.
Tower houses @ Vathiá
Recently abandoned tower ?

This village has only few inhabitants but some of the towers are being restored, and some are even in use again, mostly as holiday homes.

Driving south through the Mani

Cape Tenaro was the site of the ancient town Tenarus, nearby was a cave that Greek legends claim was the home of Hades, the god of the dead. The ancient Spartans built several temples there, dedicated to various gods. On the hill situated above the cave, lie the remnants of an ancient temple dedicated to the sea god Poseidon. Under the Byzantine Empire, the temple was converted into a Christian church.

Remains of a mosaic floor of one of the houses

Cape Tenaro can only be reached after a 45-minute walk. It is the southernmost point of mainland Greece, and the second southernmost point in mainland Europe after Tarifa in Spain.

The Californian, the ship that warned the Titanic of its dooming icebergs, sank at Cape Tenaro in 1915 after being torpedoed by the German fleet. The wreck of the ship was not found until today. Maybe because the Mediterranean is very deep here. The Calypso Deep with a maximum depth of 5,267 m is not far from here.

A main route for ships coming from Piraeus, Istanbul and the Black Sea leads past the cape. I love to identify them with an App called Marine Radar, which tells me the name, what type of ship it is, under which flag it sails, where it comes from and where it goes to.

At the Temple of Poseidon, visitors devote strange things from cigarettes and lighters to pictures and letters. Maybe it is considered a place where you can connect with the dead, as there was a death oracle in ancient times?

Looking back to Cape Tenaro
This plant forms round bushes which dot the landscape
Typical Mani village
Flower of the Day

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