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article imagePhoto essay: Vathia, the tower houses of Mani, Greece Special

By Katerina Nikolas     Mar 19, 2013 in World
Deep in the Greek Mani an astonishing village of crumbling tower houses stands atop a barren hill overlooking the sea, a must see Greek treasure. The towers were home to feuding clans of brave Maniots who refused to succumb to Ottoman rule.
Maniots built the fortressed tower houses of Vathia to defend themselves against attacks from marauding invaders, pirates and their own neighbours. Amidst the barren landscape Maniot clans were embroiled in bitter family vendettas, nailing the severed heads of their enemies to the tower house walls. Yet they banded together to fight against invaders and suspended neighbourly clan feuding during harvest time, whilst engaging in their own sport of piracy.
Although several of the towers have been restored and are occupied, plans to restore the village as a tourist draw were abandoned in the 1990's. Today visitors can walk the time strewn paths between the towers, exploring the ruins.
A centuries old stone olive oil press remains intact in one of the abandoned rooms.
Old olive oil press  Vathia
Old olive oil press, Vathia
A wonderfully ornate wood carving remains intact by the olive press.
Wood carving in olive oil press  Vathia  Greece
Wood carving in olive oil press, Vathia, Greece
The lush landscape of the southern Peloponnese and the inviting village of Limeni are now only a short drive away from the once remote and inaccessible village of Vathia.
The tower houses of the Mani remain a secret treasure of mainland Greece. History buffs will delight in Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor's account of staying overnight in a Mani tower in his wonderful book "Mani."
More about Vathia, Mani tower houses, Pirates, Patrick Leigh Fermor, Maniots
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