tall stone towers of Mani as symbols of guard and freedom stay against
the limestone landscape of Mani. They guard the family’s honor,
traditions, hospitality as well as the customs of Mani.
Towers of Mani
About 800 towers are scattered all over Mani, they are found
everywhere in villages, mountains, on seashores. These monuments of folk
architecture reflect the social and historical conditions of the Maniot life.
Some stone towers were many-storeyed, they are 20 meters high
and have from 4 to 5 floors. They were used as residences and courtyards that
were surrounded by walls. The towers were very carefully planned and were used
not only as residential places but as military objects for protection. They were
equipped with loopholes, boilers for water and special places at tower corners
for throwing stones at enemies.
From time to time
pirates, Turks and other enemies tried to
occupy Mani, but all their attacks were in vain. Towers were also used as hiding
and attacking places during different conflicts and clashes caused by vendetta.
Due to towers Mani managed to save its freedom and independance.Ιt was a
free place in enslaved Greece and many plans and decisions for the liberation of
our Motherland were taken in these towers.
Western travellers used to compare the Maniot towers with
towers and fortresses of Medieval Europe, of England and Scotland.
The height of a tower depended of the importance and
significance of the family that lived in it. It was not a single case when a
powerful family would not allow another family to build an equally high tower
and in case that such tower had already been built they would force them either
to low it down or to destroy it completely.
It was a duty of every Maniot to defend any member of the
Usually different families of one kin lived in the same neighborhood. A whole
kin was involved in the construction and defense of a tower. A tower couldn’t
be inherited by a woman. In certain cases it would pass to a closest male in the
kin. Such ceremonies as weddings, births of children, baptizing and other
celebrations as well as weeping over a deceased took place inside a tower. Old
towers were built without plaster and were easily destroyed during often
Beginning from the 18th century towers turned into real
fortresses since lame plaster was used for their construction and their corners
were strengthened with slabs.
Both Michael Paleologus in 1415 and Bavarian Regent Maner in
1834 tried to raise the towers to ground, but their attempts failed.
The construction of towers lasted until almost the end of the
19th century and stopped when the state administrative system
gradually replaced the local patriarchal customs.
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