The Mani, the middle finger of the Peloponnese, is a unique area of overwhelming beauty. The visitor encounters a wild, sometimes inaccessible nature, steep mountains, quiet beaches, impressive caves and the unique “towers of the Mani” (built by the proud and stubborn inhabitants, who were difficult to suppress, but also constantly at odds with each other), the many 12th and 13th century churches with beautiful frescoes (unfortunately usually locked), the enormous Frankish fortress of Mezapos and the oracle of the dead of Poseidon Hippios on Cape Tainaron (Matapan).
A visit to the Mani can best be started in Areópolis, a town that was once called Tsimóva. The town was renamed – after Ares, the god of war – because it was considered as the place where the War of Independence started. It has a small museum that is a must for anyone who wants to visit the numerous churches of the Mani, such as the Agia Barbara. Close to Areópolis there are also the famous stalactite-caves of Pyrgos Dírou (photo right).