The prime feature of the strong, patriarchal Maniot groups was the tower that was used to control the area, defend their lives and property and support the expansive aspirations of the powerful landowners.
The towers of Mani –about eight hundred in total– never fail to impress, being amazing examples of the special architecture of Mani. Made of stone, they may reach 20 m in height and may be comprised of 3-5 floors. The use of local stone made the towers indistinguishable when seen from distance, protecting them mainly from pirates.
The construction of towers intensified between 1770-1830, while in the South it continued until 1880.
To defend or expand their land property, Maniot landowners were erecting the “xemonia”; buildings that were built on crossroads and other key locations in order to control the area around them and repel hostile attacks, in times of conflict. In times of peace and prosperity they were used as residential places and courtyards.
The Tainaron Blue Retreat is a representative sample of traditional xemonia. The tower is facing a similar construction, which had also been a strong fortified complex. Both together, they controlled the road to the area around Tainaron. The war tower was built on solid ground and rocks (known as “rizomies”) and it’s constructed on an almost square base whose sides are each about 5 meters. Like all defensive towers, a residence is located adjacent to it.
With their simple and austere beauty, the imposing towers of Mani resist the passage of time and offer a fascinating journey into the past!