A peek into the abandoned village of Vathia.
<p>(by Guillén Pérez CC BY-ND 2.0, Flickr)</p>
Ever since ancient Greece, there has been a wilderness in the region that has not suffered the invasions of conquering peoples. This land is called Mani, the peninsula that forms the continuation of the Taigetos mountain range, the central spine of the Peloponnese.
Mani peninsula (by Al-Qamar Wikimedia Commons)
The community that settled there, called Maniots (Mανιάτες, Maniátes, in Greek), is known for a long history of proud autonomy and strong attachment to Spartan culture and ancient traditions. However, what distinguished the Maniots was a peculiar and notorious involvement in piracy. The Maniots were famous and feared pirates whose ships ruled the coasts of the southern Peloponnese. The origins of the vocation for piracy can be traced back to the poverty of the land’s natural resources. Today, one can observe the ancient villages, sometimes still inhabited, characterised by tower houses that formed complex structures. Each family built its tower to protect itself from savage feuds. Over the centuries, none of the ‘occupying powers’ succeeded in subduing the Maniots: they always remained free, wild, unpredictable and in perpetual dispute with each other.
(by Elkanell, CC BY-SA 4.0 Wikimedia Commons)