At the heart of Laconian Mani, Vathia (Vatheia) strongly resists the passage of time offering a journey into the past where its residents defended the prospective intruders entrenched in their imposing defensive tower houses.
Vathia is one of the most impressive traditional villages and certainly the most photographed throughout Mani.
The settlement of Vathia suddenly pops up from one of the road turns, like a citadel built on a hilltop and is just 2 km from the sea offering magnificent views to the Mediterranean.
The towers of Vathia
The entire settlement, is considered a monument of the region’s architectural heritage of the 18th and 19th centuries, during which most of Vathia’s towerhouses were built. The towers are unique examples of folk fortification around the Greece.
The known towers were made with two or three floors of stone buildings, in other parts of Mani may have more floors, which have very small characteristic windows. These were mainly used as embrasures behind which the family and defenders of the tower fought against invaders like the Turks or even pirates.
Moreover, many had machicolations from which scalding oil or water was thrown over the main door when invaders tried to breech defense. The presence of such towers build very closed, even attached, to each other was enough to create an impregnable wall of protection that in the time became the specter of any would-be conqueror.
The Vathia the 20th century
During the 20th century, however Vathia was hit an enemy that proved to be stronger than previous attackers and that transformed Vathia into a ghost settlement since all of its residents had abandoned it.
Urbanization drove Vathia’s habitants in big cities but fortunately thanks to the efforts of the Greek Tourism Organizetion (GTO) and the restoration of several tower-houses during the 80’s, to be offered and used for tourist accommodation as guest houses, some things managed to remain intact.
This movement not only saved some ramshackle or in relatively in good condition castle houses of Vathia village but revealed this hitherto forgotten corner of Laconia prefecture and the beautiful and “wild” Mani region.
Access and distances to Vathia
Vathia is located at the southern tip of Cape Tainaro (the middle peninsula of the Peloponnese). It is 92 km from the historical city of Sparta, capital of Lakonia prefecture, 33 km from Areopolis and 59 from the coastal and beautiful Gythio.
In 10 km you can visit the picturesque seaside settlement Gerolimena while just 26 km from there you can visit and discover one of the most beautiful and impressive Earth’s underground caves, the cave of Diros. Finally, Vathia is 305 kilometres from Athens.