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Impressions of Lakonia and Messinia, Greece

There are not many areas where the often so laid back Hellas shows a face of nature so rough and so harsh as here, in the South of the Peloponnesos peninsula, with its arid and treeless landscapes of mountains cleaved with deep crevasses and waterless riverbeds, and with people who have mirrored this harshness, throughout history, from the ancient past to a past to which our 'today' can still connect: or else, what to say about the ancient Spartans and their tight-gripped society in which military valour was the highest if not the only good, or about the Mani, where none of those who came and occupied, Frankish Crusaders, Venetians and Ottoman Turks alike, were ever able to subdue the stubborn and uncompromising locals? It surely is not a pure coincidence that the war of Greek independence was fired up here, a first time with the Orlov revolt of 1770 and then, for real, in 1821 in Areopoli, the City of the war god Ares. But rest assured, in the relay race of history Ares has passed on the 'baton' to the Apollo of light and openness and the Hermes of travellers.

 

There are also not many areas in Greece where history has left behind so many traces which are not associated with Antiquity but with eras of lesser resplendence yet deeper tragedy of occupation, resistance, reprisals and resilience. Of course, there are the dispersed remnants of a Mycenaean past around Pylos and the magnificent Hellenistic sites like Messini, but there is above all the immense Byzantine 13th and 14th century legacy, with brilliant churches and frescos and entire cities like Mystras and Geraki, and there are the feudal castles and fortifications left behind by the Crusaders, for whom the 'now' and the 'tomorrow' of their Peloponnesian Principality fully relied on how their mates were doing in the Latin Empire of Constantinople, ... and that was clearly not so well. The Venetians were better off then, in the end, and it shows in the wealth of what they have left behind for us to explore in this region.

 

We cannot offer you your own city in the Mani, like Agamemnon did to Achilles, but, then again, we do not ask you to go and fight the Trojans either. Instead, though, we humbly offer you our Impressions of Lakonia and Messinia, for you to discover and hopefully enjoy.

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