Mani, the southernmost and middle peninsula of the Peloponnese or Morea, straddling the districts of Lakonia and Messenia in southern Greece, is a treasure trove of Byzantine and post Byzantine churches, Frankish castles and stunning scenery.
The isolated aspect of this beautiful area, combined with the independent nature of its inhabitants meant that some traditions developed separately from the rest of the Peloponnese and Greece so that a distinct society made its mark on the landscape. To this day the architecture of the area is famed for the tower houses and fortified family dwellings from the period of the Ottoman occupation of Greece.
This is a comprehensive English language guide to Mani.
(Want to skip the introduction and go straight to the links? Click here)
This guide is (often at the same time) useful, scholarly, amateur, idiosyncratic, opinionated, academic, pedantic, amusing, full of off-colour 'humour', well-researched, slipshod, nice to look at, badly constructed, fascinating, boring, occasionally misleading, gossipy, discrete, mostly up to date but often out of date, arcane, perceptive, vague, over-precise, tedious, riveting, downright obscurant, illuminating, and innordinately lengthy… and that's just the author's opinions of it.
It rarely, and then merely obliquely, gives recommendations as to which are the best tavernas, hotels, rooms and cafés. It covers most of the villages, lots and lots of churches (I like churches - you'll discover), a fair number of castles (I like castles too) and other notable features of the topography of Mani. I give a concise history of the area and simple guides to church wallpaintings and suchlike. For those who are spurred on to read further there's a long, rambling and discursive bibliography which actually has rather a lot of information that doesn't appear elsewhere in the website - but no pictures, which makes it rather dull to look at. The rest of it has loads of pictures - some of them really quite good.
This website has been praised by a number of external sources, for example 'The Rough Guide to Greece' (highly recommendable itself) describes it as, 'remarkable and well illustrated' (thanks Lance - though I must stress we've never met!) and the Ecclesiological Society (the long 'e' word means 'study of churches') voted this website as a 'Site of the Month' some year or so ago ... an Italian site describes this as 'un vero trattato su Mani' - a Greek site writes of this 'beautifully illustrated site is a guide to the history of this fascinating region, complete with an exhaustive bibliography' and Michael Cullen, a man who knows Mani really well (and again I've regrettably never met) says, 'check out John Chapman's excellent site'... Sparta Public Library (that's Sparti, Greece, not Sparta, Tennessee) lists it, as does the Greek Embassy in Beijing, another site said I have 'put a ton of research and time into making this a truly remarkable site' - OK - enough already of the advertising!
Legal Stuff (sorry...)
The content of this website is my copyright and the fact that it's on the web doesn't change the laws on copyright, so don't nick stuff and pass it off as your own (as some people have… by the way, I know who you are…) and that includes using my photographs without permission - Contact me if you want to use them - or make a link to this site. My email is further down this page. If you want to print off pages feel free to do so. However I take no responsibilty for people getting lost using my directions or finding church doors locked that I blithely report as being open.
I've knowingly used a handful of other people's pictures, they either know about it or I've given them credit - other than that it's stuff that's out of copyright or long out of print and/or deserves a wider audience. If anyone feels aggrieved, contact me, have a moan and I'll take them down.
If you want to comment on the website, ask questions, point out mistakes, add to my knowledge or update me on the latest state of play in Mani (no, I don't live there) feel free to contact me - and thanks to all of you out there who have done so over the last seven years.
Mainly I wanted to know more about one of the most fascinating and beautiful parts of Greece, if only because I get easily bored lolling about in the sun. I've enjoyed the process and thought I'd like to share what I'd learned with the rest of you.
Hope you enjoy it.
To email me contact john.maniguide at gmail.com with a @ where the at bit is (Sorry but I was getting too much Spam to maintain a proper clickable link)
Last visit to Mani - May 2008 - last updated May 2011
If you want to keep up to date with what's what in Mani - read the latest 2011 edition of Inside the Mani Magazine Click here
This site © John Chapman 2001- 2011You'll see this image at the bottom of all the linked pages in this web site. Just click on the appropriate part of the image and follow your nose.
Descriptions of how to get to Mani and how to get about in it and some vague nature notes, a brief guide Orthodox church architecture, what to do if a church is locked, what are these wallpaintings about? - my attempt to answer that question and a bit of historico-artistic sleuthing
places sites maps
Some interactive maps, a gazetteer of places, churches, castles, or just follow a north to south tour of Mani
A concise history of Mani from the Byzantines to the present day, in five easily digested parts, with a discursive addenda on the 'mystery' of the location of a medieval castle
A selective and annotated bibliography of writing on Mani plus a list of those who have helped in the production of these pages
A Note: I wrote this on a series of Apple Macs. I've tried it out on Windows PCs (reluctantly). It works. Complaints (I've had a few) about its construction are welcomed - but frankly it's there to be read and looked at rather than clicked around. You've done 'War And Peace', The Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare - now do this website…