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GYTHIO TOWN UNOFFICIAL WEB PAGE



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Welcome to beautiful GREECE

Greece is famous for its wonderful countryside and its numerous islands. This doesn't mean that mainland is not interesting and attractive. My favourite place for holidays is in south Peloponesse , Lakonia and is called
GYTHIO
In this page you have the opportunity to get familiar with this place and appreciate its own beauty.




GYTHIO TRAVEL WISE

bulletHistory bulletPlanning your trip bulletHow to get there bulletGetting around bulletDining bulletShopping bulletThings to see bulletSocial Events bulletAccomodation bulletBeaches - Sports bulletNightlife bullet Useful telephones bulletPhoto Gallery
bulletMore information



HISTORY

According to some, the Phoenicians are regarded as the founders of the city and probably introduced the worship of Aphrodite Megonitida. When Pausanias visited Gythio he recorded an old tale according to which Heracles and Apollo were the founders of the city after the end of a fight over a delphic tripod, stolen by Heracles. Following the Doric conquest, interest in Gythio ceased. The Spartans fortified both the port, and later the city, frequently attacked by Athenian forces. Around 455 BC the Athenian admiral Tolmides seized and destroyed Gythio so as to prevent the Spartans naval development but the Spartans fortified the port yet again. Both Epaminondas in 369 BC and Philip V of Macedonia in 218 BC failed in their attempts to capture the city. Gythio was rebuilt later by Nabis and in 195 AC was felt to the Romans after a seige. Titus Flaminius set up a confederacy ( Lakedaemonian's Common ) made up of Gythio and other coastal towns which changed its name to Free Lakonians Common during the rule of Augustus. From then on Gythio set out to become not only an important commercial centre but also a port renowed for the progress and exportation of porphyry. The city's prosperity lasted till the 4th century. It was resancked by the Goths in 395 AC and finally deserted. In 1687 it was resurface again, as a small port. In 1770 it was known as Marathonisi, and was a major centre of the Greek Revolution and the most important city of the free-Lakonian League. After the outbreak of the revolution of 1821 the Gregorakis family, members of the Filiki Eteria, raised the flag of revolution on Marathonisi on March 23rd thus making it the Greek fleet operations centre. In 1830 Gythio raised against I.Kapodistria. In 1852 the inhabitants stood firmly behind monk Papoulakis movement mainly because they opposed King Otto 's government. In 1934 Gythio revolted against the Bavarians who wanted to demolish the traditional towers of Mani.

Today represents the capital of Mani the isolated southern fringe of the Peloponesse named after Maina castle, built by William de Villehardouin in the 13th century. It is the second largest city (4600 inhabitants) in Laconia after Sparta and the seat of an eparchy. From August 1997, Gythio is affiliated with the french city Villeneuve Les Avignon.Olives, olive oil and valonia are its chief exports. It has a pleasant promenade with pastel - coloured buildings chambering up to the steep wooded hill of Koumaros. Gythio boasts beautiful sand and stone beaches, picturesque houses, friendly and affable people.


PLANNING YOUR TRIP

HOW TO GET THERE

GETTING AROUND

The easiest way to get around is by foot. Gythio has a number of tourist information facilities throughout the town. Tourist police staff aid visitors in the streets and provide any information requested. Excursions around Mani region is also suggested :
  1. The Byzantine state of Mistras :
    The castle of Mistras was built by the Franks in 1249 in their attempt to establish their supremacy over the Peloponnese. Their catastrophic defeat at Pelagonia (1259) forced them to hand over Mistra to the Greeks. The Frankish prince Guillaume de Villehardouin erected the castle. He built bastions for his knights, houses, dungeons, storerooms, courtyards. From up here he ruled over the world of the Evrotas. As time went by, houses were built on the hillside under the Frankish castle, and a town was born whose fate was to become the centre of civilisation and the cradle of the last dynasty of the Byzantine emperors. The houses roundabout are of two or three storeys. With their imposing vaulted roofs and arcades these mansions lead up to the Palace, an architectural creation of the Palaiologues. The throne room, the chapel with its vestiges of Byzantine frescoes, the rooms lighted by large windows with ogival arches, are some of the features of this building whose construction took place in various periods, according to the style prevalling in Constantinople. During its two centuries of Mistras existence as the Byzantine capital of the Peloponnese, many churches and monasteries with domes and chapels were erected, representing all the painting trends of the capital. The most important monument you meet on your way up - and the first to be built - is the Cathedral of Agios Dimitrios. On the floor of the church is the two-headed eagle, symbol of the Palaiologos dynasty, carved into a plaque. According to tradition, this is where Konstantinos stepped when he was crowned King. Next to it stands the carved throne. In 1449, Konstantinos Palaiologos was crowned emperor of Byzantium and he left Mistras for Constantinople. In 1453 the Turks captured Constantinople, and a few years later, in 1460, the same fate befell Mistras. Mistras, the brilliant capital of the Despotate of the Morea, was reduced to an insignificant village. The frescoes in the Cathedral show a shining sky painted by skilfull hands. One wing of the church houses the Museum. Towards the northern corner of the enclosure stand Mistras' two most impressive churches, Agii Theodori and the Panagia Odigitria, known as the Afentiko. Its wall paintings hold you spellbound. Near the highest gate of the castle stands the church of Agia Sofia, while on the slope to the east is the Pantanassa monastery, built by the lords of the15th century. The church is impressive in its elegance and refinement. Its frescoes are filled with bright colour and movement.
  2. The tour of Mani :
    Gythio, Areopolis, Pyrgos Dyrou, Kita, Alika, Gerolimenas, Vathia and then return to Alika and turn right for Lagia, Cocala, Kotrona, Areopoli and return to Gythio (136 km). In Areopolis don't overlook to visit the ancient church of Taxiarches (18 th century) in the town center and the house of Mavromichalis family ( Patriots who helped in the revolution against Turkish regim in 1821) which its renovaded and stands as a museum.
  3. The Kelefa fort in Itilo :
    It was builted by Turks in17th century in a hill near Areopolis to control together with Castle of Passava , the south Mani. It has a pentagon design and disposes 6 towers.
  4. The light - house of Cape Tainaro:
    The gate of Hades by ancient Greek Mythology and the southern part of the European mainland (72 Km). By car to Porto Cagio and then 5km on foot. Be sure to have with you water, a hat,, sunglasses and hiking shoes.
  5. The beautiful Caves of Diros : (37 km)
    The existence of the Caves ( Glyphada, Alepotripa and Kataphyggi ) has been known since 1900 and in 1949 were explored by speleologist I. Petrochilos.
    Glyphada Its temperature fluctuates from 16 C to 20 C. Passages of about 5000m have been explored while its total extent is 33,400sq.m. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful lake Caves of the world. In its interior fossil animals have been discovered that existed 2 million years ago.
    Alepotripa is situated 200m. east of Glyphada and was discovered in 1958. It is explored by Mr. and Mrs. Petrochilou. The finds provide evidence of life in the Cave 6000 years ago many of which are exchibited in the " Stone Age Museum " of Diros situated at the entrance of the Cave. The extent of the Cave is 6,500sq.m. , 600sq.m. of which consist of land with stalactites and stalagmites and the rest is covered by the water of an underground river. The average temperature of the Cave is 19 C and of the water 18 C.
    Kataphyggi is located 500m. on the left side of the road that leads to the former two Caves. It has an area of 2,700sq.m. whereas the length of its passages is 700m. The Caves are open daily 8.00 - 15.00 tel : 0733 - 52222 / 52223
  6. To the Neolithic Museum of Diros:
    It is situated nearby the entrance of Diros Caves. Here they are exhibited the more characteristic findings from Alepotrypa Cave, which remain close for the visitors as the excavation continues. Open daily 08:30 - 15:00 p.m except Monday tel : 52233


DINING

You may have to adjust your eating schedule to the Greek way of life. Although breakfast is served between 7 and 9 am , other meals are eaten late. Lunch is usually served between 1 and 3.30 p.m. on the famous taverns - restaurants and dinner between 8 and 11 p.m. Laconia's cuisine is blessed with a great variety of ingredients representing the range of the Laconic province : olives and olive oil, traditional vegetarian dishes, fresh fishes are on most menus. Don’t overlook the traditional ouzeri and seaside cafes who serve the taste of octopus grilled on the charcoals, as a speciality. By all means try it ! The water side is the obvious location. The best well cooked and grilled dishes will find in Petakos tavern , a genuine local tavern, nearby the town stadium. The local menu is salted pork (siglino). For fresh fish try the many promenade taverns, Palirria is one of the best. Three super-markets are also existed and a street market takes place every Friday .


SHOPPING

Take a look at the fascinating antique-cum junk shop (Paliatzures) near police station. It sells traditional farming tools, pots, lamps, guns, small items or furniture, church ornaments, old stamps and coins. All are legally exported.


THINGS TO SEE
    THE ANCIENT TOWN

    From an aerial view of the town climb up through Gythio’s stepped streets on the hill behind - the town’s ancient Acropolis. The settlement around it know as Laryssion , was quite substantial in Roman times enjoying a wealth from the export of murex, the purple - pigmented mollusc used to due imperial togas.

    THE ANCIENT THEATRE (excavated in 1891)

    It can be seen 250 m from the N end of the sea - front signs. It is situated near the entrance of the city and close to the present army barracks. Hercules and Apollo builted it together according to the myth. It was renovated during the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus. The theatre was the starting point for a thymelic performance - song contest dedicated to Dionysos, a parade and a sacrifice in honour of the Roman emperors. It had stone seats - simple benches with a wide ditch behind each row, except for the first one, which was made of marble. The diameter of the auditorium is approx. 75 m. In the orchestra , a large well - like structure is not recorded in reports. Above, various Roman buildings including a bath have been found. The museum contains a few local antiquities. Every summer it takes part here the Festival of Gythio which presents ancient drama performances , music concerts and public speaches.

    THE ISLAND OF KRANAI

    The ancient Marathonisi is a low rocky islet , joined to the coast by a narrow pier built inn 1898 . It was a port of call for the Phoenicians when fishing for purple - dye. The Phoenicians went so far as to build a temple to Aphrodite on the island, which is also the place where Paris and Helen spent their first night when fleeing from Sparta by ship to Troy. The islet’s 18th century tower, once belonged to the wild Mavromichaelis family, Maniot rebels who played an important role on the assassination of Kapodistria, Greek’s first president , in Nafplion. The tower now has been restored and it houses the Historical and Ethnological museum of Mani which deals with the exploration of the Mani region through the centuries. You may also visit the impressive lighthouse of the island. It was built in 1873 and it's 23 metres high.

    THE CASTLE OF PASSAVA

    On the road to Areopolis 10 klm NA, it's a Frankish castle built in 1254 by its first owner varone De Neigi and incorporates fragments of ancient Greek masonry. After history, Turkish army during the revolution of 1821 stopped in this point as it was impossible to beat the Greeks patriots which were faced the enemy from inside the castle. The name of the castle Passava comes from the French war phrase, passe - avant = go further.


CULTURAL EVENTS


  1. Every New Years Eve , the exchange of gifts. It's an event which is held with the initiative of the Council of Gythio, in the area of the Christmas scenes which have been constructed for the festive holidays. Whoever wants to, can bring their gifts or cakes to the Town hall and after the change of the year with fireworks, music, dancing and other festivities, the Mayor shares out the gifts and the cakes to all who are there.
  2. The second day of Easter, the traditional get together on the island of Kranai in front of the castle with lambs on the spit and in the oven according to Manian customs, with a local band dancing, wine, red painted eggs and a merry mood.
  3. The 1st of October, in Gythio, the fishermen fish the best maridaki (a very small fish) in the world. This is celebrated with a traditional feast in the afternoon of the same day, where the first catch is served with plenty of wine , free.
  4. The last Saturday of Carnival period (end of Febraury) all the local authorities in collaboration with the schools, organise the Carnival parade which year by year it becomes more popular. At the begining of the parade comes the big Carnival and behind him, groups of maskers dressed in fancy dresses. The parade ends up in the wharf of the port where takes place the burning of the Carnival in an atmosphere of fireworks, music and dancing.
  5. "Marathonisia" painting and book exhibitions, theatre performances, beach volley games e.t.c.
  6. In September 14, the Exaltation of the Holly Cross. An outdoor trade on Gythio's market.


ACCOMODATION

Finding accommodation shouldn’t be hard , with a fair selection of hotels and private rooms but during summer season, reservation is somewhat compulsory. We simply recommend :

If you want to camp , there are 3 organised campings along Mavrovouni beach which begins 3km S of the town, at the Areopoli road and one in Vathy beach :
  1. Meltemi 288 persons, Apr - Oct (tel 0733/23260 -22833)
  2. Gythio Beach 213 persons, Apr - Oct (tel 0733/23441- 22522)
  3. Mani Beach 714 persons, Apr - Oct (tel 0733/23450 - 23451)
  4. Cronos 200 persons, Apr - Sep (tel 0733/24124)


BEACHES AND SPORTS

For swimming there are a number of coves within reach of Gythio, on both sides of which rise an intermittent sequence of cliffs. Mavrovouni (sandy 6km length) Vathi , Ageranos , Kalivia , Selinitsa and Skoutari are some of the beautiful beaches of Gythio.

Windsurfing in Mavrovouni beach which is ideal for surfing lovers. If you dont have a surfboard, you can rent one on the beach. Also you can enjoy kanoe and all water sports like water - ski.



NIGHTLIFE

Everything you should ask you'll find it here. Discos, bars, pubs are doing their best to give you a great time. For silence in the morning and atmosphere in the night, visit the beautiful open bar Oceanin Mavrovouni beach. Night life in Gythio usually starts from Status passes from Anemos and often ends in Koursaros Club or in Louis YO-YO club.



USEFUL TELEPHONES - INFORMATION

Automatic dialing code : 0733
Postal code : 23200
Police station : 22100 -22271
Fire brigade : 23443
Post office : 22285
Telephone office : 22099
Port authority : 22262
Bus Station : 22228
Customs : 22247
Town Hall : 22210
National Bank : 22313
Health center : 22001- 3
Farmacies : 22566 - 22131 - 22934 - 22219
Taxi : 23423 - 22418 - 22755
Moto - Rental : 24407 - 24001
Travel agencies : 22207-21280



PHOTO GALLERY

Here you can join some nice photos of Gythio

MORE INFORMATION

Also, you may contact the Greek National Tourist Organisation offices( GNTO) abroad, for supplementary maps, event calendars, brochures, and other time saving travel infornation - FREE :
  1. AUSTRALIA - NEW ZEALAND
    51-57 Pitt St. Sydney N.S.W. 2000 Tel : +00612 - 2411663/4/5 Fax : 2352174
  2. AUSTRIA
    Opernring 8, Wien, 10105 Tel : +00431 - 51253117/8 Fax : 5139189
  3. CANADA
    1300 Bay St. Toronto - Ontario MSR 3K8 Tel: +001416 - 9682220 Fax : 9686533 ,
  4. GERMANY
    Neue Mainzerstr. 22, 6000 Frankfurt - Main , Tel : +004969 - 237735, 236561/2/3 Pacel - listr.2 Munchen, W 8000 Munchen 2, Tel: +004989 - 222035/6 Fax : 297058
  5. SWITZERLAND
    Loewenstrasse 25, Zurich, CH 8001, Tel : +00411 - 2210105 Fax : 2120516
  6. UNITED KINGDOM
    4 Conduits St. London, W1R ODJ , Tel : +004471 - 4999758 Fax : 2871369
  7. USA
    Olympic tower, 645 Fifth av. NY 10022, Tel : +001212 - 4215777 Fax : 8266940
    168 North Michigan av. - Suite 600, Chicago - Illinois 60601,Tel ; +001312 - 7821084 Fax :7821091
  8. DENMARK
    Copenhagen Vester Farimagsgade 1,2 DK 1606-Kobenhavn
  9. NETHERLANDS
    Leidestraat 13, Amsterdam, NS 1017 Tel : +20 - 254212
  10. SWEDEN
    Grev Turigatan 2, PO Box 5298, Stockholm, 10246 Tel : +8 - 6796448



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3 - 3 - 96
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