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Towers

The Towers of Mani

  The towers of Mani constitute a peculiar and unique in Greece category of popular architectural designs whose existence is justified by the need to confront the Turks as well as by the very social system which prevailed in the area, the distinction in «patries» and the exhausting -among them- fights.
  Apart from the towers that are built on strategic places and were meant to defend the people of the area, there are others which are either isolated or in communities and attain a peculiar and characteristic physiognomy as, apart from others, the height of the tower of a «patria» defined the power and worth of the family that owned it.
  There are stone-built and multi-storey structures which, according to their size, constitute either a complete house or the fortified part of it which is erected inside a yard that is surrounded by walls. The men of the house live in that part to ensure the protection of the house. The towers are usually 4x4m, while on their sides there are small openings to be used as embrasures. On the top part they have protruding circular or hexagonal watchtowers and their top room is surrounded by a high parapet. The floors of the lower floors are supported on domes, while those of the higher ones are always wooden and communication among them is possible by means of wooden stairs. The older towers are built with xerolithia (=dried earth bricks) while from the 18th century and after they have been built with lime mortar and are far more durable, and have corners which are constructed carefully with big blocks.
  The construction of towers stopped in the late-19th century when the central authorities prevailed gradually and replaced the patriarchal status quo in the area. Today there are 800 of them and are scattered around Mani like those in the communities of Vatheas, Mourtzinou, Kardamyli, Tzanetaki and Kapetanaki which constitute worthwhile popular architectural works dictated mainly by the historical and social conditions on the peninsula of Mani.

This text is cited March 2003 from the Messenia Prefecture Tourism Promotion Commission URL below, which contains image.


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