WEST MANI PENINSULA

WEST MANI - KARDAMILI – TAYGETOS

Kardamili

A beautiful, picturesque seaside village in Messinian Mani, with stone-built towers, countless Byzantine churches and Byzantine monasteries scattered on the verdant slopes. Just 35km from Kalamata, Kardamili is a destination-getaway for both Messinians and visitors from other areas, as access is easy. Its name is due to the large number of “kardama” that existed in the area, hence the name Skardamoula.

 

The story of Kardamili

Kardamili was one of the 7 cities that belonged to Agamemnon and offered to Achilles, in order to gain favor by taking Vrisida during the Troy campaign to persuade him to return to battle.

Kardamili was initially controlled by Sparta. However, after the Battle of Leuktra in 371 BC, control of the area was now transferred to the Messinians. Since 146 BC, Kardamyli has now become a member of the Commonwealth of Lacedaemonians. With Sparta, it was connected via the Royal Road, tracks of which exist to this day.

The history of Kardamyli since the end of the 17th century is linked to the presence and the course of the genus of Paleologos-Troupakides. It is a large and extremely strong family, which seems to have maintained control of the area for nearly 200 years. During the period of the Trupian domination (18 ° -19 ° c.), Kardamyli developed intense pirate activity. Even in the Kapodistrian period it was a refuge for foreign pirates. On 06/01/1821, Theodoros Kolokotronis arrives from Zakynthos and is hosted at the tower of Panagiotis Troupakis (Mourtzinos). From there, the start of the liberation struggle was organized with the capture of Kalamata.

 

Taygetos

More and more visitors are choosing to embrace Taygetos every year because of its natural beauty and paths. Mountain forests and meadows, steep slopes and rocky ecosystems fill the visitor’s senses and heart. Hiking, climbing, mountain bike rides, bird watching are attracting more and more nature lovers to their mountain trips.

Taygetos is the highest mountain range in the Peloponnese with its peak (Prophet Elias) at an altitude of 2,407 meters, a unique environment of immense natural value that has been designated a “Special Protection Area” at European level (GR2550009 “Mount Taygetos-Lagkada Tripi).

Golden eagle, king eagle, eagle hawk, pheasant eagle are perhaps the most well-known of the 32 protected bird species that together with endemic flora and reptile species make up the unique mosaic of Taygetos biodiversity.

 

Paths

Every year before the race, the trails are signaled and cleaned by gentle manual means, essential work to highlight the area but also for the safety of the athletes. It is worth noting that 2/3 of the race tracks pass through the Natura 2000 Protected Area.

The trails pass through the gorge of Viros, which, apart from its natural beauty, stands out because of its historical significance as it passed along the ancient Vassiliki Odos that connected ancient Sparta with the port of Kardamili.

The crossing of Doubitsia is also a symbolic part of the race but also of the protected area: it is a highland with flora and remnants of terrain, terraces, buildings and cisterns to compose the natural landscape. One of the “secret” corners of Taygetos which, by no means, has been designated a “Wildlife Refuge”.

The Taygetos Challenge, for eleven years, has contributed to the preservation, upgrading and promotion of these ancient trails as a unique part of the natural and cultural heritage of our country.

 

Almost 1/6 of the land area of ​​Laconia and Messinia, including the Taygetos Mountains, as well as much of the marine zone, have been integrated into the European Network of Natura 2000 Protected Areas created for sustainable management and protection. of the natural wealth of the areas. In 2019 the “South Peloponnese – Kythera Protected Area Management Body” started operating with a non-profit-making nature.

 

Costas Teneketzis

Environmental Researcher

MSc “Coastal Area Management”