Gytheio or Gythio the ancient Gythium or Gytheion, is a town on the eastern shore of the Mani Peninsula, a former municipality in Laconia, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality East Mani, of which it is a municipal unit; the municipal unit has an area of 197.313 km2. It was the seaport of Sparta, some 40 kilometres north. Gytheio is the site of ancient Cranae, a tiny island where according to legend Paris of Troy and Helen from Sparta spent their first night together before departing for Troy, thus igniting the Trojan War. Gytheio used to be an important port until it was destroyed in 4th century AD by an earthquake. Thereafter its strategic location gave Gytheio a significant role in Maniot history. Today it is the largest and most important town in Mani, it is the seat of the municipality of East Mani. Gytheio is located in the northeastern corner of the Mani Peninsula and lies on the northwestern end of the Laconian Gulf. Gytheio was built on a hill called Koumaros or Laryssio in one of the most fertile areas in Mani, near the mouth of the Gythium River, dry and has been nicknamed Xerias "dry river".
Directly north and visible from the harbor is Profitis Ilias, the ultra-prominent peak of Taygetus, the mountain range whose spine juts southward into the Mediterranean Sea and forms the Mani Peninsula. On the ridgeline running south from Profitis Ilias sits the Monastery of Panayia Yiatrissa overlooking the valley toward Gytheio. Northeast of Gytheio is the delta of the Evrotas River. Offshore are several small islands. Today Cranae is connected to the mainland by a causeway. 5 km southwest is a passageway to the deeper Mani guarded by Castle Passavas, which towers over the site of ancient Las. Further west is the historic city of Areopoli and the Caves of Diros, which are important tourist attractions. Gytheio is only 40 km southeast of Sparti, connected by Greek National Road 39; the town center is situated around the port. Pine trees are situated in rocky mountains in the north. South: Mavrovouni Southwest: Castle Passava West: Rachi North: Stefania East: Cranae The reputed founders of ancient Gythium were Heracles and Apollo, who appear on its coins or in other legends, Castor and Pollux: the former of these names may point to the influence of Phoenician traders from Tyre, who, we know, visited the Laconian shores at a early period.
It is thought that Gytheio may have been the center of their purple dye trade because the Laconian Gulf had a plentiful source of murex. In classical times it was a community of Perioeci, politically dependent on Sparta, though doubtless with a municipal life of its own. In 455 BC, during the First Peloponnesian War, it was burned by the Athenian admiral Tolmides who besieged the city with 50 ships and 4,000 hoplites, it was rebuilt and was most the building ground for the Spartan fleet in the Peloponnesian War. In 407 BC during the Peloponnesian War, Alcibiades landed there and saw the thirty triremes the Spartans were building there. In 370 BC, the Thebans under the command of Epaminondas besieged the city for three days after ravaging Laconia; however it was recaptured by the Spartans three days later. In 219 BC, Philip V of Macedon tried to capture the city but without success. Under Nabis, Gythium became port. During the Roman-Spartan War, Gythium was captured after a lengthy siege. After the war finished, Gythium was made part of the Union of Free Laconians under Achean protection.
Nabis recaptured Gythium three years and the Spartan fleet defeated the Achean fleet outside of Gythium. Gythium was liberated by a Roman fleet under the command of Aulus Atilius Serranus. Subsequently, Gythium formed the most important of the Union of Free Laconians, a group of twenty-four eighteen, communities leagued together to maintain their autonomy against Sparta and declared free by Caesar Augustus; the highest officer of the confederacy was the general, assisted by a treasurer, while the chief magistrates of the several communities bore the title of ephors. In Roman times Gythium remained a major port and it prospered as a member of the Union; as purple dye was popular in Rome, Gythium exported that as well as porphyry and rose antique marble. Evidence of the ancient Gythium prosperity can be found by the fact that the Romans built an ancient theatre, well preserved today and is still used occasionally; the ancient theatre, as well as the city's Acropolis discovered by the archeologist Dimitris Skias on 1891.
Some time in the 4th century AD, Gythium was destroyed. What happened to Gythium is not recorded but it is thought to have been either sacked by Alaric and Visigoths, pillaged by the Slavs or destroyed by the massive earthquake that struck the area in 375 AD. After the earthquake Gythium was abandoned, it remained a small village throughout the Byzantine and Ottoman times. Its importance grew when Tzannetos Grigorakis built his tower at Cranae and more people came and settled at Gytheio, but during the Greek War of Independence, refugees made Gytheio a major town. The modern Gytheio opened a port in the 1960s. Ferries sail from Gytheio to Kythira daily and to Crete twice a week, it is the See of the Diocese of Gythe
The Peloponnese or Peloponnesus is a peninsula and geographic region in southern Greece. It is connected to the central part of the country by the Isthmus of Corinth land bridge which separates the Gulf of Corinth from the Saronic Gulf. During the late Middle Ages and the Ottoman era, the peninsula was known as the Morea, a name still in colloquial use in its demotic form; the peninsula is divided among three administrative regions: most belongs to the Peloponnese region, with smaller parts belonging to the West Greece and Attica regions. In 2016, Lonely Planet voted the Peloponnese the top spot of their Best in Europe list; the Peloponnese is a peninsula that covers an area of some 21,549.6 square kilometres and constitutes the southernmost part of mainland Greece. While technically it may be considered an island since the construction of the Corinth Canal in 1893, like other peninsulas that have been separated from their mainland by man-made bodies of waters, it is if referred to as an "island".
It has two land connections with the rest of Greece, a natural one at the Isthmus of Corinth, an artificial one by the Rio–Antirrio bridge. The peninsula has a mountainous interior and indented coasts; the Peloponnese possesses four south-pointing peninsulas, the Messenian, the Mani, the Cape Malea, the Argolid in the far northeast of the Peloponnese. Mount Taygetus in the south is the highest mountain in the Peloponnese, at 2,407 metres. Οther important mountains include Cyllene in the northeast, Aroania in the north and Panachaikon in the northwest, Mainalon in the center, Parnon in the southeast. The entire peninsula has been the site of many earthquakes in the past; the longest river is the Alfeios in the west, followed by the Evrotas in the south, the Pineios in the west. Extensive lowlands are found only in the west, with the exception of the Evrotas valley in the south and in the Argolid in the northeast; the Peloponnese is home to numerous spectacular beaches. Two groups of islands lie off the Peloponnesian coast: the Argo-Saronic Islands to the east, the Ionian to the west.
The island of Kythira, off the Epidaurus Limera peninsula to the south of the Peloponnese, is considered to be part of the Ionian Islands. The island of Elafonisos used to be part of the peninsula but was separated following the major quake of 365 AD. Since antiquity, continuing to the present day, the Peloponnese has been divided into seven major regions: Achaea, Argolis, Laconia and Elis; each of these regions is headed by a city. The largest city is Patras in Achaia, followed by Kalamata in Messenia; the peninsula has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Its modern name derives from ancient Greek mythology the legend of the hero Pelops, said to have conquered the entire region; the name Peloponnesos means "Island of Pelops". The Mycenaean civilization, mainland Greece's first major civilization, dominated the Peloponnese in the Bronze Age from its stronghold at Mycenae in the north-east of the peninsula; the Mycenean civilization collapsed at the end of the 2nd millennium BC. Archeological research has found that many of its palaces show signs of destruction.
The subsequent period, known as the Greek Dark Ages, is marked by an absence of written records. In 776 BC, the first Olympic Games were held at Olympia, in the western Peloponnese and this date is sometimes used to denote the beginning of the classical period of Greek antiquity. During classical antiquity, the Peloponnese was at the heart of the affairs of ancient Greece, possessed some of its most powerful city-states, was the location of some of its bloodiest battles; the major cities of Sparta, Corinth and Megalopolis were all located on the Peloponnese, it was the homeland of the Peloponnesian League. Soldiers from the peninsula fought in the Persian Wars, it was the scene of the Peloponnesian War of 431–404 BC; the entire Peloponnese with the notable exception of Sparta joined Alexander's expedition against the Persian Empire. Along with the rest of Greece, the Peloponnese fell to the expanding Roman Republic in 146 BC, when the Romans razed the city of Corinth and massacred its inhabitants.
The Romans created the province of Achaea comprising central Greece. During the Roman period, the peninsula remained prosperous but became a provincial backwater cut off from the affairs of the wider Roman world. After the partition of the Empire in 395, the Peloponnese became a part of the East Roman or Byzantine Empire; the devastation of Alaric's raid in 396–397 led to the construction of the Hexamilion wall across the Isthmus of Corinth. Through most of late antiquity, the peninsula retained its urbanized character: in the 6th century, Hierocles counted 26 cities in his Synecdemus. By the latter part of that century, building activity seems to have stopped everywhere except Constantinople, Thessalonica and Athens; this has traditionally been attributed to calamities such as plague and Slavic invasions. However, more recent analysis suggests that urban decline was linked with the collapse of long-distance and regional commercial networks that underpinned and supported late antique urba
The Mani Peninsula long known by its medieval name Maina or Maïna, is a geographical and cultural region in Greece, home to the Maniots, who claim descendancy from the ancient Dorians and Spartans. The capital cities of Mani are Areopoli. Mani is the central peninsula of the three which extend southwards from the Peloponnese in southern Greece. To the east is the Laconian Gulf, to the west the Messenian Gulf; the peninsula forms a continuation of the Taygetos mountain range, the western spine of the Peloponnese. The name "Mani" may come from the name of the Frankish castle le Grand Magne; the terrain is inaccessible. Until recent years many Mani villages could be reached only by sea. Today a narrow and winding road extends along the west coast from Kalamata to Areopoli south to Akrotainaro before it turns north toward Gytheio. Another road, used by the public buses of the Piraeus - Mani line, which has existed for several decades, comes from Tripoli through Sparta, Gytheio and ends in the Gerolimenas port near Cape Matapan.
Mani has been traditionally divided into three regions: Exo Mani or Outer Mani to the northwest, Kato Mani or Lower Mani to the east, Mesa Mani or Inner Mani to the southwest. A fourth region named Vardounia to the north is sometimes included but was never part of Mani. Vardounia served as a buffer between Mani. A contingent of Muslim Albanian settlers were relocated to the region by the Ottomans; these settlers formed a large segment of the local population until the Greek War of Independence when they fled to the Turkish stronghold at Tripoli. Following the war Vardounia's Greek population was reinforced by settlers from Lower Mani and central Laconia. Administratively, Mani is now divided between the prefectures of Laconia and Messenia, in the periphery of Peloponnesos, but in ancient times it lay within Laconia, the district dominated by Sparta; the Messenian Mani receives somewhat more rainfall than the Laconian, is more productive in agriculture. Maniots from what is now Messenian Mani have surnames that uniformly end in -éas, whereas Maniots from what is now Laconian Mani have surnames that end in -ákos.
A comprehensive history of the Mani region can be found here. Neolithic remains have been found in many caves along the Mani coasts, including the Alepotrypa Cave. Homer refers to a number of towns in the Mani region, some artifacts from the Mycenaean period have been found; the area was occupied by the Dorians in about 1200 BC, became a dependency of Sparta. After Spartan power was destroyed in the 3rd century BC, Mani remained self-governing; as the power of the Byzantine Empire declined, the peninsula drifted out of the Empire's control. The fortress of Maini in the south became the area's centre. Over the subsequent centuries, the peninsula was fought over by the Byzantines, the Franks, the Saracens. After the Fourth Crusade in 1204 AD, Italian and French knights occupied the Peloponnese and created the Principality of Achaea, they built the fortresses of Mystras, Passavas and Great Maina. The area fell under Byzantine rule after 1262. In 1460, after the fall of Constantinople, the Despotate fell to the Ottomans.
Mani was not subdued and retained its internal self-government in exchange for an annual tribute, although this was only paid once. Local chieftains or beys governed Mani on behalf of the Ottomans:'The first of these rulers, Liberakis Yerakaris, reigned in the middle of the seventeenth century. By the age of twenty he had served several years as an oarsman in the Venetian galleys and made himself the foremost pirate of the Mani. Captured by the Turks and condemned to death, he was reprieved by the Grand Vizier---the great Albanian Ahmet Küprülü---on condition that he accepted the hegemony of the Mani, he undertook the office in order to avenge himself on the strong Maniot family of the Stephanopoli with which he was in feud. He at once besieged them in the fort of Vitylo and captured thirty-five of them whom he executed on the spot. For the next twenty years he used his power and influence with the Sublime Porte to campaign all over Greece at the head of formidable armies, siding now with the Turks, now with the Venetians, marrying the beautiful princess Anastasia, niece of a Voivode of Wallachia, ending his life, after adventures comparable to anything in the annals of the Italian condottiere, as Turkish Prince of the Mani and Venetian Lord of the Roumeli and Knight of St. Mark.
The Turks did not repeat the experiment for a hundred years. During the forty-five years from 1776 to 1821, when the War of Independence broke out, the Mani was ruled by eight successive Beys, all except one of whom played the dangerous game of maintaining the interests of the Mani and of eventual Greek freedom while trying to remain on the right side of the Turks. Zanetos Koutipharis, Michaelbey Troupakis, Zanetbey Kapetanakis Grigorakis, Panayoti Koumoundouros, Antonbey Grigorakis, Thodorbey Zanetakis and Petrobey Mavromichalis.'As Ottoman power declined, the mountains of the Mani became a stronghold of the klephts, bandits
Greece the Hellenic Republic, self-identified and known as Hellas, is a country located in Southern and Southeast Europe, with a population of 11 million as of 2016. Athens is largest city, followed by Thessaloniki. Greece is located at the crossroads of Europe and Africa. Situated on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula, it shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, North Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, Turkey to the northeast; the Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, the Cretan Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km in length, featuring a large number of islands, of which 227 are inhabited. Eighty percent of Greece is mountainous, with Mount Olympus being the highest peak at 2,918 metres; the country consists of nine geographic regions: Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Epirus, the Aegean Islands, Thrace and the Ionian Islands.
Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilisation, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, Western literature, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, Western drama and notably the Olympic Games. From the eighth century BC, the Greeks were organised into various independent city-states, known as poleis, which spanned the entire Mediterranean region and the Black Sea. Philip of Macedon united most of the Greek mainland in the fourth century BC, with his son Alexander the Great conquering much of the ancient world, from the eastern Mediterranean to India. Greece was annexed by Rome in the second century BC, becoming an integral part of the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire, in which Greek language and culture were dominant. Rooted in the first century A. D. the Greek Orthodox Church helped shape modern Greek identity and transmitted Greek traditions to the wider Orthodox World. Falling under Ottoman dominion in the mid-15th century, the modern nation state of Greece emerged in 1830 following a war of independence.
Greece's rich historical legacy is reflected by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The sovereign state of Greece is a unitary parliamentary republic and developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life, a high standard of living. A founding member of the United Nations, Greece was the tenth member to join the European Communities and has been part of the Eurozone since 2001, it is a member of numerous other international institutions, including the Council of Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Greece's unique cultural heritage, large tourism industry, prominent shipping sector and geostrategic importance classify it as a middle power, it is the largest economy in the Balkans. The names for the nation of Greece and the Greek people differ from the names used in other languages and cultures.
The Greek name of the country is Hellas or Ellada, its official name is the Hellenic Republic. In English, the country is called Greece, which comes from Latin Graecia and means'the land of the Greeks'; the earliest evidence of the presence of human ancestors in the southern Balkans, dated to 270,000 BC, is to be found in the Petralona cave, in the Greek province of Macedonia. All three stages of the stone age are represented for example in the Franchthi Cave. Neolithic settlements in Greece, dating from the 7th millennium BC, are the oldest in Europe by several centuries, as Greece lies on the route via which farming spread from the Near East to Europe. Greece is home to the first advanced civilizations in Europe and is considered the birthplace of Western civilisation, beginning with the Cycladic civilization on the islands of the Aegean Sea at around 3200 BC, the Minoan civilization in Crete, the Mycenaean civilization on the mainland; these civilizations possessed writing, the Minoans writing in an undeciphered script known as Linear A, the Mycenaeans in Linear B, an early form of Greek.
The Mycenaeans absorbed the Minoans, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC, during a time of regional upheaval known as the Bronze Age collapse. This ushered from which written records are absent. Though the unearthed Linear B texts are too fragmentary for the reconstruction of the political landscape and can't support the existence of a larger state contemporary Hittite and Egyptian records suggest the presence of a single state under a "Great King" based in mainland Greece; the end of the Dark Ages is traditionally dated to the year of the first Olympic Games. The Iliad and the Odyssey, the foundational texts of Western literature, are believed to have been composed by Homer in the 7th or 8th centuries BC. With the end of the Dark Ages, there emerged various kingdoms and city-states across the Greek peninsula, which spread to the shores of the Black Sea, So
Laconia is a region of Greece in the southeastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. Its administrative capital is Sparta; the word laconic is derived from the name of the region by analogy—to speak in a concise way, as the Spartans were reputed by the Athenians to do. Laconia is bordered by Messenia to the west and Arcadia to the north and is surrounded by the Myrtoan Sea to the east and by the Laconian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, it encompasses a large part of the Mani Peninsula. The Mani Peninsula is in the west region of Lakonia; the islands of Kythira and Antikythera lie to the south, but they administratively belong to the Attica regional unit of islands. The island, situated between the Laconian mainland and Kythira, is part of Laconia; the Eurotas is the longest river in the prefecture. The valley of the Eurotas is predominantly an agricultural region that contains many citrus groves, olive groves, pasture lands, it is the location of the largest orange production in the Peloponnese and in all of Greece.
Lakonia, a brand of orange juice, is based in Amykles. The main mountain ranges are the Parnon in the northeast. Taygetus, known as Pentadaktylos throughout the Middle Ages, is west of Sparta and the Eurotas valley, it is the highest mountain in Laconia and the Peloponnese and is covered with pine trees. Two roads join the Messenia and Laconia prefectures: one is a tortuous mountain pass through Taygetus and the other bypasses the mountain via the Mani district to the south; the stalactite cave, Dirou, a major tourist attraction, is located south of Areopolis in the southwest of Laconia. Laconia has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers. Snow is rare on the coast throughout the winter but is common in the mountains. Evidence of Neolithic settlement in southern Laconia has been found during excavations of the Alepotrypa cave site. In ancient Greece, this was the principal region of the Spartan state. For much of classical antiquity the Spartan sphere of influence expanded to Messenia, whose inhabitants were enslaved.
Significant archaeological recovery exists at the Vaphio-tomb site in Laconia. Found here is advanced Bronze Age art as well as evidence of cultural associations with the contemporaneous Minoan culture on Crete. Laconia saw several battles. From the early-2nd century BC until 395 AD, it was a part of the Roman Empire. In the medieval period, Laconia formed part of the Byzantine Empire. Following the Fourth Crusade, it was conquered by the Frankish Principality of Achaea. In the 1260s, the Byzantines recovered Mystras and other fortresses in the region and managed to evict the Franks from Laconia, which became the nucleus of a new Byzantine province. By the mid-14th century, this evolved into the Despotate of Morea, held by the last Greek ruling dynasty, the Palaiologoi. With the fall of the Despotate to the Ottomans in 1460, Laconia was conquered as well. With the exception of a 30-year interval of Venetian rule, Laconia remained under Ottoman control until the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence of 1821.
Following independence, Sparta was selected as the capital of the modern prefecture, its economy and agriculture expanded. With the incorporation of the British-ruled Ionian Islands into Greece in 1864, Elafonissos became part of the prefecture. After World War II and the Greek Civil War, its population began to somewhat decline, as people moved from the villages toward the larger cities of Greece and abroad. In 1992, a devastating fire ruined the finest olive crops in the northern part of the prefecture, affected the area of Sellasia along with Oinountas and its surrounding areas. Firefighters and planes battled for days to put out the horrific fire; the Mani portion along with Gytheio became famous in Greece for filming episodes of Vendetta, broadcast on Mega Channel throughout Greece and abroad on Mega Cosmos. In early 2006, flooding ruined olive and citrus crops as well as properties and villages along the Eurotas river. In the summer 2006, a terrible fire devastated a part of the Mani Peninsula, ruining forests and numerous villages.
The regional unit, Laconia, is subdivided into five municipalities. These are: East Mani Elafonisos Eurotas Monemvasia Sparta As a part of the 2011 Kallikratis government reform, regional unit Laconia was created out of the former prefecture Laconia; the prefecture had the same territory as the present regional unit. At the same time, the municipalities were reorganised, according to the table below. Epidavros Limira Province – Molaoi Gytheio Province – Gytheio Lacedaemonia Province – Sparti Oitylo Province – AreopoliNote: Provinces no longer hold any legal status in Greece. 1907: 87,106 1991: 95,696 2001: 94,918 2011: 89,138The main cities and towns of Laconia are: Sparti 17,408 Gytheio 4,717 Neapoli 3,130 Skala 3,089 Greek National Road 39, Tripoli – Sparti – Gytheio Greek National Road 82, Pylos – Kalamata – Sparti Greek National Road 86, Gytheio – Monemvasia Molaoi to Leonidi Road, E, NE FLY FM 89,7. POLITIA 90,7 – ΠΟΛΙΤΕΙΑ 90.7 Radio Sparti – 92.7 FM Radiofonias Notias Lakonias – 93.5 Star FM – 94.7 Ellada TV – UHF 43, Sparta TV Notias Lakonias – Molaoi Λακωνικός Τύπος Ελεύθερη Άποψη Νέα Σπάρτη Παρατηρητής της Λακωνίας List of settlements in Laconia List of traditional Greek place names Laconic phrase