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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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