Sep 11, 2011

Gytheio and Marathonisi

For my Summer vacations I went to a couple of Greek islands and me  and my husband made a small tour of Peloponnese. We stayed a couple of nights at Gytheion, a picturesque small town by the sea. 

Gytheion or Gytheio (Greek: Γύθειο) is located in middle south of Peloponnese at the center of the Laconian Gulf. It is a lively, charming little harbor town. The most of its houses are two- or three-storey neo-classical mansions, stuck to the steep side of the Mt. Koumaros. A long sea-side promenade, the colorful fishing boats, the narrow streets and stairways produce the typical Greek environment which fascinates every visitor.

There are not really mentionable ancient objects to be studied in Gytheio. From its ancient past only a small Roman theater was left by an earthquake that destroyed the city in the 4th century. So, every visitor is free to enjoy just Greek present life.

Gythio is protected by spurs of the mighty Taygetos mountain range. Its highest "Profitis Ilias", with 2.407 m the highest mountain on the whole Peloponnese, makes a marvelous background scene. From November to May, the snow-white peaks are a magnificent sight behind the deep blue sea.

A little island called Kranai or Marathonisi (second postcard), which is connected with the mainland by a short dam, protects the port of Gythio town from the open sea. It is a beautiful place with pine-trees and an ideal view-point to overlook the gulf towards the Parnon mountain range in the east and Taygetos in the north-west. As it is reported by Homer, the island was the first refuge of Helen and Paris on their journey to Troy. According to the myth, Paris forgot his helmet on the islet as he was leaving - hence its name, since in Greek a helmet is called "kranos". An interesting site on Kranai is the restored Tzannetakis Tower, a fortress-residence belonging to the Tzannetakis-Grigorakis families. It was donated to the state and currently houses the History and Ethnology Museum of Mani. Also worth visiting are the chapel of Agios Petros and the octagonal lighthouse of 22 m height, built in 1873 of tenarian marble.

There are many beaches around of Gythio and the largest one is Mavrovouni beach. Because of its length of several kilometers it will never get crowded - just during the first half of August, when nearly all Greek people are on holiday, it may become a little more lively. In the afternoon, usually a perfect wind for wind-surfing will raise, and you can also hire a board and take lessons by the "Ocean Cafe". Mavrovouni beach is one of the favourite places for the "caretta caretta" sea turtles to lay their eggs in the sand. The nests are surveyed and protected of the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece called ARCHELON. [Gytheio official page]

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