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Historic Stays in Greece: Kardamyli’s Tower Houses

Deep in the Peloponnese, in an area much less visited than Greece’s popular islands, Kardamyli is a true gem. Kardamyli combines Greek stunning landscapes, peaceful beaches, and historical architecture. One building style that stands out in the region are the tower houses.

 

History of Tower Houses in Kardamyli

The Tower Houses of Kardamyli are each like a mini-castle, originally for families who used the houses as defense. They are built close to one another in a defensive arrangement. Many of these towers were built in the 18th and 19th centuries to protect against Ottomans, pirates, and other attackers.

Petreas Tower, Kardamyli | © Aria Hotels | Photo by Studio Reskos

Why Were the Tower Houses Built?

These tower houses are found all over the Peloponnese in the Mani region. Besides being a way to safety from attackers, these houses were a status symbol for the locals. A taller tower meant that the family inside was more important. Maintaining the tower was the responsibility of the whole family, not just the ones who lived there.

Petreas Tower, Kardamyli | © Aria Hotels | Photo by Studio Reskos

Where to Stay in Kardamyli

Petreas Tower

Of the most beautiful and well-preserved tower houses is the Petreas Tower, which is found in Old Kardamyli in Messinian Mani. Petreas Tower is a combination of Mani’s history with traditional architecture from the region. It looks so natural in the background that you would think it is part of the mountains and landscape. 

Petreas Tower, Kardamyli | © Aria Hotels | Photo by Studio Reskos

The Petreas Tower is made completely of stone, which is one of the only naturally found building materials in the area. One of the characteristic parts of the tower are the crossbows in the higher window areas, which were used for invaders. Outside is a stone courtyard with olive trees. Inside, there are three floors, which was not something uncommon for tower houses in Mani. The Petreas Tower is special because the tower is restored, while also keeping its traditional roots. As an accommodation, the tower sleeps six people.

Traditional Peloponnesian Meal | © Aria Hotels | Photo by Studio Reskos

Petreas Tower History

The Petreas Tower was built in 1790 for Dimitrios Troupakis – one of the leaders of the Greek revolution, with a golden distinction from the Governor of Greece. Today, it belongs to the Petrea family, a local family of scientists and pioneers. The most recent resident, Stylianos Petreas, wrote a book about the customs and manners of Mani. The Ministry of Culture renovated the building in 2011. 

Petreas Tower, Kardamyli | © Aria Hotels | Photo by Studio Reskos

The Tower House

The Tower House in Kardamyli is located in the center of town and has three bedrooms. It offers a unique and authentic experience of staying in a traditional Messenian Tower. Of note is the impressive stone façade and presence of the building, which travels you back in time. 

The Tower House, Kardamyli | ©Aria Hotels | Photo by Nikiforos Stamenis

Inside, The Tower House is renovated with all the modern amenities you could need, and also a yard and veranda surrounded by a green garden full of Mediterranean plants and citrus. On the top floor, you will find the small traditional windows that are characteristic of Mani Tower homes. This is a great place to stop and read a book while on your vacation. 

The Tower House, Kardamyli | ©Aria Hotels | Photo by Nikiforos Stamenis

What to Do Near Kardamyli

Old Kardamyli

This part of the town is also known as Upper Kardamyli, and it gives you an idea of the past of the village. The narrow streets have preserved stone houses, archways, and traditional buildings that show the village’s architectural heritage. The alleyways and views of the countryside make it a charming place to explore.

Overview of Old Kardamyli | © Aria Hotels | Photo by Studio Reskos

Diros Caves

These unique caves are located close to Kardamyli and should not be missed. Of note are the stalagmites and stalactites underwater. Visitors can go through the caves by boat, and look at the breathtaking formations surrounding them.

 

Ritsa Beach

In Kardamyli itself is Ritsa Beach, a beautiful pebble beach with clean turquoise waters for swimming and snorkeling. There are plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas available for rent. In the background are olive groves and the rocky scenery of the Mani region, so Ritsa Beach offers a serene and picturesque place for relaxation.

Ritsa Beach

Visit Patrick Leigh Fermor’s House

The House is open to the public with scheduled visits throughout the year. The museum ensures the preservation of the house and its contents. The Leigh Fermors also allow the property to be rented for 3 months per year. You can inquire about bookings here.

 

The Patrick & Joan Leigh Fermor House is considered one of the most beautiful properties in Greece. Within a Mediterranean garden of cypress trees, olive trees, fragrant shrubs, white oleanders and wild flowers rolling down to the sea, stand three stone buildings: the Main House with three suites, the writer’s studio right next to it, which is formed into the Traditional House, as well as the Guest House, adjacent to the Main House.

Patrick & Joan Leigh Fermor House, © Benaki Museum

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