Areopolis

In Areopolis, the typical Maniote tower houses begin to appear in earnest as spooky sentinels in the harsh landscape. The town was renamed after Ares, the god of war, because of its role in the War of Independence: Petrobey Mavromichalis, governor of the Mani, initiated the local uprising against the Turks here (his statue stands in the square, and his descendants have turned the family’s seaside mansion in nearby Limeni into a stunning small hotel). Areopolis now enjoys protection as a historical monument by the government, but although the town seems medieval, most of the tower houses were built in the early 1800s. The Taxiarchis (Archangels) church, which looks as if it has 12th-century reliefs over the doors, was actually constructed in 1798. It's easy to slip vicariously into a time warp as you meander along dark cobblestone lanes past the tower houses with their enclosed courtyards and low-arched gateways.

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