by Manolis Spanakis

by Manolis Spanakis

Gythio, Laconia

Arrival by boat from Kythira to this small port town of Southern Peloponnese at sunset. Long known as the seaport of Sparta some 40 km away, Gytheio used to be an important port for many centuries until it was destroyed by an earthquake. Today it is the largest and most important town in Mani.

The town is built on a hill called Koumaro or Larysio overlooking the Laconian Gulf, near the mouth of the Gythius river, which is usually dry. Further north-east is the delta of the Evrotas river. Offshore of Gytheio are several small islands, like Cranae, which is connected to the mainland by a causeway.

The reputed founders of ancient Gythium were Heracles and Apollo, who frequently appear on its coins or in other legends, and Castor and Pollux: the former may point to the influence of Phoenician traders from Tyre, who, we know, visited the Laconian shores at a very early period. 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 with a municipal life of its own.

diros Diros cave 1diros 2Diros cave 2 gythioGytheio kythiraKythira maniMani olympiaOlympia
myrtos 1Myrtos beach 1 myrtosMyrtos beach 2