The main road running from Areopolis to Gythio follows a fertile, river valley and takes around 40 minutes to complete by car. This is the quickest route to get to Sparti/Mystras from Stoupa/Kradamyli with the picturesque waterfront town of Gythio providing an obvious break en route. Spending more time in the area could involve visiting Passava castle and one of a number of excellent sandy beaches.Modern day Gythio is the eastern gateway into the Mani, and mainly consists of photogenic, neo-classical buildings as it only developed into a town in the mid 19th century. Prior to this, it was little more than a village. The port sees a few cruise ships come and go and there is a weekly ferry to Kythira and Crete. At the far end of the town as you approach are numerous banks, the bus station and tourist information office and the remains of a Roman theatre. It is a very pleasant place to stop for lunch, to stay in overnight or just to have a revitalising coffee en route to Mystras. Its late recent development hides a long and varied history. As you descend into the town the first thing you’ll see is the island of Kranai (now called Marathonisi- ‘fennel island’) linked by a causeway. On the island is the tower of Zanetbey Grigorakis which has been restored and turned into a Mani Museum and there is also a small church which has been built on the foundations of an earlier temple. The museum does not contain “artefacts” from Mani or a great deal about its history but has an excellent display about the various travellers who visited and wrote about Mani over the centuries and some architectural details on various towers and buildings.
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