Megali Mantinia

Megali Mantinia is on the beginning of the Messinian Mani, 16km at southeast of Kalamata and 2 km away from the beach of Santova. The village is built on hills full of olive trees having wonderful view to the Messinian bay, the ridge of Taygetos and Gorge of Rintomo. Megali Mantinia along with the settlements Avia, Akrogiali, Archontiko and Paleochora constitute the district of Avia.

Megali Mantinia was firstly mentioned as a settlement in 1463 with the name Ano Mantinea and it was renamed to Megali Mantinea in the late 18th century, when a smaller settlement, called Mikri Mantinea, was created in the area.

Megali Mantinea was gradually inhabited by residents of mountainous settlements of Taygetos, coming mainly from Altomira, Pigadia and Gaitses, consisting the modern population along with several Europeans who have bought and renovated the old tower houses. Notable examples of traditional architecture are still preserved on the village, whose economy relies heavily on oil production and tourism.

Attractions of the mid 18th century are the church of the Assumption, with a remarkable carved temple, the church of Saint Andreas, the Old School, the Monastery of Agioi Saranda, while nearby, other interesting places are also Kouroumpelo of Holy Trinity and Katafygi, an inaccessible cave in gorge of Santova with small opening, in which the inhabitants took refuge in cases of piracy and Turkish invasions.

Between Megali Mantinea and Avia, near the small church of Agioi Saranda there are the ruins of an ancient temple, probably of Artemis. There are offered countless hiking trails for mountain and nature lovers in stunning gorge of Rintomos.

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