Limeni (Λιμένι) in Mani (Μάνη), in the south Peloponnese, is one of those magical places that if you visit it once it is certain that you will never forget it. It is a small settlement and harbour, with a long and important history that leaves its visitors speechless with its unique wild beauty and the emerald waters of the sea. Limeni, which is the port of Areopoli (Αρεόπολη), is considered the homeland of the great hegemonic family of Mavromichalides (Μαυρομιχάληδες), which ruled Mani for many years and was distinguished in the Greek liberation struggle of 1821, as well as in the political life of Greece.
According to the local tradition, when in the 14th century the Turks conquered Eastern Thrace, some Greek families escaped by boat and reached the shores of Mani. One of the Greeks was an orphan boy named Michalis (Μιχάλης), whom the locals called Mavromichalis (Μαυρομιχάλης) because of his black (mavro/μαύρο in Greek) fate. That boy became the founder of the historical family, whose members the people of Mani called “fairy-born”, probably because of their impressive beauty.
The castle of Mavromichalis with the imposing four-storey tower and the arched openings still exists in Limeni and testifies to the glamour of the family. The castle was probably built in 1762 and was called “Sissitio” (Συσσίτιο) because Mavromichalis offer it to his soldiers for accommodation and food. The building was abandoned at the end of the last century by the descendants of the family, but has now been restored by the Greek Ministry of Culture.
Today Limeni (along with Areopolis) is a popular tourist destination. Especially in the summer months, people flock to the small port to enjoy its unique waters. There is no beach, there are several small stairs and platforms on the rocks that help you approach and dive into this unique natural pool. Also in the small bay, there are several restaurants and cafes that also offer access to the sea (tip: leave your car at the beginning or end of the one-lane road that crosses the settlement because parking is difficult in the summer). If you are lucky, you could meet sea turtles swimming nearby, because Limeni is also a natural sea turtle habitat (but be careful not to touch them because you do not know how they will react).
Limeni has become so popular that it is possible to loose its unique ambience, but the unforgettable image of the emerald waters and the stone houses that you see while swimming is sure to have a prominent place in the album of your best travel memories.