Mani Architecture and Vendettas – Southern Peloponnesia, Greece
In the photo below you see the fortified village of Vatheia, located on the Mani Peninsula in Southern Peloponnesia, Greece. Note the towers. This tower architecture sets Mani apart from the rest of Greece. There are over 800 such buildings spread throughout the region. Some towers are 20 meters high, typically 4-5 stories. Historically they served as both residences and carefully planned military objects.
The first of these fortification towers appeared in the second half of the 13th century.
The height of the tower depended on the importance and significant of the family that resided inside. It was not uncommon for a powerful family to keep another family from building a tower in equal or greater height to their own, or, in the case that such a tower had already been built, force the proprietor to lower it or destroy it completely.
An interesting and important aspect of Maniot culture which ties into the Mani tower architecture were vendettas, which frequently plagued Mani. The decision to start a vendetta would typically be made at a family gathering. The central aim of a vendetta was usually to wipe out the other family.The families involved locked themselves in their towers and whenever they got the chance would murder members of the opposing family.The other families in the village would also lock themselves in their towers in order not to get in the way of the fighting.
Some vendettas went on for months, sometimes years. In vendettas, the families could have a truce or treva, if one family needed to attend a religious ceremony or when it was time to harvest the crops.As soon as the treva ended, the killing could resume. Vendettas usually ended when one family was exterminated or when the defeated family left the town. Sometimes families came to terms, and vendettas stopped when the Turks invaded.The longest treva occurred when the Mavromichales declared war on the Turks in 1821. Vendettas continued after the liberation of Greece even though the Regency tried to demolish the towers.