The Mourtzinos tower – Μυθική Πελοπόννησος

The Mourtzinos tower

Situated in Kardamyli is one of the many remarkable towers found scattered across the wider area of Mani. It is the tower of Troupakis Mourtzinos, an important captain of the Greek Revolution of 1821. It was built in 1807 and is an area worth visiting.

The Mourtzinos Tower is essentially a fortified complex, which includes various buildings. Upon entering, the visitor comes across the church of Aghios Spyridon, which was the private church of the Mourtzinos family, something which signified their high financial and social status. There is also the so-called tower house, or ontas, where the lodgings were located, which had a defensive purpose, as well as the main tower, which was the ultimate refuge in case of a siege. The tower complex also included a cistern, vegetable garden, olive mill, as well as a workshop area which has been identified as a forge, the only one discovered so far in the area of Mani.

Troupakis, or Mourtzinos, was a famous captain from the region of Mani, who played an important role during the 1821 Greek Revolution. His family’s castle is located in Kardamyli and it’s a fortified complex estimated to have been built in 1807.

Its arched gate is half destroyed. In the entrance of the complex there is an imposing church dedicated to Agios Spyridon, which was the private church of the Mourtzinos family. The fact that they actually had a church in the courtyard of their castle indicates their social and financial status. It is a one-aisled basilica with a dome -quite a common type at the time- that masterfully combines the Byzantine style (sculpted two-headed eagles and octagonal dome) with the Western (pointed arches and round skylights). Its bell tower is impressive and its bell is in fact a pirate plunder. Reportedly, the church is much older than the rest of the buildings. For its erection, material was used from other, older structures. It also features a four-storey bell tower.

Among the buildings of the complex there is also the so-called “Ontas” or tower house, which was built during the Second Venetian domination and is a three-storey building constructed for the purpose of defense. The stables, utility spaces and storage rooms are located on the ground floor, while the residential areas were spread over the various floors. The main building was constructed at the end of the 17th century and was accessed through a wooden drawbridge, which led to the first floor. Inside the premises of the castle there was also a smithy, a vegetable garden to cover the needs of the family, as well as an oil mill, since olive oil was one of the most important products of the region. Visitors have the opportunity of seeing part of its production mechanism. The castle was supplied with water through an underground cistern, which through a pipe network would channel the rainwater.

The Castle of Mourtzinos hosted the great chieftain Theodoros Kolokotronis for few months, when, on January 6th, 1821, he arrived there from the island of Zakynthos. Having the castle as a starting point and together with other militants, they began their struggle to liberate Kalamata.

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