A medieval tower house with sweeping views over the Mediterranean. Meticulously restored with modern comforts and an eye for textures, this 3 bedroom house provides an ideal base for exploring the nearby beaches, monuments and hiking areas of southern Greece, or simply sipping ouzo and soaking up history and sunshine in the 1200 square meter garden.
In the deepest south of old Greece, the Mani Peninsula, this is the beautifully restored tower house of the Manoleas family, with original structures dating from the 1600s. It has been fully modernized while retaining its original character, and decorated with local antiques. Located on the outskirts of Thalames, once the capital of the region in the Middle Ages, now a protected monument of winding streets and crumbling Byzantine churches. The house is set in beautifully landscaped gardens with ancient olive trees. The village sits at 450 meters altitude on the slopes of the Taygetus Mountains, 10 minutes from beautiful beaches
The Mani, a corner of ancient Greece: This is a property for travelers who want more than a usual resort vacation. Beaches there are plenty, some sand and some rocky, with crystal clear water for snorkeling, and the Taygetus mountains behind them offer amazing hiking country. What is unique however is the opportunity to live in a restored piece of history, a medieval tower house in a working Greek village. The olive mill is just down the road, local honey and mountain herbs are sold in the village square, and vans selling fresh fruit and vegetables come by daily. The village has cornerstones with ancient Roman and Greek inscriptions, Byzantine churches are hidden around many corners, and ancient Sparta is just 30 km away, on the other side of the Taygetus.
Not your standard rental property: Pyrgos Manoleas is our home, not a rental property. We spent many years touring Greece before finally deciding on Thalames and this property, which we bought in completely decrepit state from the Manoleas family. We spent 5 years, a huge amount of resources, effort and affection on restoring it to its original glory, bringing antique oak planks from Turkey for the floors, hand crafted tiles from Italy, hiring a German master craftsman to supervise works, and a talented Greek architect for the overall design. The garden has been carefully landscaped to provide many sitting areas with different ambiance and views for every season. The ancient olive and mulberry trees have been preserved, with Mediterranean flowering shrubs and aromatic plants rambling over old stone walls. We hope to retire there someday, and in the meantime rent it to people we consider guests, not clients.
Management: We live and work in Italy, but our property is managed for us by our friends Yoanna and Kiriakos, who take care of the garden and house. They live in the main part of the town, just a few hundred yards away, where Kiriakos runs one of the two local coffee shops. They can supply basic provisions, however a car is recommended for ease of movement, as public transport is limited
We are a French-American couple who both work in humanitarian and development aid, currently with the United Nations, so our lifestyle is quite nomadic. We've lived in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Sudan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Congo and a few other countries in between. We are currently Rome based, but as soon as our daughters build up the required antibodies we'll be off again.
I've been visiting Greece regularly since the 80's, and we decided to buy a property in 2003. After 2 years of house hunting across Crete, Kythira and the Mani we decided on the Thalames-Platsa-Langada area of the Exo-Mani as the best mixture of proximity to beautiful coastline, breathing space outside the crowd, longer sea views, and being a few degrees cooler in the summer. The unique fortress architecture of the Mani was also a big draw, but finding a pyrgos-spiti (tower house) to restore was not easy as they rarely come up for sale. Thalames was our first choice due to friends, amazing location, and special conservation status.
While there are many beautiful properties for rent in Greece, there are few restored antique properties, for the simple fact that it is very expensive and time consuming to restore them. Pyrgos Manoleas is the real thing, with the main structure dated to 1686, and the 'newest' part to the mid 1800s, located on the outskirts of a town already described by Pausanias 1900 years ago. Thalames is a working Greek village, where you can enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of a traditional town, just ten minutes' drive from amazing beaches and coastal resorts.