A shelter, a murder

By on March 21st        0 Comments   /   show comments


Travelling to the Peloponnesus never stops to amaze me. On this new trip, surprises succeeded one after another.

I was really enjoying my days in Kyparissi… It is a forgotten seaside village, on the shores of the Myrtoan Sea, with a remarkable architecture.

Κυπαρίσσι, Λακωνία

That very morning I got up early and decided to search for a dirt road that the shoemaker of the village had suggested to me, as we were enjoying some freshly caught sea breams, the other night at the tavern.

I started from the neighborhood called “Metropolis” and drove to the edge of the bay. I passed Aghia Kyriaki and a beautiful beach full with white pebbles. It just had dawned a clear sunny day in January.

Further away, at some distance, smoke was on the rise from the olive groves. Farmers were burning freshly cut branches from olive trees.

I stopped to take a photo in an ancient thyni (thynneion, from the word thynnos, in ancient Greek: tuna) a fish trap at the shore, where fishermen bring jacks and tuna in May and keep them alive until they are sold. It was so, since ancient times… “Even today that’s the way we fish. Come here in May and you will see for yourself”…shouted Uncle Nick who was checking the shallow rocks for octopuses.

Κυπαρίσσι, Λακωνία

The dirt road drove me into amazing landscapes All of them deserted and empty. The slopes of Parnonas mountain dive in the Myrtoan Sea draped by lentisk, myrtle, abundant oaks, wild olive and aspalathos. Rocky coves succeed each other. Coastlines with white cliffs disappear after a turn of the road into shrub lands. Nothing indicates that there are people here.

And suddenly I saw it. In a place of nowhere, lost-or better- hidden, a stone village was playing hide and seek with the shadows of the olive grove. Humble stone houses were embraced with small ovens which have a unique triangular nozzle (somewhat unusual and very interesting). And not a living soul to be seen. Here, only the birds break the silence.

Kapsala village. Away from everywhere. Hidden from anything.

Κυπαρίσσι, Λακωνία

“Why do people come here?” I asked myself turning off the engine. What are they doing here in such absolute, absolute solitude? I see no soul.

“Well … good  morning …” shouts George Mavromichalis holding a large “touloumotyri” (special local cheese that matures into a well crafted goat’s skin) in his hands.  We sat together next to a weedy old threshing floor, and silently we stared at the sea. “Well, I guess you do not know about this village’s story?” he asked, breaking the silence ” Nothing, nothing at all… I even wondered why people come here … “I confessed.

“They were from the Mavromichalis clan in which belonged the killers of the governor Kapodistrias…”. I shuddered. He started narrating… the rest of the story. How the families of these killers (or at least many relatives) came here to hide from the shameful murder in the stillness of the olive groves. All, in self-exile. That is why almost all the people from Kapsala village are called by the surname “Mavromichalis” up until now. They live in Kyparissi, where there are also many Mavromichalis descendants.

Let me remind you however, that the two killers of the first Governor of Greece, after the Turkish occupation, Ioannis Kapodistrias – Constantine and George Mavromichalis – died in Nafplio, not here in peaceful solitude. Moreover, the first was lynched by the furious crowd immediately after the assassination of the Governor and the second was executed on October 10, 1831. It was so much the hate among the Greek people for the Mavromichalis family that some of them arrived here, by the desert Kapsala to live in shame for the rest of their – not so happy I guess – lives.

Κυπαρίσσι, Λακωνία

Κυπαρίσσι, Λακωνία

Today farmers from Kyparissi come to Kapsala at the time of harvesting the olives. So the few remaining stone houses are well preserved. In old times there were shepherds but very few stayed on and their folds are high up, on the Madara mountain. Only mister George makes cheese occasionally here in Kapsala. He makes the famous in the whole area “touloumotyri”.

I greeted him farewell and left him there sitting and smiling… amidst a dense, goat’s smell. I left Kapsala into the dark green fading light of the forest created by the oaks and the olives.

As I drove I kept thinking of the old residents of this village. The total outrage … and… the tragically murdered Governor. Ahh… poor Governor Kapodistrias … He was trying to create a decent state out of the chaos prevailing in the aftermath of the revolution for independence of Greece. Now he rests in peace …

Is Greece a country worthy of people like Kapodistrias?


Where am I?

Kapsala and Kyparissi villages are located in Laconia, on the eastern Peloponnesus. The best and quickest way to get here is through Sparta, Molaoi and Reichia. The most beautiful (and slower!) way is through LeonidioPeleta.



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