© Eva Tzisnova

Bucket List
Broaden Up Your Horizons
Cape Tainaron
The Gate to the Underworld

Whoever hasn’t heard stories about Cape Tainaron loses all the magic of that absoluteness. Situated 65 kilometres away from Gythio, on the southern tip of Eastern Mani, Cape Tainaron definitely aspires an experience of a lifetime. Travelling towards Cape Tainaron, an indescribable feeling of awe will overpower your soul. Few places in Greece are connected with such myths and legends. The identity of Mani is clearly reflected in the landscape. From timeless mountains and picturesque villages by the beautiful blue sea to wild sceneries of naked beauty, tower-houses built with the local stone and emerald seawaters; definitely Mani has a sensation of mystery in this unique region of Greece. Laconia ends at the sharp tip of the Laconian peninsula at Cape Tainaron. Situated in the peninsula of Mani, of southern Peloponnese, with the Laconian Gulf in its east and the Messenian Gulf in its west, Cape Tainaron is the genuine star of Mani. Mythology has it that the name of the cape derives from the mythical hero and son of Zeus, Taenarus, who was believed to have built a town at the narrow isthmus located near the tip of the peninsula. History traces the name as Cavo Matapas during the period of the Frankish rule; some believe that the latter name derived from the ancient Greek Metapea akra, meaning a place surrounded from two seas, as is this peninsula. Under the glorious cape of Tainaron, lies the imperious Cave of Hades, else known as the Gate to Hades, the mythical gate to the underworld that was guarded from wild Cerberus, a vicious beast that prevented the dead from escaping and the living from entering the world of the dead. According to myths and legends, the cave was the place where Orpheus entered the underworld in search of his lost love, Eurydice and Hercules entered the underworld, following the command of King Eurystheus, in order to bring Cerberus to earth for his twelfth labor. At the very tip of Cape Tainaron, the southernmost point of mainland Greece, a lovely hiking route leads to the lighthouse of the cape. Whether the myths are true or not, the Spartans did believe that Tainaron was a highly significant place of worship, and they built several temples to their gods along the rocky headland. One of the most prominent, among the surviving remnants, is the remains of the temple dedicated to Poseidon, the God of the Sea. Undeniably, the southernmost point of mainland Greece has a distinctive atmosphere, desolate and barren, and the short walk (40 to 50 minutes) to the lighthouse is one of the most rewarding hiking routes of the Peloponnese peninsula. Upon arriving at Kokkinogia, it is hard to believe that this view was once a thriving ancient town, as recorded from Pausanias. The barren hills and the panoramic view to one of Greece’s best vantage points, clearly shows the significance of this geographical spot. Walking around reveals enough information in order to allow your imagination to think of what once was here. Standing on the small promontory, travellers will find the semi-ruined church of Asomati, while continuing towards the lighthouse, you will find the mosaic that – probably -belonged to the Temple of Poseidon. Leaving the site, the route continues with direction to the world-famous lighthouse of Tainaron. Nature lovers will definitely fall in love with the spectacular hiking route towards the imposing lighthouse of Cape Tainaron, with a height of 16 meters, which was constructed in 1882, and continues to guide transmitting ships in one of the busiest locations in the Mediterranean. Undoubtedly, Cape Tainaron provides one of the most satisfying views of the region towards the Mani peninsula and the Gulf of Laconia.