PIGADIA AND ITS VILLAGES. THE RIDOMO GORGE

Pigadia expands in eleven villages Pigadia (the central village), Kokkinochoma, Zeka, Dendra, Krya Vrisi, Rizana, Kefalovriso, Ridomo, Velitsi, Kafea and Klima. It is the most mountainous village of Exo Mani built 900 meters above sea level. The distance from Kalamata is thirty kilometers. The distances among the villages are not very long, one or two kilometers. Several stone paths cross all the mountainous area connecting the villages in order to cover the social and financial needs. In the era of Byzantium and the Turkish Empire until the Second World War the area greatly flourished. Since 1950, the inhabitants were moving close to the sea in search of better luck. Today, many of the villages are deserted and only during summer do people move back. They take their cattle up to the summer grasslands. Cattle’s breeding is one of their main activities. Nowadays, a lot of deserted houses are being preserved and renovated to serve as summer residencies. Despite the abandonment, there are still several cultural elements, which depict the simple but imposing features of the architecture in Mani. Several stone constructions threshing floors, cabins, water mills, stone refuges in the entrances of the caves are the remnants of a glorious past. Some of the villages do not even have electricity: they recently installed the electricity supply to Krya Vrisi and Rizana.

According to tradition, Pigadia was created by a fugitive who left from Pede Pigadia in Epirus and dwelled in the area. According to another version, the name Pigadia comes from the fountains of the area. The residents of Pigadia organize every year many folklore feasts, the most important being the one in the central square on the 1st Sunday of September.

In the past, there were more than 2000 residents; today, there are no permanent inhabitants any more.

Ridomo lies in the west part of Taygetus and crosses Sotirianika, Altomira, Pigadia, Kedro, Kabo, Megali Madinia and Ridomo village.

It starts from the foot of the highest peak of the mountain, which is Prophet Ilias. It is 2407 m high and flows to the Messinian bay in Santava.

The gorge is rich in geomorphologic elements. Along the gorge, there are several geologic formations, which were created by changes in the earth crust and the effect of water on limestones, which is the basic stone in the gorge. The horizontal slopes, the intense folds of the rock, the breaches, the gaps and the colorful rocks create a relief, which provoke intense emotions to the visitor. In certain parts, the two sides become too narrow, only 2 m long, whereas the height almost 200 m from the earth level. The flora of the gorge consists of bushes, evergreen deciduous plants, mixed forests of fir-trees and black pine trees, especially near Koskaraga and Toubia.

The combination of the natural relief and vegetation create a unique environment for the fauna of the area. The fact that many parts of the gorge remain intact from human activity is an advantage for the survival of the animals, which have increased considerably in quantity and quality.

Although this area does not seem to be very hospitable, it has been inhabited since the ancient years and developed both socially and economically.

In ancient times, the gorge was the border of Messinia and Laconia. It was also the only passage from the highest peak of Taygetus to Laconia. Three arched bridges are connected by the paths on both sides of the gorge. The one is in Koskaraka, right under the old bridge on the road to Kalamata-Kardamyli; the second is in Touba connecting the path from Sotirianika to Kabos and the third one, the so called “Pigadiotiko”, which is constructed on the narrowest part of the gorge and starts from the square in Pigadia up to Mili is the village Vorio Kedro. The several cultural features in combination to the wild natural environment have as an effect the increase of visitors, mainly mountain climbers and hikers, who either cross the gorge or go through the paths to admire the impressive landscape.

 

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