KIPOULA-ANO POULA

Kipoula is a traditional village at the Municipality Compartment of Kounos in the Municipality of Vytilo. It has, according to the census of 2001, 31 inhabitants.

At the west side of the village, lies a huge and steep rock 5km long and 300m high, like a huge natural fortress. The flat part on the peak of the rock is called Ano Poula; it used to be an area dwelled since ancient times and it has been many times identified by researchers, as the ancient Ippola.

Crossing Kipoula to the south after 500 meters and after the cemetery we come to Kastro, namely the Frankish castle of Megali Maini.

The view is breathtaking; to the east, the fertile part of Mani expands, from Gerolimena to Areopoli. To the west, the land is downhill to the sea. To the north, lies the sea coastal area of western Mani up to Zigochoria and the imposing Taygetus. To the south, there is the sea of Kavo Grosso.

Kastro was built by Gulielm Villearduine in 1250 ac, in order to accomplish the submission of the people of Mani, after the treaty of the Monemvasia castle. In 1259, he was arrested by the Byzantines at the battle of Pelagonia and in 1262, he was forced to exchange Kastro and the castles of Mystra and Monemvasia for his freedom. After the revolt of Mani against the Turks in 1480, Kastro is abandoned, probably because it was not threatened by the Turks. Pieces of pottery have been found from time to time at the west side of Kipoula. The English archaeologist A.M. Woodward, who in 1907 visited Mani, found pieces on the ground, of Laconic style originating from geometric to the Hellenistic times. He claims that before Pausanias and maybe later, the old town of Ippola was abandoned, because of natural causes, whereas the inhabitants moved to a new town of the same name.

The area of Ano Poula might have been the citadel of Ippola; the main part of the town must be the so-called Kipoula, where ancient villages have been found. The temple of Athena Ippolaitida, according to Woodward should be near the citadel of the town next to the Byzantine temples, which are built there.

Sotiras temple has only a few frescos, whereas Aghia Eleousa is built in a cave on Thirides cliff towards the sea. To the east side of the cliff there are the chapels of Aghios Jeorgios and Aghios Theodoros. Further down, there are the ruins of the Ai Lias church and the chapel of Aghios Nikolaos and Aghios Jeorgios. On the edge of the cliff, there is the temple of Aghios Filippos built in the 11th Cent.

Both nature and history, as we look at the vastness of the sea that unites with mountain Taygetus, amaze the visitor. Kastro is not anymore occupied with invaders, but safeguards the course of this place in time. A place that has offered so much but has been given so less. The past proves that Mani was never helped by anyone. All achievements were the result of personal effort. Walking around the area, one can discover a hidden beauty.  It is felt wandering around the lanes and castles; it is felt in the mysticism of the deserted churches and in the remnants of the past, the legends and the history of an era that created worthy personalities to continue this course.

Antonis Roumaneas

Bibliography: The castles of Mani, Pan S. Katsafadou

 

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