PALIOHORA AVIAS

The denomination Paliohora Avias  seems to be a pleonasm. Paliohora was the old, local denomination of the settlement and later, on 1926, it was renamed Avia  because there was the location of the ancient town. To define the location we have to use both names. Because since 1961 Arhontiko  belongs to Avia too. So, when we say Paliohora Avias  we mean the region of Paliohora, which belongs to Avia settlement, Avia municipal district and naturally the Municipality of Avia.

The traveler Pafsanias inform us that during the historical times, the town was renamed Avia, because of the name of Glynos milk-woman, son of Hercules, who came here to save the baby because she was chased from the Ahaious. The woman Avia installed here and found the temple of Hercules.

Avia town was at the pick for about 1400 years, from 11th to 3ed century B.C. and the town was very often the apple of discord between Spartiates and Messinii.

We do not know when the mediaeval Mantinia was found. Following the tradition it was found by the Mantidis, refugees from the Mantinia – Arkadia.

The mediaeval  Mantinia is the key of Mani and has an important role on 15th century, during the conflicts between Venetians, Turks and Byzantine Dominators of Mystra. Mantinia is a special location  for that time with a great importance because of its fortress, port and fertile land. Its history is combined to the other  towns of Messinia, like Giannitsa, Kalamata, Nisi, Androusa, etc.

At the middle of the 15th century  the conqueror  of Mantinia was Thomas Palaiologos.

Some of the residents lived in a mountainous settlement, the Ano Mantinia, to be safer,. They make reference to this settlement  for the first time on 1463. The residents call the two settlements Pano Hora and Kato Hora.

At the earlier of the Venetian domination, end of the year 1675, close to Mantinia, a new settlement was found, which, since 1700, was called Mantinia Mikri (Small) in contradiction to the mediaeval Mantinia. Finally there are two settlements, Mikri and Megali Mantinia (Small and Big Mantinia) which are part of Municipality of Avia. At the end of 19th century the residents of Megali Mantinia  come back to the coastal zone and found the three settlements Paliohora, Arhontiko and Akrogiali.

As these settlements become bigger and bigger, since 1924 Paliohora is the center of the community. On 1926 Paliohora was renamed Avia  and the community of Avia.

Since 1998 it is a municipal district of the Municipality of Avia.

Mikri Mantinia, after the earthquake on 1944, was abandoned and the residents came to live at the coastal zone of the settlement.

Finally, since 2000, Mikri Mantinia is a municipal district of the Municipality of Kalamata.

A SEASIDE RESORT THROUGHOUT THE TIME

A place is a resort when there is natural beauty and salubrious  climate.

As for the climate of the area: low humidity and the not elevated temperature. Mild climate during the winter and few rains. In summer, at midday, the sea breeze (called boukadoura) comes from KoroniΥs area and at night the land breeze from the mountain Taygetos (called vorisma).

The profuse vegetation and the beautiful coasts form a wonderful combination  of mountainous and sea area. That is why Asklipeio was found at the Ancient Avia.

Until the end of the classic time, Avia was a therapeutic centre, we could say, a resort for ΤmedicalΥ  tourism.  During the 15th century, here was the resort of Palaiologoi, the dominators of Mystras.

So we could say that following the Byzantine times, Mantinia was known not only because of the Castle and the port but as a resort place too for the families of the nobles. That is why the famous Byzantinologist   Tzanis Papadopoulos, 50 years ago, named the region of Paliohora Byzantine RivieraΥ.

Newest   period

There was the period of the Turkish occupation during which there was no possibility of it being a resort. The residents were installed at Magali Mantinia. Paliohora  and the neighbouring  seaside were almost deserted until halfway through the 19th century.

Paliohora and the coastal zone, from Arhontiko to Santava, was the economical zone of the residents of Megali Mantinia, who had land with olive trees and fig trees, vineyards, gardens, etc. in the region. They had also fighouses, huts where they  went during the summer when they collected the figs.

They went to the sea to wash the loupina to remove the bitterness from them, to wash their clothes,  and the carpets which they beat with a wooden dolly (kopanos)  and then they put them on the pebbles. The place was named Kopanous, a coast today named Akrogiali.

The commercial transport to Kalamata was done by using the animals along the paths. There were two roads. That is why later these roads were covered with stone.  These were the cobbled roads, at the end of 19th century, and where they  crossed the rivers they  built bridges (gefyri). Even now  some of them  are in a good condition, like Biliovos passage, coming down from Altomyra, the Pigadiotiko gefyri, etc.

Many people used these roads and they carried their products, their olive oil, the wine and the figs. Mule-drivers of Paliohora were barba-Thodoros Belitsos and Kostas Nikoleas. But there were also some men form Selitsa, like Zouzoulas.

Along these same roads, high school students came on foot to their villages to get their provisions for the week. And the mothers traveled on them too, carrying their children when they were sick to the doctor, particularly when there was an outbreak of the disease Τspleen kalazari, they went to Kalamata  to get injections.

So at the end of 19th century, because of the needs of commerce, the settlement of Paliohora was founded. As  there were poor road facilities, they traveled from the sea. (the road arrived to Paliohora in 1938, and at Megali Mantinia during the decade of 1950).

Apart from the seasonal commercial transport with the barges, there was the regular transport with the motor-launches which could carry 50 passengers.

Apart from the commercial relationship, the residents of Megali Mantinia and Paliohora had close relations with Kalamata, in many sectors. That was normal because Kalamata was the nearest town to the village. These communications existed before 1821, and became stronger after the liberation.

Some families from the villages were installed in Kalamata during 19th and 20th centuries. Their families came back to the village during the summer and for every other occasion like holidays, marriages, Christmas, etc.

Little by little, the region became well-known to the other bourgeois families of the town of Kalamata, and they came here to spend the summer time. As the number of the summer visitors increased they went also to the other settlements   like Arhontiko and Koukinos and later to Akrogiali.

From the end of the 70s, summer visitors began to have better facilities. There was now electricity at the village, the road was covered with asphalt, and there was a water supply.  The olive tree land become construction plots. New residences were built,  some of them only for renting out. There were also some hotels.

EPILOGUE

Today Paliohora, is  too built-up, but its permanent residents are no more than 50. The village is alive only in the summer and during the big holidays. During this time the number of residents is doubled.

In spite of tourism, the village is still loved by the people of Kalamata because they have had bonds with the area for decades.

BELITSOS THEODOROS

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