KELEFA

Municipal Compartment of Vytilo Municipality, Kelefa village has 59 permanent inhabitants (census 2001). Kelefa is a balanced, elegant and friendly village with both traditional and modern aspects.

In 1618, it had 600 inhabitants, in 1928, 247 and in 1991, 114. Despite the decline in population, as in the rest of Mani, it is still alive. It sits at 240 meters above sea level. To the West, there is the superimposing reknowned Kelefa castle. It was built in the 17th century, around 1670, for defensive purposes, but mainly to protect the commercial port of Vytilo from Kaze Ali and is an example of Turkish architecture. In 1685, it was occupied by the Venetians after a siege. All those years, it served as the headquarters of Hasan Pasha. They appointed Vernando Vlavi as general supervisor of the castle. They transformed it to one of the most powerful castles of Peloponnese, but kept it until 1715, when it was again taken by the Turks. Today, it lies abandoned like many other monuments of Mani waiting for human protection. The surrounding walls, two towers, one canon and some deserted buildings inside still exist. The view from the castle is wonderful with the sunrays falling on the blue waters of Vytilo bay.

Built in a gorge, the village maintains traditional architecture both in the old and new houses in a unifying way. Some of them are permanent residencies and some others are used only in summer.

Walking around the cobbled lanes, the visitor gets to know a different side of the village; that of the elders. The smell of homemade food, the chat of the housewife with her neighbour, the return from the Mass of an old couple, the Greek coffee at the traditional kafeneio and two words with the good-hearted old men are all images that are rarely seen nowadays.

Beauty and harmony coexist. Everything seems so ideal. A sense of calmness, peacefulness and serenity is all around. Images of the scented herbs and sounds of the leaves and the flying birds also add to this atmosphere.

Old Kelefa still maintains features of the glorious past. The picturesque cobbled lanes and the stone houses preserve their traditional colour.  The dressed stones and the wonderful arches uphold the style of an old but cared for village.

Antonis Roumaneas.

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