Kounos is the Municipal Compartment of Vytilo Municipality that consists of the following villages: Kounos, Aghia Kyriaki, Aghios Athanasios, Drys, Elaia, Kalopyrgo, Karava, Keria, Kypoula, Lagoudia, Pagia, Stavri and Trohalaka. It is built at 180 meters above sea level; the whole compartment has 356 inhabitants (census 2001), whereas in 1991 it had 465. Although Mani loses part of its population, it is still alive and strong like its stones.
The structure of the villages, the uphill roads, the stone houses, the Byzantine churches and the towers have all left their mark in time.
Aghia Kyriaki is the look out post at Mezapos’ bay. At Kounos, there is the five floor tower that belongs to Dikaiopoulos family and the stone tower-houses which are the property of Papadogona and Tragoulianos families. At Pagia, there is Petrogonas tower house, whereas at Stavri, there is Tsitsiris tower that operates as a traditional guesthouse.
Stone, wood and tiles are the basic materials for constructions, whereas the lanes that lead to the centre of the villages highlight the unique features of the place.
The scattered churches are also interesting; they are decorated with frescos and sculptures, such as “Pentagioi”, the two chapels with decoration of the 12th century, Aghios Sotiras and Aghios Mamas. Ahios Nikitas and Aghios Sotiras are dated back to 13th century, in village Drys, whereas Aghios Ioannis in Keria is a masterpiece of Byzantine art of the 12th century. Panaghia and Aghios Dimitrios still maintain their glory, despite the marks left by time. We shouldn’t forget mentioning Aghios Dimitrios in Kypoula.
Remnants of the past and witnesses of a glorious past! All over the place, there is a lyrical harmony that proves the eternal and time lasting course of our ancestors. A whole world built under these mountains, on the stones and the infertile earth of Mani after a lot of struggle, discipline and precision. Every stone is a surprise. The simple, naked, cruel beauty of the stone and the ruins are not just ghosts of the past. They are witnesses of our history.
Like all the villages of Mani, in the area of Kounos, the villages had as main occupation, farming and cattle breeding. In 1960, after the migrations, the way of life changed. Cattle breeding and farming cover now only basic needs.
The climate is healthy and calm with various natural beauties that attract visitors, especially, during summertime.
This place has remained untouched by development. Every thought about progress should be carefully studied. The sizes and new models applied to other places in Mani had tragic results. Ecotourism should educate about the environment and not alter the personality of the local communities. This seems to be the best solution for the revival of the economically deficient alpine areas.
This beautiful alpine corner hidden under the foothills of Taygetus maintains its uniqueness and the memories of another Greece, which is distant but not forgotten.