LYGEREAS village is located in the northern part of Mani (Kato Mani), amongst the south Taygetos Mountains, between the villages of Krini, Sidirokastro, Konakia and Platanos. Two ranges, Loutsa (855m) and Taifas (687m), protect the village from the weather. Lygereas is the smaller municipal district of the Municipality of Gythion and it consists of Lygereas village and the settlements of Ano Asteri (before Pano Sola) and Kato Asteri (before Kato Sola). It is 17 km. from Gythion and you can drive there from the Gythio – Areopolis or the Sparti – Gythio roads.
The settlement Ano Asteri, following the Presidential Decree, is a traditional settlement. In that area apart from the old houses there is the Maniatiko cluster of towers of Voutsiliani and the historical Skoufomitis. This location historically is particularly important because there was the residence and the hide-out of Captain Zaharias Barbitsiotis.
Skoufomitis is a natural well-fortified location. From this point, you can survey the surrounding area. Even now, there is still the small church of Panagitsa built by Captain Zaharias. It is a very old church and its hagiographies dated from 1844. Near the church, there is the abandoned settlement of Skoufomiti, with the traditional houses, most of them in ruins. There lived Zaharias and his officers.
Today we can see the ruins of ZahariasΥ towers as well as the cistern. Under the ruins there is a cave called ΤThe Hole of ZahariasΥ. The entrance to this cave is not easily accessible but, if you reach it, you can see inside the stalactites and stalagmites. According to tradition, there are three caverns far away from the entrance. Zaharias used the cave to store the munitions of his army and to escape when he was in danger. At the inner side of the cave there are landslides, blocking the access to the rest of the room and the other caverns.
It is probable that the locations of Sola and Skoufomitis (today they are settlements) existed before Lygereas village. Lygereas was the motherland of Harilaos Vasilakos, the Olympic champion (2nd in the 1896 Olympic Games).
For the last ten years there has been a very active association in the village and which publishes a bimonthly journal ΤCaptain Zaharias of ManiΥ. At the head of this important effort is the well-known, devotee of Mani, Donald – Georgios McPhail (his wife is Lili Vasilakou). The association has carried out some important infrastructure works in the village (roads, traffic-signs, a cultural center, telephone, etc.) and the village escapes from ΤignoranceΥ.
The village is watered from Agia Marina. There are olive trees and some walnut trees, oak trees, almond trees, cherry trees, locust trees, Indian figs, etc. The wild animals in the area include foxes and badgers and, up to a few years ago there were jackals too. Amongst the many birds in the area are thrushes, quails and partridges.
The climate is Mediterranean, mild during the winter and pleasant in the summer.
Finally, we will have a look at the churches of Lygereas village:
– Zoodohos Pigi (Source of Life): this church is the metropolis of Lygereas. ItΥs celebration is on the Friday after Easter. It is a basilica style and there is a very nice bell-tower.
– Sotiras: is located at pano Asteri and it is the biggest church of the area.
– Panagia: the small church of Panagia (Virgin) is at the top of Skoufomitis. There are some marvelous hagiographies dated 1844. ItΥs celebration is on 15th August.
– Agios Nikolaos: located in the cemetery of kato Asteri. There are hagiographies and itΥs celebration is on 6th December.
– Agia Kyriaki: a small church contemporary to the Panagia church, in Skoufomitis, and it is recently being restored.
- P. Dimakogiannis