THE KAROUSSOS CENTER
THE BYZANTINE RIVIERA
Group Reservations Only up to 10 persons
(min 4 persons/ per group)
Tours from €35 per person
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Unfortunately, due to the cobbled streets, mobility-impaired visitors cannot reach the center. We would like to apologize and assure you that we are working on it.
THE MUST SEE
Suspended on the "blessed plain" as Homer called the Messinian bay, Karoussos Center hovers on Taygetos mountain, in the historical village of Verga, looking over the entire bay. Between the two castle cities, Mystras (Sparta) and Monemvasia, the region was the favorite resort for the Byzantines. Verga is located at an elevation of 211 meters, 8 kilometers from Kalamata, and was known by the name Selitsa until 1956.
In June 1826, the historic Battle of Verga took place, in which the Maniots, fortified behind the wall of Verga, defeated Ibrahim and so Mani remained unconquered. The wall of Verga looks like a lengthy rod, where the place took its name, because the word 'verga' in Greek language, means rod.
The cobbled path of Verga is a presumption of the traditional technique directly related to the memories of the inhabitants of the area, as well as its social, economic, cultural heritage, and cultural development from the middle of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century. As a result, the path has been designated as a monument by the Minister of Culture and Sports, in accordance with article 6 par. 1b of Greek Law 3028/2002.
Verga, like the rest of Mani, is of particular architectural interest, precisely because the stone buildings are not isolated and few, but numerous enough to form a distinct architectural style.
THE MANIOT HOUSE
The house was built in the late 1800s using the traditional Maniot megalithic structure and a local stone with a thickness of around 0.80 meters.
The late Byzantine fresco painter Yiannis Karoussos purchased the house in 1974 and it is still in his family's possession.
The devastating earthquake that struck the area in 1986 caused critical problems with the two-fold angled roof. The main goal of the renovation was to keep the masonry and the traditional roof.
The reconstruction was done in such a way that not only did not alter the characteristics of the Maniot house but actually enhanced them. The roof was rebuilt as a quadruple-pitched one with a variety of old wooden beams, while a metal matrix infused with a binder liquid was inserted all around the periphery of the stone masonry to ensure its safety.
The family allocates the house to the Karoussos Archives, to achieve its goals, provided it maintains its good condition.
The Karoussos Archives undertook the complete maintenance, renovation, and preparation of the Maniot house, to serve as a center of educational and cultural activities, as well as a place of hospitality for researchers, members, and friends of the organization.
The operation of the Center includes:
- educational activities at all levels of education,
- cultural events,
- round tables, meetings, and lectures,
- guided tours to the Center and St. Spyridon chapel,
- hosting of researchers
- cultural & religious programs
-the Karoussos Club, exclusively for the honorary members of the organization.
THE ENCLOSED GARDENS
[...] the (Byzantine) gardens also looked inward and invite quite inward-looking. The effect was achieved through the combination (or indeed conflation) of Edenic topos and the locus amoenus.
Loci amoeni were idealized places of classical literature. They were characterized by beautiful shady lawns or groves and usually featured a spring or brook, bird songs, flowers, and occasionally a sweet breeze.
Byzantine ekphraseis of loci amoeni, however, were more than literacy artifice. They had the power to transport the reader into the scene.
Veronica della Dora (2016) Landscape, Nature, and Sacred in Byzantium,
Cambridge University Press
The enclosed gardens, which are rich in all "virtues," inspire visitors. The one-of-a-kind location that houses the typical Flora Greaca example, combined with the cultural heritage of the Karoussos Archives, provides a true Byzantine locus amoenus. The gardens, built in the pure form of a Byzantine type of enclosure, carry two natures, namely the place of virtue and intellect and the place of a natural oasis.
The garden's design was inspired by the text of John the Geometer, one of the main figures of the Letters during the tenth-century Byzantine Renaissance. In this text, the poet praises his garden in Constantinople while playing with his brilliant literary abilities, with the art of the letters and the art of nature. The visitor's experience inside the enclosed gardens of the Karoussos Center is holistic, as art and nature merge.
THE"ALFRESCO" TERRACE: THE CANVAS OF NATURE
The Al Fresco terrace overlooks the entire Messinian gulf and allows the gaze to wander as the horizon's color palette changes even by the minute.
VISITING TERMS AND CONDITIONS
- We would like to welcome everyone to enjoy the peacefulness of the Chapel, the Center, and nature. We ask that all visitors take care to respect the sacred environment by following these guidelines:
Respect the silent, contemplative atmosphere
Help preserve the works of art by maintaining a safe distance.
Leave all food, liquids, and large bags outside of the Chapel and the Art Collection areas.
- While enjoying the environment, please follow the guidelines below:
Please refrain from climbing, littering, smoking, using glass and plastic containers, fires or grills, amplified music, and motorized vehicles, around the village.
Advance permission is required for events, gatherings, and commercial photography.
Mind that the cobbled pathways of the village require appropriate shoes, such as sneakers or any other flat type.
Leave all your waste at the Center's garbage cans, keeping the environment clean.
- The specific tour packages are for adults. It is strongly recommended to attend without children, under 12 years old. However, if you would like to come as a family, have in mind, that in these particular sessions, there are no extra services, like creative activities for kids, or babysitting. In case of a family visit, children under 12 years old have free entrance. Make sure that you will mention the number of children and their ages in the comment box on your booking form.
- The Center and the Chapel have a maximum capacity of 10 people in a time slot. The nature of the tours requires peacefulness, and therefore large groups are avoided.
- Bookings are to be made online. In case of cancellation a 24h notice, prior to the tour date is required, otherwise, the amount is non-refundable.
ACCESS TO THE CENTER
- Transportation to and from the Center is not provided. If your hotel is affiliated with Karousos Center and you are booking as a group, refer to the hotel's concierge, to book a shuttle bus.
All details are to be sent well in advance before your visit.
-The only way to get to the center is on foot. Guests arrive at a parking lot, where a Karoussos Center staff member awaits to pick them up and begin the tour. We will provide you with all the necessary information following your reservation.