The beautiful islet of Cranae, also known as Kranai or Marathonisi, is a must-visit destination off the coast of Gythion. Connected to the mainland by a causeway constructed over a century ago, this enchanting island is named after the abundance of fennel that grows on it. The lush pine forest provides a picturesque backdrop for taking stunning photographs and enjoying panoramic views of Gythion's neoclassical residences cascading down the hills.
According to local legend, Cranae played a role in the story of Paris of Troy and Helen of Sparta. The couple is said to have spent their first night of escape on the islet before leaving for Troy. The name "Kranai" is also linked to this legend, as Paris is believed to have left behind his helmet, known as "kranos" in Greek.
Visitors to Cranae will find plenty to explore, including the Tzannetakis Grigorakis Tower, which now houses the esteemed Historical and Ethnological Museum of Mani. This tower was built in 1929 for the Grigorakis family and offers a glimpse into the region's cultural heritage. On the other side of the islet stands the grand Kranai Lighthouse, one of Greece's oldest lighthouses, constructed from Tainaro marble in 1873. Its imposing presence adds to the allure of the islet.
For those seeking a serene ambience and breathtaking views of Gythion, the charming chapel devoted to St. Peter (Agios Petros) is a must-see. This location is popular for weddings, drawing numerous couples to the island. Cranae is designated an archaeological site by the Ministry of Culture, providing a rich history and natural beauty that is waiting to be explored and cherished.