What is the connection between the island of Syros and Mani?
Between the industrial museum of Syros and Gerolimenas?
Between Gerolimenas and Marseilles?
The answers are to be found by visiting the Kyrimai Hotel in Gerolimenas, Mani.
Back in the 1870s, Michalis Katsimantis, a trader from Syros, and Theodore Kyrimis, trader and mayor of Middle Mani, developed an idea that would put the area of Mani on the commercial map of what was then free Greece.
Maniot products were soon being transported by coastal shipping and sold in the markets of Ermoupolis and Piraeus, and all sorts of other products began to flow down into this southernmost tip of the Peloponnese.
Exploiting the development of trade in the whole area and taking advantage of his powerful social position, Theodore Kyrimis was soon exporting the products of Mani all over the Mediterranean Sea. At one point 7000 live quails a month were being exported for consumption in Marseilles!
Today the old store, the residence, the warehouses, and the imposing tower have been restored and converted into a hotel run by the Kyrimis family. The name ‘Kyrimai’ is derived from the Byzantine root of the surname Kyrimis, that is to say from the biblical phrase ‘Kyrios imon’ (our Lord).
With its impressive arch and antique safe, the old wine store now forms the reception area. Next to it, the old wood store houses numerous exhibits, including records and other documents as well as hundreds of books, which were discovered when the old buildings were cleared out. A veritable treasure trove, the study of which takes us back to Greece’s times of commercial glory in the nineteenth century.
Meanwhile in Syros, Michalis Katsimantis’s paint factory has been converted into an industrial museum under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture.