The small island of Meropi off the coast of Kardamili, Messinian Mani, Peloponnese

The ‘little Island’ (‘nisaki’ in Greek) or what is also referred to as the island of ‘Meropi’ is situated off the coast of the small town of Kardamili in the Messinian section of the Mani Peninsula south west of the Peloponnese. The island is small and uninhabited. Its only building, a small chapel with house named after Virgin Mary on its north west side overlooking Kardamili, was built around the end of the 17th century for a small group of monks to keep as a monastery. The island also bares a remaining section of a Venetian fortress that can be seen from the bay of Kardamili together with the chapel. During heavy floods between 2001 and 2003, a section of the building collapsed and a supportive section was added. Findings from the Venetian period also include a marble lion’s foot that is displayed in the museum of Kardamili and a cracked bell that lies on the island. There is also an olive plain with a threshing floor and three cisterns one of which may still be used if needed.
A Venetian map of 1707 refers to the island as ‘La Mad’ presumably an abbreviation of 'La Madonna' the name of the church. The island has also been referred to as ‘Mile Limani’ deriving from ‘Kardamili Port’ while the British Navy mentioned it as ‘Chapel Island’. Nowadays, many locals refer to the island as ‘Meropi’, a Greek female name possibly given by a Greek soldier working for the geographical section of the Greek army after his beloved one. Finally, the island has also been referred to as ‘Amygdaloniso’ meaning ‘almond island’ after its almond-resembling shape.
Almost no historical or other material can be found on the island apart from a brief reference by Greek travel writer and journalist Kostas Ouranis and another equally brief by Evliya Celebi the Turkish traveler and civil servant who visited the Mani in 1670. He described it as, "A rocky and dry island, its Kastro is found on the north coast and in its interior are three churches and other buildings. There are many cisterns which provide water for the sheep and goats of villages opposite which graze the island." Evliya also tells how "The Gazis (Turkish soldiers) of Koroni attacked and destroyed the island with their frigates, transferring its inhabitants to the mountains opposite where they created the village of Prasteio…."
In 1862, the family of the current owner purchased the island from the monks. Today the island is also used as a mark for fishermen. Each year, on 23rd August a service takes place in celebration of Virgin Mary.

Text based on an interview with owner Mr.Takis Skoufis