Restoring a medieval tower house near Sparta as life project

In 1984 when Kostas Zouvelos and his fiancé saw a for sale sign on a crumbling early 19th-century on ’s , they decided to buy it and choose later what to do with it.

Fortified towers are ubiquitous across Mani () where a history of small – often just several family- settlements, or “” were built at key locations for self defense. The Maniots were never under Ottoman occupation like the rest of the country and they helped Greece gain independence in 1832. After the war homes and towers were abandoned in large numbers as the inhabitants of the peninsula emigrated to Athens.

Zouvelos and his wife Kassiani Theodorakakou spent eight years converting their collapsing tower into a three-room guest house. So intent on assuring that the building matched the environment, they changed the mortar color three times. To create the mortar, they used a traditional technique called kourasani, using lime, local soil, river sand, ceramic powder, and a small amount of cement.

Working with the building’s original footprint of 25 square meters per floor, the couple squeezed a kitchen/lobby on one and three bedrooms on the others, using space-saving features like an in-room shower, a carved-in-the-rock bed and a portable kitchen. They also created extra living spaces outdoors with a sun terrace, an infinity pool and a large patio with replanted 100-year-old olive trees.

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20 Comments

  1. After not eating oil for years now, I just realized, when he talked about making all that olive oil, that I don’t miss it. The place is cool. Nice to see what they’ve done with the ruins.

  2. I love his attention to keeping everything looking original as he makes it modern. I will certainly add this one to my bucket list!

  3. Absolutely Stunning! have watched what feels like every video you guys have produced and you are nearly at 1 million subscribers and you truly deserve it! the quality of your documentaries is incredible! Thank you for sharing these mini stories/doco’s with us all.

  4. The passion for the the location,the attention to historic detail, combined with functional mod design is brilliant. Could just be my next holiday destination! Cheers.

  5. I am truly amazed by this place and the work they have put in. It’s a great combination of modern and traditional. I can’t imagine how great it would be to live in a house like this, in that beautiful area. They are really lucky.

  6. aloha frm hawaii.
    very interesting… yes, a very unique build. the flavor of greece. how very special. i may never travel there but you have gifted us the feelings, the taste of that drink, the hunching down to clinb thru the tower, the view, the spaces they created for their guests.
    thank you/mahalo….

  7. Your weekly videos open up parts of the world that most of us would never know about. I started watching mainly for the sustainable living stories you document. But you bring so much more to us than that today. I likely will never see Greece but now know what I would or could miss. Thanks for sharing your journeys. It has become a Sunday ritual at our home to see what door you will open next. I’ve worked 163 days straight without a day off over the last few months and you have giving me 23 mini vacations during that time if but 30 minutes in each one.

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