One of the twelve baronies founded by Villeardouin in the Morea was the Barony of Passavas and included the region of Gytheio and Mani. In 1250 the first Baron was succeeded by his son, John (Jean) V De Neyguy, who in 1254 built the Castle of Passava, located 10 km SW of Gytheio, on the site of the Homeric settlement of Las.
The castle with its majestic walls and ramparts rises on the sides of the large and rugged cloister which is the only passage from the east to Mani thus effectively controlling the main entrance of Exo Mani to Oitylo and Areopolis.
The name is attributed to the French "Pas avant" which means "so far", because the march of the Franks was stopped at this closure, where the fortified Maniates intercepted their advance and did not let them cross it.
But this opinion should not be correct, given that the castle was created in order to monitor the Maniates, who throughout the Frankish period, faced the Franks as enemies, projecting constant resistance. Furthermore, while the castle was built in 1254, the name Passava was given to the area 45 years earlier, in 1209, by Jean A' de Neyguy.
In 1259 in the battle of Pelagonia, William Villeardouinos was defeated and captured by the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos and for his release he was forced to cede Laconia (and Mani) and its castles in 1262.
In 1481, the castle was handed over to the Turks, who occupied it until 1685, when it was liberated by the Maniates, remaining in their possession until 1715. Then it fell into the hands of the Turks, until 1780, when the Maniates and the Grigorakis massacred the Turks, and since then the castle remained under the sovereignty of Mani.
In the ruined trapezoidal castle with its spectacular view, we can see architectural remains of the barracks, cistern and mosque that once existed, the main and secondary gates, while the remains of the Frankish towers and bastions can be seen on the north side. Materials from the ancient city of La have been used in the construction, such as marble in the tank etc
Editor: Fotini Anastasopoulou