Passavas (Greek: Πασσαβάς) or Las (Λας) is situated on the Mani Peninsula. In ancient times Las was a Spartan possession and in 218 BC the citizens of the city fought and routed and group of Philip V of Macedon's army. Las became part of the Union of Free Laconians in 195 BC when it separated from Sparta. The Spartans however recaptured the city in 189 BC. Sparta was then taken over by the Achaean League and Las gained its independence again. When the Romans took over most of Greece in 146 BC, Las and the other Free Laconian city continued to have independence. In Roman times, Las had a bath and a gymnasium.
The site is not mentioned in Byzantine times until the Frankish conquest of the Peloponnese, when Mani was given to the Baron Jean de Neuilly (or de Nully), who built a castle at Las. This castle became known as Passavant or Passavas, most probably after the family motto which was: Passe-Avant, "move forward"). Passavas was a small but important barony because it held the unruly Maniots at bay. When the prince of Achaea, Prince William II Villehardouin was defeated and captured at the Battle of Pelagonia, the Baron Jean de Neuilly was captured as well. Then, the Barony of Passavant passed to his daughter Margaret of Passavant, widow of the Lord of Lisarea Guibert de Cors (or d'Escors). She was forced to give up her castle and her barony as part of Villehardouin's ransom.
The castle was in use once again during the second Byzantine domination. The castle of Passavas was occupied by the Ottomans for a short time when they took over the majority of the Peloponnese, in a failed attempt to keep control over the Maniots who refused to accept Ottoman rule. In 1601, a Spanish fleet led by Alonso de Contreras that was raiding in the area surprised the Ottoman garrison and sacked the city. It was regarrisoned in 1669, by the Ottoman general Kuesy Ali Pasha. The castle was captured again in 1684 by the Venetians and the Maniots. The Venetians carried off the cannons and destroyed the city so it would not be used again. When the leader of the Maniots was executed by the Ottomans, his mother led the men of Skoutari who dressed up as priests on Easter Sunday and were allowed entry to the castle. When they got in they took out their hidden weapons and not many of the 700 families inhabiting the castle escaped. The castle was abandoned after that and has not been inhabited since.
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