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Cape Matapan (Greek: Κάβο Ματαπάς, or Ματαπά in the Maniot dialect), also known as Cape Tainaron (Greek: Ακρωτήριον Ταίναρον), or Cape Tenaro, is situated at the end of the Mani, Greece. Cape Matapan is the southernmost point of mainland Greece. It separates the Messenian Gulf in the west from the Laconian Gulf in the east.
Cape Matapan has been an important place for thousands of years. There is a cave at the tip of Cape Matapan that Greek legends claim was the home of Hades, the god of the dead. The ancient Spartans built several temples there dedicated to various gods. On the hill situated above the cave lie the remnants of an ancient temple dedicated to the sea god Poseidon (Νεκρομαντεῖον Ποσειδῶνος). Under the Byzantine Empire, the temple was converted into a Christian church, and Christian rites are conducted there to this day. Cape Matapan was once the place where mercenaries waited to be employed.
At Cape Matapan, the Titanic's would-be rescue ship, the SS Californian, was torpedoed and sunk by German forces in 1915. In March 1941, a major naval battle, the Battle of Cape Matapan, occurred off the coast of Cape Matapan, between the Royal Navy and the Italian Regia Marina, in which the British emerged victorious in a one-sided encounter. The Battle's main result was to drastically reduce future Italian naval activity in the Eastern Mediterranean.
More recently a lighthouse was constructed but it is now in disuse.
As the southernmost point of the Balkan Peninsula, the cape is on the migration route of birds headed to Africa.