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MESSINIA

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General Information

The ancient, fertile land of Messinia covers the southwestern part of the Peloponnese. Its northern borders are defined by Ilia, with Arcadia occupying the northeastern corner of the borderline. To the west lies the southern part of the Ionian Sea, which gives way to the Adriatic Sea, and that in turn to the vast Mediterranean Sea. The eastern border had always been the most turbulent, as it was from this direction that Laconia, a bitter rival for millennia, often invaded Messinia. But, glancing at Messinia, it is very difficult indeed to blame the Spartans of Laconia for their eagerness to conquer it; verdurous lowlands, endless olive groves, countless vine fields heavy with juicy grapes that grow so near the sea that they seem to hang over the water...and though these have remained unchanged for long centuries, there is more, such as traditional villages surrounded by fertile crofts, modern towns adorned with historical medieval castles and ancient fortresses, and spectacular archaeological sites. These is also the soft climate, with warm summers and mild winters, which somehow makes everything that grows on this land be of the highest quality. These are but a few of the multitude of reasons why Messinia is a place that worthy of visiting, if not living in. Moreover, the road network is adequate, while new highways under construction are facilitating access to it further yet.  Its infrastructure, in general, is more than adequate, but rapid development has been providing constant improvement. Its population is 176876 residents, while its extent covers 2991 sq.km.   

 

History - Culture

The land of Messinia favors its people, and man was quick to notice the fact. It naturally attracted human populations early in the history of mankind, especially in its western part, and has been inhabited since prehistoric years. The Mycenaean civilization flourished in the region, as is evident by the abundance of findings of this era all across the prefecture. This was the homeland of king Nestor, one of Agamemnon?s most powerful under-kings, and a major contributor to the expedition to Troy. His palace was in Pylos, his the capital city, which has been discovered by archaeologists. As the Mycenaean civilization fell into decline, rule of the land came to the Dorians with the participation of Achaeans. As there was no central power ?such as Mycenae had once been- to enforce obedience over a large territory, a long period ?from the 8th century BC until 370 BC- of continuous conflict with neighboring Sparta began, with the Spartans frequently taking control, but never winning a decisive, lasting victory. In 370 BC, Epaminondas of Thebes, the greatest power in Greece at the time, decided to establish an independent Messinian state. This endured until 146 BC, when the region came under Roman rule. As the conflict between Messinians and Laconians continued, Romans marched in effortlessly. During Byzantine times Messinia suffered many barbarian raids, mainly from Goths and Slavs, while it came under Frankish occupation in 1204. Later on, the region fell under the Turkish yoke (1460). In March of 1821, Messinia and its people revolted, and became major contributors in the Greek War of Independence. The noted Naval Battle of Navarino in Pylos (October 1827) was a landmark, and it sealed successfully the long struggle for freedom. With the assistance of French troops, Messinia was finally liberated in 1828.  

 

Sights

As it might be expected, Messinia is rich in archaeological sites and monuments of its rich historical past. What is more, is that the natural beauty of the region is no less enchanting. In the beautiful seaside city of Kalamata, the Frankish castle predominates, built on the remnants of the ancient acropolis, while the Old Town lies right below the castle. A walk through the towers of Old Kardamyli is fascinating, while the tomb of the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux) and interesting Byzantine churches can also be seen. Exiting Kardamyli there is the entrance to the unique Viros Gorge (20km long), while the gorge of Neda is a place of unimaginable beauty. The imposing castle in Methoni should definitely be visited along with the Venetian castle in picturesque Koroni. Kyparissia is a beautiful town with its own medieval castle and Byzantine fortress while there are also the remains of the ancient acropolis and vaulted Mycenaean tombs. At the site of ancient Messini, near Mavromati, extensive excavations have revealed significant findings. As ancient Messini was abandoned since antiquity, with no building layers on top the ancient site, it is among the best preserved ancient cities in Greece. The palace of king Nestor can be seen in the outskirts of Pylos, in the location known as Palaiokastro, while there is also a Frankish castle of 1270 -built on ancient structures dating far into the past- and Niokastro ?the new castle- built by the Turks in 1573. There are numerous Byzantine churches scattered all over Messinia, all holding incalculable wealth in paintings and carvings within them. Dreamy beaches of crystal clear waters are spread all over the extensive coastline of the region. It is difficult to pick any single one of them, but if one would have to do so, this should be Voidokoilia, to the north of Pylos. The hard land of Mani, its fortified villages spread across the desolate landscape, must be included in the visitor"s sightseeing agenda. The islets of Sfaktiria, Sapientza, and Proti, hold many treasures. As far as the last one is concerned, this may be literally, true, as it once served as a hideout for pirates. Mount Taygetos, the legendary mountain which forms the natural border with neighboring Laconia,  holds beauty that well lives up to the legends. Its green-clad villages such as Alagonia and Artemisa can easily be visited, and many discover here the meaning of an earthly paradise.

 

Entertainment-Sports-Shopping

As a popular destination for vacations, the tourist infrastructure of Messinia is well-developed and the services offered are of the highest standards. Accommodations of all quality levels and entertainment facilities are available not only in Kalamata, but also in the smaller towns and villages, particularly in Kyparissia, Filiatra, Pylos, Methoni, Koroni, Kardamyli, Stoupa, Petalidi, and many more. A wide range of hotel units, small hotels, rooms-to-let, camping sites, restaurants, taverns, coffee and pastry shops, bars and night clubs are at the disposal of all visitors, who will certainly be satisfied no matter what their preferences are. As a developed urban centre, Kalamata definitely has the best market and shopping places, but high-quality traditional agricultural products can be found everywhere. Some of the most celebrated local products are olives and olive oil, figs (fresh or dried), "pasteli" (sweet of sesame seeds and honey), wine, pork and sausages, while scarves and silk textiles from the Monastery of Aghioi Constantinos and Heleni in Kalamata should find their place in any visitors" luggage. As far  as sports are concerned, water sports facilities are offered in almost every beach. Volleyball, basketball and tennis courts can be found within most of the luxury hotel units" premises, while in Kalamata there is a yachting club, a National swimming pool, basketball and volleyball courts, as well as sharp-shooting facilities. Climbing on Mount Taygetos and trekking in the Viros or the Neda Gorge can be the experience of a lifetime.  

 

Access

There are regular flights from Athens to Kalamata. Bus services are carried out from Athens to Kalamata, Messini, Koroni, Pylos, Filiatra, Gargaliani and Kyparissia. The railway runs from Piraeus and Athens to Kalamata and Kyparissia.

 

Connections

Buses and trains link Kalamata, all the major Peloponnesian cities and Athens while local bus services link Kalamata, Tripoli, Pyrgos, Sparta and Aeropoli. Ferries depart from Kalamata to the Ionian Islands, Crete and Piraeus through Kastelli-Kythira.

 

Museums

In Kalamata one can visit the Archaeological Museum, the Folk Art Museum and the Municipal Gallery. There is a small Archaeological Museum in the village of Mavromati and in Pylos. In Thalames (Mani), there is a Folk Art and Historical Museum while the Archaeological Museum in Trifilia houses findings originating from the palace of King Nestor.

 

Alternative Tourism

Ecotourism, canyoning, archaeology, cultural, sporting (trekking, mountain climbing, water sports, scuba diving, sailing, yachting, jet ski, canoe, kayak).

 

 

Useful Telephone Numbers:

ΚΑΛΑΜΑΤΑ AREA CODE:  27210-

POLICE STATION: 27210-44600

TOURIST POLICE: 27210-44681

MUNICIPALITY: 27210-60700

NATIONAL TOURISM ORG.: 27210-86868

PORT POLICE: 27210-22218

RADIO TAXI STATION: 27210-26565, 21112

PORT POLICE: 27210-22810

TELECOMMUNICATIONS ORG.: 27210-91199

 

 

 

 

Photo Gallery
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