Messinia, a living museum of Greek history…
The first human presence in Messinia dates from approximately 8.000 years ago. Neolithic sites at many places, the Palace of Nestor in Ancient Pylos, many Mycenaean tombs, the Temple of Epikourios Apollo, Ancient Messini, tens of Byzantine churches and monasteries, the Venetian castles but also the tower-houses of the Messinian Mani, reflect the rich history of the region, which runs through the centuries and is lost in the depths of time.
Mycenean Vaulted tombs : Burial monuments of the 2nd millennium BC, the vaulted tombs are complicated buildings, which, according to the archaeologists, first appeared in Messinia before expanding into the remainder of the Hellenic territory. Such vaulted tombs exist in each corner of Messinia.
The "classic" sites: Ancient Messini-Ithomi, one of the best-preserved ancient cities in Greece, one of the most important “megalopolis” of Greece during the Hellenistic and Roman years and capital of the free Ancient Messinia, for seven whole centuries. It is a rare archaeological site, where the visitor is impressed by the view of the temples, houses, walls and public buildings, most of which are maintained in a very good condition. At the same time, one feels an immense sense of emotion in a place where the history of the region is imprinted on its landscape.
The temple of Epikourios Apollo: in the region of Vasses, lost in the wild landscape, appears the "second Parthenon", one of the most important and well preserved temples of antiquity. Dedicated by the residents of the region to Apollo, as an act of gratitude for exempting them from the plague epidemic during the Peloponnesian War, the magnificent temple of Epikourios Apollo was built in the 5th century by Iktinos, the genius architect of the Parthenon.
The Palace of Nestor : It is the popular name of the Mycenaean Palace of Upper Eglianos - as it is called by the archaeologists - which reminds us of the homeric narrations about the wise king of Pylos. The palace, which thrived from 1300 up to 1200 B.C, had two floors, three central groups of residences, stocking spaces, workshops and sideboards and a throne room with multicoloured murals and painting representations, that adorned the wooden roof, columns, the circular “hestia” (fireplace) and the floor.
The Historic Monuments:
The Castles of Messinia: The turmoil and the long-lasting wars, but also the geographic position of Messinia, led to the fortification of many cities with impressive castles which have been preserved up to this day. Their architecture follows the developments of martial technology and fortification techniques. Impressive amenities, such as the aqueducts, were built inside the castles, in order to ensure the survival of the population who lived or took refuge there during raids. Most castles were built mainly by the Francs on the sites of older Byzantine or ancient Greek buildings and were later reinforced by the Venetians, always aiming to provide secure shelters for seafarers and for their own travels to and from Venice.
The Byzantine churches and monasteries :Full of splendid Byzantine churches and monasteries, Messinia hides within it an exceptionally interesting Byzantine past which the visitor is called to discover. The traditional villages and historical centers of messinian towns : Most towns of Messinia are picturesque towns with houses that retain the characteristics of local architecture and buildings reminiscent of their historical past. The towers of Mani, the railway station with trees in Aris , one of the many samples of the architecture of the buildings of the first Greek Railways, the abandoned industrial buildings of the Mills 'Evangelistria' S.A in the port of Kalamata and the oil and soap factory Liakea in Kardamili are some of the monuments of the recent economic and social history of Messinia, that stand out for their aesthetic value, but also for the memories they incorporate.
In turbulent historical periods, the wild landscape of Mani became a refuge and base for people who, under harsh conditions, created an architecture that served their defensive needs. The people of Mani, often living outside the law, organized themselves in small “closed” communities and settlements, with reference to “polemopyrgoi” (defensive towers), from where they monitored the surrounding areas. Even today, throughout the region of Mani, one sees these impressive buildings, which give a unique style to the landscape.
Archeological and other museums, galleries, festivals, libraries and a rich contemporary cultural life connect the present with the past and make Messinia a most interesting destination for cultural tourism