Messenia includes the beautiful coastlines and beaches of the southwest Peloponnese. Some of the best beaches in Greece are here, as well as plenty for the culturally inclined including the Mycenaean palace of Pylos, where King Nestor ruled, and the historical island of Sfaktiria, which sits just off the city of Pylos. The capital of Messenia, Kalamata, is famed world-wide for its excellent olives and olive oil, and a drive through the seemingly endless olive groves of Messenia is a relaxing experience.
This region of the Peloponnese is the best for beaches and relaxing in peace. You will find beautiful beaches all along the coast from Kardamyli to Pylos, and with only a few exceptions, these areas are quiet most of the year.
The major sites in Messenia are Ancient Messene and Pylos. Ancient Messene is one of the largest archaeological excavations in Greece, and it is far from finished. So far, excavators have uncovered theaters, a large sanctuary to Asklepios, government buildings, a temple to Zeus, and city walls, as well as many excellent finds (including phenomenal statuary) which are kept in the Archaeological Museum of Messene on the site. Established in 369 BC at the same time as nearby Megalopolis, Messene ushered in a new period of independence for the helots, the local peoples who had for several centuries lived a trying and persecuted existence under the thumb of their neighbors, the Spartans.
The prefecture of Messinia is located in the southwest of the region. It borders with Laconia , Arcadia and Elia. With its towns and small villages set among fertile farmlands and olive groves, the region has a lot to offer the tourist.
The capital and port of the prefecture is the town of Kalamata , a large commercial town, with parks, with its dominating castle overlooking the town. A large earthquake devastated the town in 1986, and destroying over 10,000 buildings. The old city is below the castle, situated here is the convent of Kalograies where the nuns weave the Kalamata silk for which the city is famous for. In 1821, in the church of Agii Apostoli the Greeks declared revolution against the Turks. Concerts and other cultural events take place in the amphitheatre at the castle. Along the seafront, restaurants serve all kinds of culinary delights to tempt the palate.
The capital of Messenia, Kalamata, best known for its famous olives and olive oil, is not a very visitable city, but it does have a good Archaeological Museum. Just outside the city, to the southeast, are good beaches and the popular coastal towns of Kardamyli and Stoupa. Continuing southeast takes you deeper into the Mani.
Modern Pylos is a wonderful town to base yourself for exploring Messenia. It is a very pleasant small town with a lovely waterfront area and some excellent fish restaurants. Leafy squares and a relaxed atmosphere are among its charms.
From the town of Pylos, you can take a boat out to the nearby islet of Sphakteria, where the Athenians overwhelmed the Spartans during the Peloponnesian War, and where the Greeks set up monuments as memorials to the Russian, British, and French sailors who died at the crucial Battle of Navarino (1827).
The seaside town known also as Navoroni is the site of the famous naval battle during the war of independence, where ships from the combined fleets of England , Russia and France , destroyed the Turkish-Egyptian fleet. The villages of Methoni and Koroni have medieval castles that are worth visiting. To the north of Pilos in the village of Chora lies, the Palace of Nestor , the wise old king, who with the Archains, campaigned against Troy . The palace destroyed by fire in 1200BC; and the remains of the impressive throne can be seen along with the monumental entrance.
Pylos is a much earlier site, one of the earliest Mycenaean citadels, ruled over, according to mythology, the king Nestor. The palace site, or Nestors Palace, is the most well-preserved Myceanean palace, and one from which an incredible store of artifacts were recovered, including invaluable clay tablets inscribed in Linear B writing, and many, many ceramics. Visit the Museum of Chora Trifyllias to see these Linear B tablets and the cups, as well as other finds from the site.
Mavromati (Ancient Messina)
The ruins of this ancient city lie in the valley below the village of Mavromati . The city founded in 371 BC after a battle against the armies from Sparta , who ruled the region for 350 years. Later large defensive walls enclosed the city, to deter any further invasions. Moreover, according to local legend, the god Zeus was born here, not on Crete.
This village with many good beaches is popular with wind surfers and sunbathers due to its good beaches.