We found this site to be truly amazing. It is huge, it has some big architecture almost intact and surprisingly! it was free!! we could not believe it as it is very well maintained.
If you are visiting this site during summer make sure to bring lots of water, wear a hat and proper shoes as it is large and there is none or little shade. There is a water fountain at the entrance gate and bathroom facilities are back at the museum outside the site itself.
You will need a couple of hours to explore Ancient Messene decently, it is all downhill but you will have to go back up!
It is not very popular as it is kind of out of the way and not as mentioned as Olympia or other Peloponnese sites. When we visited we arrived early in the morning, maybe 9am and a part for the two person guarding the gate there was nobody there. We were the only visitors for awhile.
The site has a big theatre about 100 meter wide that was under some restoration work in 2011, remains of a Basilica dated back at 7th century AD, the Sanctuary of Askelepius that has a monumentary staircase that lead to a large countryard with columns.
The most impressive view await for you all the way down the hill, the stadium is very large and surrounded by column.
Pilos, or Pylos, is a colourful, work-a-day small harbour town, complete with it's old and new castles, found in the south western Peloponnese, in Messinia. It's a great spot for a harbourside drink, or even better, lunch, at one of the harbourside tavernas, looking out to the Isles of Sfaktiria.
Pilos harbour is situated in Navarino Bay, the site of the famous Battle of Navarino in 1827, when the Brits and her allies slaughtered the Turks in a ferocious sea battle. It is also the deepest natural harbour in Greece.
The town's main square, Plateia Trion Navarhon, looks out over the harbour and is a popular place for locals an tourists to enjoy a drink in the shade of the plane trees.
Make sure you pay a visit to the Turkish and Venetian Neo Kastro, just off the main Methoni road. It's a vast place, set in beautifully peaceful grounds. The views to the islands (boat trips from the harbour) are spectacular.
Pilos's old castle, Paleokastro, is 6kms. north of Pylos, guarding the northern entrance to Navarino bay and can only be accessed on foot.
For more info look at my Pilos page.
Finikounda is an up and coming seaside resort in the south of Messinia. It has a lovely clean, sandy, town beach with tavernas and bars at the back of it. There is a small harbour where pleasure boats sit side by side with fishing boats.
To either side of Finikounda, more wonderful beaches can be found, along with two or three campsites and some water sports facilities. You can understand why Finikounda has always been popular with the Greeks, excellent beaches, a good choice of restaurants and ideally located for exploring this peninsula.Over the last few years, foreign holiday companies have discovered Finikounda and nowadays you'll here a few different nationalities..Apartments and studios are shooting up everywhere and it won't be long before Finikounda is definitely ON the beaten track. Having said that, we have only visited in May when it's been pretty quiet and the place still manages to retain a village atmosphere.
For more info look at my Foinikous page.
Koroni is right at the end of the SW Peloponnese peninsula of the county of Messinia. The roads are quiet most of the year. It is far off the tourist beaten track. Sitting about, swimming, siesta, scenic drives of glorious coastline and authentic olive groves, quiet villages, harbourfront and beachfront cafes, ice cream parlours and evening restaurants for their allure under the sun or quiet moon. My personal website has much information about Koroni and Messinia in English, German and Greek with updates news on flights and about the roads, pictures and many links for more information. I am both Greek (Peloponnese) and English from England and have half a century of travel in Greece. But shhh, don't tell everybody about this Hidden Greece.
The stones used for the city wall and the watchtowers are huge and moreover, are very tightly arranged, which explains how the whole defensive system is still in such an exceptional condition after nearly 2400 years!
The city was destroyed in 395 AD by the Goths, led by Alaric. After its destruction, the site remained unspoiled until now. No further settlement disturbed the ruins of the houses, the cemeteries, etc, which makes of Ithomi a precious research field for archeologists.
The city was the capital of Messinia and thus had several sanctuaries including a temple to Artemis, a stadium, and a theater. The city wall was secured by a series of watchtowers.
The first photo shows a watchtower standing along the road from Meligalas to Mavromati.
The second shows another watchtower standing amidst the bushes.
Epaminondas, the Theban general that won Sparta at the battle of Leuctra in 371 BC, founded in 369 BC ancient Messini, that he named Ithomi.
It was surrounded by a 9.5 km long and 3 meters thick city wall with four massive gates with two-storey towers and battlements, which took their name from the direction of the roads that started from them. It is considered as one of the finest examples of military architecture of the 4th century BC.
The photos show the Arcadian gate, which was the main gate, leading to the north.
The modern city of Messini is the second largest town in Messinia, it is 11 km from Kalamata and 20 km away from ancient Messini.
The city was built on the western foot of Mount Ithome but the city wall climbs on the slopes of the mountain. Though only parts of the city wall are still standing, what remains is still very impressive because of its size.
When you want to go out of the beaten path, whenever you see a gravel road without any road sign, try it. Often it will end as a dead end, may be in a dumping site, or an abandoned quarry (excellent for camping in the wild!) but you will from time to time find real jewels, hamlets that have remained almost untouched by modern life, with a kafeneion with a few chairs under a plane tree where you will sip a glass of ouzo!
Harakopion is a small town, 4 kilometers inland to Koroni and 7 km from Nea Koroni. Same as Koroni, its inhabitants live on agriculture and tourism. However, mass tourism has not hit this part of Greece. You will find plenty of houses for rental but luckily, no large hotels. On Sunday, the city markets is where you will find local products such as wine, honey, fruits for very reasonable prices.
Koroni is a small harbor of 3,000, near Akra Akritas (Cape Akritas), the southern part of Messinia, the western peninsula of Peleponissos.
The citizens live on tourism and agriculture. The castle overhangs the city. It was built in the 6th or 7th century AD. It was successively occupied by the Byzantines, the Venetians (1206), the Turks (1500), the Venetian again (1686), the Turks a second time (1715) and was finally liberated in 1828 by French general Maison for the new independent Greece. This shows well the strategic importance of the site.
I have to admit, it's many a year since we've been to Stoupa and we probably have no intention of going again.
All those years ago, in the early 1990's, Stoupa was a delightful little holiday destination. Only one English holiday company touched this place, although there were a few other nationalities about.There were about ten places to eat, no bars that I can remember and NO sunbeds. The beaches never got crowded like today and most of the surrounding area was green countryside. Today, so much building has taken place, foreigners buying up plots of land and old properties to renovate, I imagine the foreign population nearly outnumbers the locals.
Many people who go to Stoupa, return year after year, do little but sit on the beach and never experience the real Greece, just a few miles away.
I don't mean to slag Stoupa, it is extremely pretty, has two beautiful beaches and caters well for the tourist. Just not those who enjoy a more Greek ambience.
For more info, look at my Stoupa page.
RETURNED HERE IN MAY 2008 AND ALTHOUGH THE ACTUAL VILLAGE IS STILL PRETTY, THERE ARE MANY NEW BUSINESSES AND THE OUTSKIRTS ON THE MAIN ROAD ARE A MESS WITH MUCH NEW BUILD IN EVIDENCE. WE BARELY RECOGNISED THE AREA.
A thoroughly nice harbour village, south of Stoupa. Many years ago, when we first visited, there were hardly any concessions to tourism, the waterside hotel and a couple of tavernas was it. Fishing boats bobbed about in the small harbour and locals went about their business.Nowadays, this pretty village has been discovered big time, mainly by those who holiday in Stoupa, just up the road. They either walk along the coast, or drive the few miles to A. Nikoloas to escape the masses at Stoupa. Today, a few English holiday companies now have accommodation here, which seems to increase each year. How long has A. Nik got before it becomes another Stoupa? Well, one thing in it's favour, you could say, (or against, depending how you look at it) is that it has no beach, swimming is from rocky platforms or you are faced with a bit of a trek to the beach at Pantazi.
Agios Nikolaos has a chemist, P.O., supermarket and a good choice of places to eat. Get there while the place still remains "nice."
This is the beach everyone raves about. Yes, it's pretty, yes it's out of the way but it no longer remains a secret. Most people who visit this side of Messinia now know about Voidokilia's delights but due to no major tour operators staying in the area the beach still remains relatively quiet.
You must park in the parking space behind the beach as the whole area is a conservation zone and no-one is allowed to stay after dark. You enter the beach through a gap in the sand dunes and the lovely bay opens out before your eyes, almost in a horseshoe shape. (Voidokilia means ox-belly and refers to the shape of the beach.) Low sand dunes back the almost white sand bay and the water is So blue and very shallow.Swimming involves walking out to sea some way.
At the far end, Nestor's cave is cut into the cliff above the beach, (rather an awkward scramble) and Paleokastro(the old castle) perches precariously above that. The whole scene is beautiful and very much photographed. Best pics. are to be taken from the castle looking down to the beach.
Be aware the only shade is at the near end of the beach, under the cliff. There are no facilities here whatsoever, thank god.
For more info, look at my Gialova page.
Most people by-pass pretty Kardamili in favour of Stoupa, with it's sandy beach and larger selection of restaurants. For me, Kardamili is far more Greek, with it's impressive old stone buildings lining the main road that runs through the village. Climbing up the hillside behind the more modern town is Old Kardamili, a settlement from the ancient times,much of it ruined but some being restored. The soaring peak of Taygetos rises behind, to over 2000 metres and is a popular hiking ground with many marked mountain trails.
Kardamili was one of the places in Greece where the Brits and her allies were evacuated from in 1942, , from the advancing Germans. No doubt many a tale is told about that memorable event!!
Modern Kardamili has plenty of accommodation, much of it up-market, even exclusive, as well as a campsite at the north end of the long, white pebble beach. There is a good selection of restaurants, some local shops and usual tourist facilities, including an internet cafe (heaven forbid!!) There is also a pretty little harbour, south of the village.
Navarinou And R Ferreou Sts, Kalamata, Peloponnese, 24100, Greece
Good for: Solo
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Couples
Kalo Nero Beach, Kiparissia, 24500, Greece
Good for: Business