MESSINIA - BLESSED LAND FROM ANTIQUITY
The prefecture of Messinia with its capital Kalamata is located in the southwestern Peloponnese, bordering the prefecture of Ilia, the prefecture of Arcadia and the prefecture of Laconia. It is surrounded by 140 km of coastline, with beautiful beaches, picturesque harbors starting on one side with the Messinian Gulf and on the other in the Ionian Sea. Inside, Taygetos, "the legend of Moria" with its wild beauty, forests with firs and pines, rare plants, peaks, gorges, ravines and picturesque villages. Fertile areas, coastal and Mediterranean towns, picturesque villages, archeological sites, important historical monuments and the tourist infrastructure attract a large number of Greek and foreign visitors. Kalamata built at the foot of Taygetos is the capital of Messinia and the second largest city in the Peloponnese. It is a modern city with strong signs of history while the port is the largest in the prefecture.
In the historical center are the Benakeio Archaeological Museum, the Municipal Gallery, the Historical and Folklore Museum. In the center of the square dominates the Heroes that commemorates the moment of the uprising and north the church of Agios Apostolos, where according to tradition, in this church the Revolution of 1821 was proclaimed. of Achaia. Ypapantis Square was the first non-castle area inhabited by the Metropolitan Church of Ypapantis the Savior. The coastal road is one of the busiest parts of the city as it has large sidewalks with palm trees along its entire length and many exquisite neoclassical buildings. Aristomenous Street crosses the heart of the city, among the most important neoclassical buildings. In Vassileos Georgiou Square, there is the composition "Eleftheria'' with the heroes of the Revolution, Papaflessa, Kolokotroni, Mavromichali. The Municipal Railway Park is the only open-air museum of 54 acres in one of the most central parts of the city and is known around the world.
The only attraction of rare natural beauty is the famous Biliovo, the paved cobbled path that connects the villages of Sotirianika and Altomira, which was characterized as a monument. The gorge of Ridomo from the ridges of Taygetos to the coast of Santova in the Messinian Gulf presents a majestic natural landscape. Along the entire length there are geological phenomena, such as the almost vertical slopes, the strong folds of the rock and the cracks while the cobbled streets in Pigadia and Altomira are a natural passage with the wonderful bridge. The gorge of Byros, apart from its natural beauty, stands out due to its historical importance, as along it passed the ancient Royal Road that connected ancient Sparta with the port of Kardamili. Maniaki is known from the battle that took place in 1825, during the Greek Revolution. In it, Papaflessas and his lads were tragically killed by Ibrahim's forces. In Maniaki are the statue of Papaflessas, the churches of Agios Grigorios, Agios Konstantinos and Anastasis, where the bones of the fighters in Maniaki are kept.
Pylos amphitheatrically built in the southern opening of the bay of Navarino, where the historic naval battle with its white buildings took place, exudes an island aroma. The square dominates with the imposing monument of the three Admirals from the Naval Battle of Navarino. In the center of the bay is the rocky islet of Helonisi or Chelonaki which was so named because of its shape with the monument for the English fallen. Nestor's Palace is the best preserved Mycenaean palace in a privileged location overlooking the bay. Impressive is the Throne Room, the baths and the vases that were used to store products. Koroni is a small coastal town with unique beauty, the Venetian Castle dominates the top of the hill and the churches give a medieval character. Below the castle is the church of Panagia Eleistria while inside is the monastery of Agios Ioannis. Characteristic is the mansion of the chief Karapavlos and in the central square the Metropolitan Church of Agios Dimitrios.
Kyparissia is built at the foot of Mount Egaleo with its important attraction the Archaeological Site of Peristeria, one of the most important centers of Early Mycenaean civilization as well as the gorge next to it. Above the settlement dominates the castle of Arcadia, the Reservoir, which supplies water to most of the city and the monument of the Arcadian Mother. The Gorge with the Stalactites will enchant nature lovers and those who love hiking. Kardamili on the Messinian side of Mani became world famous from the plans of Before Midnight. It is characterized by the remains of the Homeric Acropolis, the fortified complex of Mourtzina and the tombs of Dioscuri. The church of Agios Ioannis is built in its port, while opposite it is the island of Meropi, with ruins of Venetian walls and the church of Panagia. Of unique natural beauty is the gorge of Byros in the springs of which old water mills are preserved, while near its riverbed is the monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior.
Methoni has the famous castle where Bourtzi is part of it and it is the small fort on the island while it is connected to it by a bridge. It is worth visiting the Messinian Oinousses which consist of the islands of Sapienza, Agia Mariani and Schiza. Gargalianoi are built at the foot of Mount Egaleo and have stunning views and end at the Ionian Sea. The central square is dominated by the church of Panagia of the 18th century. Zevgolatio, built in the plain of Ano Messinia, is known for the pasteli a greek honey sesame bar which has been produced here continuously since 1920. It has a large market along its main road, where it is located the church,dedicated to the Nativity of Virgin Mary. Filiatra is a town in the central square dominated by the fountain from Florence with the female figure and the four child figures. Characteristic are the town hall, the metropolitan church of Agios Ioannis and the church of Agios Georgios of Bouriana. An original attraction is the replica of the Eiffel Tower at the northwest entrance of the city.
Messinia is one of the few places in Greece that gathers many beautiful beaches with golden sand and many bays accessible from a good road network. In most beaches the olive tree, the characteristic tree of the prefecture, is harmoniously combined with the sea and the sun. Voidokilia beach is the most famous with a characteristic round shape that looks like the letter Ω omega. Voidokilia is located north of Pylos and is bathed by the waters of the Ionian Sea. The wider area has been designated as a place of special natural beauty and is part of the Natura 2000 Network, so there is no trace of organization and activity. Stoupa beach is a popular beach covered with sand, the waters are crystal clear and cool as underground springs gush. The beach of Kalogria is a closed bay with white sand and crystal clear waters that provides the opportunity for water sports. The beach of Kalamata is one of the beaches that is a pole of attraction as it is a huge coast with a length of four kilometers covered with sand or pebbles marked with a blue flag and accessible even on foot.
Finikounda beach is a large sandy beach next to the homonymous village. Chrysi Akti or Divari, is a beach in the bay of Navarino with golden sand, to which it owes its name. The beach of Foneas near Kardamili, is one of the most beautiful where the small bay with wild beauty meets the rocky shore. The beach is covered with white pebbles, the waters are cool with a blue-green color while a large rock divides the beach in the middle and generously gives its shade to those who seek it. The coast is full of caves worth exploring. Delfinia is a small cove with blue waters, protected from the wind on the road from Kardamili to Mani with organized camping. Bouka is one of the largest and best organized beaches with fine sand and crystal clear waters which offers beach volleyball and water sports.
The food options are many, characterized by the pure raw materials, produced by the land, with the first and best Kalamata oil. Wine is part of the tradition since the cultivation of the vineyard in the area has been done for thousands of years. Fresh or dried, figs are one of the most famous natural flavor delights completely identified with the region. The most "emblematic" dish of Mani is the convergent salted pork, which is salted, dried and smoked for many hours with green sage. Pasteli is a famous traditional dessert of Messinia based on sesame and honey. These two ingredients give the final product enormous nutritional value. It was already known in the time of Herodotus and is even referred to as a tonic sweet. The famous Taygetos honey is made from many different species of plants, flowers, etc. mainly spruce honey, heather honey, but also honey varieties from thyme, flower honey, arbutus, sage and pine.