Ancient Messini (sightseeing) Route Details

Route Description

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Introduction

Sightseeing around the moutains around the important but underated archaeological site of ancient Messini, a city founded 2500 years ago

Conditions

Main roads, and at times narrow roads.

Hazards and warnings

Mountain roads can be tricky - with steep hills, sharp bends and other drivers who may not be so careful to look out for

Detailed description

Ancient Messene or Messeni was founded by people's just outside of the influence of Sparta, and who wished to stay that way. Consequently the city's site was high of a mountain, near springs, and surrounded by extensive walls, which are  still very much visible even today.


Most of the things you'd expect to find in an ancient greek city are there; a theatre (one of the biggest in the ancient world), a large agroa (civic centre and market), temples, tombs and a large gymnasium converted by the romans into an arena.


Most of the principle parts have been excatated and to some extent restored, although work countinues even now to explore the city.


Particularly interesting are the extensive city walls, which are huge, well constructed and still very visible, as well as the massively constructed civic buildings. The stone work is amazing if you consider the age of the buildings, dating dating well before the roman era.


The arcadian gate is well worth a side trip to see, as the massive walls and gate are impressive, as is the fact it's still used as a crossing point for the walls.




Narrative

We arrived mid morning in the middle of August. After enjoying a coffee and a walk around the village we headed to the city. There's a gate to the site, but as yet admission is not charged (Aug 2010), although this may change.


The site it's self has no water, and little shade, so avoiding the hottest part of the day would be a good idea.


We found the use of a digger to excavate the theatre curious as we could see the digger just bitting into the upper parts of the ruin, sending rocks flying. Elsewhere there was evidence of more careful investigation, but I could imagine parts of stonehenge being dug in this way.



After finishing in the city we drove to the arcadian gate, and thence down the mountain. Time didn't permit us to look at the church set above the road, nor the zig zag shaped bridge which has ancient foundations just outside outside the small market town at the northern base of the mountain.


Also worth noting on the way was the memorial erected on the site of a bloody WWII massacare, with a huge concrete cross on the hill above the road.


Route Map

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