The modern town of Messini is to be found 10km south west of Kalamata. It is the second largest town in Messinia and has a population of 7000. Messini it positioned close to the Pamisos River which is on the Messinian plane in an area called Makaria or in Greek ‘happy land’.
The History of Messini
The town of Messini was referred to as far back as 150AD by Pausanias under the name of Limnai where the sanctuary of Artemis Limnatida was located. In 440 AD the town was settled by the inhabitants of Ancient Messini and became the seat of Diocese of Messini until 1300 when the seat was transferred to Androusa.
In 900 AD the Melissinans constructed the Melipyrgos fort at a location today call Paniyirstra. The bountiful waters of the Pamisos and the Riaka stream gave the fortified site of Melipyrgos the feeling of an island, from which the town was given its nickname of Nisi (island). This name was first encountered in texts from the Frankish occupation and still survives today. In the French Chronicle of Morea, Messini (Nisi) was mentioned as being the favorite place of the Frankish Queen Isabele Villehardouin who was better known as Princess Isabeau.
On 25th May 1770 the last page of the Orloff Uprising was written in the ruins of Melipyrgos which is also where the last remaining fighters under Yannis Mavronichallis fell. Among those who met a heroic death was Yorgis Felessas, the grandfather of Papaflessas and Yannis Kolokotronis, the grandfather of the old man of Morea who was captured and tortured to death.
Along with Kalamata, Messini was one of the first towns to participate in the 1821 Revolution. It endured the colossal financial burden of training and organisation of the army. Consequently, in 1825 it was destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha. The Diocese of Messini was set up once more in 1825 and in 1867 the name Messinas was officially reinstated.
In the years between the two World Wars, Messini was the muse of an exceptional literary figure Sotiris Patatzis, who among other works wrote novels called Methismeni Politia (Drunken Country) and I Neraida tou Vithou (The Water Nymph of the Deep).
Many other famous Greek people can also trace their origins back to Messini including Frida Liappa (film director), Ellie Fotis (actress) and Nikos Doulamis (singer) to name but a few.
The Town Of Messini Today
The economy of the present day town is based on agriculture, as well as a growing service industry comprising of hotels, restaurants, bars and various shops. It also has several banks, pharmacies, general practitioners, dentists and a health center. Sports facilities include a national football field and various gymnasiums.
The town centers round a large square with fountains at one end. Beside the square is a lovely shady park which has a restaurant next to an amphitheater where bands play music and plays are performed during the summer. There are many festivals throughout the year and in September an open-air market is held and is renowned throughout Greece. Messini’s main beach is Bouka which is 3km from the center of town. Bouka beach has been awarded the Blue Flag of Europe for its 20km of sandy shoreline.
There are air and land transport connections with the rest of Greece. Kalamata International Airport is located 1.3km from the center of Messini and has charter services during the summer season as well as daily flights to Athens. The bus station is situated in the central square and the train station is on the edge of Messini town.