Discover Messenia with a local tour guide
Messenia is a fascinating area of the Peloponnese. Fantastic landscapes, multitude of archaeological sites, medieval castles, museums and beautiful towns. Here are some of the highly recommended tours in Messinia.
Very famous for its olives that are exported all around the world, Kalamata is the capital of Messenia, and a very pleasant town to visit. A walking tour with your local private guide will take you to the museums, the impressive orthodox cathedral and the Byzantine churches, the old section of the town with the old market and the local artisans’ crafts,and the modern section of the town where you will have the chance to mingle with the locals in the best pastry shops and gelato places of Kalamata,and where your guide will have surprise treats for you.
It is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Greece, definitely worth a guided visit. Messene was built in 379BC by the Theban general Epameinondas, when he defeated the Spartans. The latter had conquered the land of the Messenians and had either enslaved or exiled the inhabitants of the wider region of Messenia. Epameinondas liberated these lands from the Spartans and brought the Messenians back to their homeland where they would live in a brand new city with theaters,beautiful temples, an impressive stadium, water fountains, statues embellishing the city centre and strong defensive walls surrounding it. The location is extraordinary in beauty and of great archaeological and historic interest. The excavation is going on and every year new buildings come to light.
Hire a local guide to visit the palace of Nestor , the oldest king that participated in the Trojan War according to Homer. He was the wise peace- maker of the Greeks,when in the endless years they stayed in the battlefields of Troy, they often underwent the danger of serious internal conflicts. His palace was discovered in Pylos several decades ago amidst a breathtaking scenery of olive trees, on top of a hill overlooking the sea. You can extend your visit to the nearby town of Hora in order to see the museum that houses the finds from the palace of Nestor and the content of numerous prehistoric “tholos” graves that have been found in Messinia.
The town of Pylos is a very picturesque spot of Greece. Its castle of the Venetian times is worth a visit, especially because it has a majestic view over the bay of Navarino, site of the last naval battle between the Greeks and the Turks in 1827, after which Greece was declared an independent state. Within the walls is housed the museum of marine archaeology , giving information about the under- water archaeological research that brings to light the finds from shipwrecks or sunken cities of the past. Just a few nautical miles off of the bay of Navarino are the deepest waters in the Mediterranean.
The two picturesque towns were once considered to be the “eyes of Venice”, as the Venetians held sway over the two harbors for many centuries. The two towns were situated half way along the sea route that linked Venice with the Holy land. From Methone and Korone the Venetians were carrying off salt,wax,grain,olive oil, even slaves, from the entire region of the Peloponnese.In both towns there is a Venetian castle from which you can enjoy superb views to the Ionian Sea. You can visit the castles of Methone and Korone with your local Greek guide and learn the fascinating history of the area, which is full of intrigue, as the castles were frequently changing hands throughout time. Your expert guide of Messinia can describe the architecture of the monuments and explain the function of the different buildings in a castle. But you shouldn’t miss following your Greek tour guide for a pleasant walk into the towns themselves. They are extremely beautiful, with a charming traditional architecture.
One of my favorite destinations in Greece is the peninsula of Mani. It is one of the most authentic areas you may visit in the Peloponnese. The local culture is unique and the place is simply beautiful. We are talking about a region that extends at the southernmost part of the Peloponnese, in the area where the waters of the Aegean blend with the waters of the Ionian Sea and where the dramatic gorges of Mt.Taygetus meet with the serenity of the Messinian valleys. The landscape is full of contrasts. The Maniotes, the tough locals, retain they are descendants of the ancient Spartans. They came to live here centuries ago, to escape the control of invaders and the attacks of the pirates. They managed to defend their world with success throughout history and they were never enslaved to any conqueror. Their traditional houses have the form of a tower, which served the purpose of the defense of the family that was inhabiting them.Visiting Mani, it is advisable that you have a local expert with you, because there are so many hidden treasures you will miss otherwise : villages, monuments, Byzantine churches, view points, places of natural interest. Also the roads are winding and in many cases narrow. It is advisable that you have a local driver, rather than driving on your own, especially if you are planning to get off the bitten path. This is actually the best way to explore Mani.