Beauty of Messinia

The land of the Olive Tree and Olive Oil

View of Castle of Koroni
View of Castle of Koroni
source photo:

Euripides called Messinia “the land of the good fruit” for its beauty and its fertile rich earth.  It yields the world famous Kalamata Olives and Kalamata Olive Oil.

However Messinia is also renown for its natural beauty  with the indented shores, sandy beaches, forested mountains and fertile valleys,  which coexist with significant archaeological monuments and impressive Venetian fortresses.

People have lived in Messinia since the Neolithic age; however the Mycenaean age was indisputably the golden in Messinia’s history and Pylos was the second largest city after Mycenae. On 20th October 1827, the allied fleet fought at Navarino bay, against the combined Turkish and Egyptian fleet, which event essentially signalled the independence of the Peloponnese from the Turkish domination.

Archaelogical Site Ancient Messini
Archaelogical Site Ancient Messini

 Greek history records the first inhabitants around 2,500 years B.C.

The region was rapidly developed into a significant financial and cultural center of the ancient Greek world. Its wealth, natural beauties and strategic location endowed its people with prosperity and, at the same time, attracting many conquerors.

Land of the Olive Tree

The olive tree, a sacred tree, has been cultivated in Messinia since the 12th century BC. Archaeological excavations in the palace of Nestor, the ancient king of Messinia, have brought to light evidence that show the enormous importance of the juice of the olive tree for the society of the time.

All of Messinia is a vast Olive Grove

Messinia, yields the world famous Kalamata Olives and Kalamata Olive Oil, particularly the Messinia Olive Oil, a 100% pure and natural fruit juice of the highest quality and of unique nutritional value, which has been ranked in the category of Extra Virgin Olive Oil after a series of chemical analysis. (source

Prefecture of Messinia

The Prefecture of Messinia has an area 2991 sq. Km. and occupies the southwestern part of the Peloponnese Region.  To the north it borders with Ilia and east with the prefectures of Arcadia and Laconia, while to the west, south and a section in the east, the Ionian Sea and the Messinian Bay.

According to the 2001 census, its population rises to 176 876 inhabitants.

Following the recent administrative restructuring of all the prefectures of Greece in the context of the “Kallikrates”, the Prefecture of Messinia is divided into the following 6 municipalities:

Kalamata,  Messini, West Mani. Trifylia,  Pylos-Nestor and  Oihalia.

History of Messinia

Ancient Period

During the Mycenaean period Messinia dominated the Mycenaean kingdom of Nileidon. According to Homer other ancient traditions, and the excavations at Pylos seems the kingdom of Nileidon prevailed over a large area of southeastern Peloponnese that included the current Messinia, Triphylia and part of Arcadia. The Achaeans who were prevailed over the other tribes the Kafkones and Pelasgians in the area spoke the Greek language of the Mycenaean period and worshiped the gods of the Greeks and local deities. This kingdom finally collapsed after the invasion of area by the Dorians in the mid 12th century BC. It is believed that  the leader of the Dorians who occupied Messinia was Kresphontes. The Dorians established their capital in the region Stenyklaro.

Messinia was famed for the fertility of the soil, which led later to the Spartan invasion in the region and at the outbreak of the First Messinian War.  The outcome of the war resulted in Messinia being occupied by the Spartans and Messinian population was subjugated to the Spartans and were their Helots. A helot occupied a status “between free men and slaves” and was tied to the land. They worked in agriculture as a majority and economically supported the Spartan citizens.

The Messinians rebelled a century after bringing the outbreak of the second Messinian war. This war also involved other Peloponnese states. The Messinians were allied  to the Argives, Arcadians, Sikyonians, Elis and Pisates while the Spartans  allied themselves with the Corinthians and the Lepreates. The Corinithians  were the sworn of enemies of the Argives and the latter  were the enemies of Ilians.

After years of conflict, the Spartans managed to suppress the revolt.  The Messinians revolted again in 464 BC. Following the devastating earthquake that struck Sparta the Messinians took the opportunity to revolt.  Sparta needed external help from its allies to quell the revolution.  The Spartans enlisted the help of Athenian soldiers who were sent to Laconia only to shortly to depart, as the Spartans felt uneasy with the presence of Athenian soldiers in their territory.

Eventually the resistance of the Messinians folden in 460 BC As a result of this defeat many Messinians took refuge in Nafpaktos. Messinia was finally liberated  after the campaign of Thebes in the Peloponnese in 369 and 368 BC It was during this time that the  new capital of Messina, Messini was founded.
Messinians never acquired great power in the coming years. After the Thebian hegemony they became allies of the Macedonians and later participated in the Achaean League until the conquest of Peloponnese by the Romans.

Medieval and Modern period (Ottoman Empire and Revolution)

The Byzantine era followed and during the 13th century the Messinans were conquered once again by the Franks. Finally in 1498 the region passed on entirely into the hands of the Turks.

From 1769 to 1770 Messinians and Maniates participated in the failed Orlofika movement; The Turkish reprisals were swift and devastating resulting in a large loss of life on the part of the Messinian population.

On March 23, 1821 Gregory Papaflessas declared the revolt against the Turks and liberated Kalamata. This was a major event in the war of independence, making Kalamata the first Greek city to be freed from the occupation of the Ottoman Empire. It remained free until 1825, when Ibrahim made his first foray.

Despite the heroic resistance of the Greeks, Ibrahim destroyed the whole of the Peloponnese which included the massacre of its population and the burning of its fruit and olive trees.

Finally on October 20th 1827, the Turkish-Egyptian alliance was defeated by the allied fleet at the Bay of Navarino. This led to the liberation of the Peloponnese and the creation of the new Greek state.

The beginning and the end of the Greek Revolution is written on Messinian soil

GREECE - CIRCA 1977: A stamp printed by Greece shows Sea battle of Navarino,
GREECE – CIRCA 1977: A stamp printed by Greece shows sea battle of Navarino