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Archaeological Sites
Ancient Messene
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Ancient Messene rises on the southern slopes of Ithomi hill, over the fertile plain of Messinia. Messene is one of the most important archaeological sites of the Peloponnese, where large areas of the ancient city are preserved. Among them are public buildings, temples, houses and tombs.

 

History

The city of Messene was founded in 369 BC by the Theban general Epaminondas. The city had an important geostrategic position in the dispute over the Thebans and the Spartans. The name of the city comes from the homonym mythical Queen, daughter of Triopas, king of Argos. In 146 BC the dominance of the city passed to the Romans. For more than 700 years the city was the cultural and economic center of the region. The decline of the city and its progressive devastation took place after the gothic invasion in 395 AD.

The excavations of ancient Messene began in late 19th century by the Greek Archaeological Society. Until the 1960's a  numerous investigations took place by Greek and Swedish archaeologists, revealing most of the archaeological site. In a short distance from the archaeological site was  founded the museum of Messene that hosts the findings of the archaeological investigations.

 

Architecture

Mountain Ithome was protecting the northeast boundaries of the city. A perimeter wall of nearly 10 kilometers long surrounded the city on the boundaries with the Messenian valley. Both buildings and infrastructure were  following the Ippodamius planning whereby roads are arranged in two orthogonal directions, creating an urban grid.

Within the archaeological site are  located several monuments. The first monument of the site is the theater. Its construction dates back to the 3rd century BC and it is one of the largest theaters in antiquity with a width of nearly 100 meters. In place Spelouza were discovered the Sacred places of mount Ithomi while beside the theater was revealed the Fountain Arsinoe. Its construction is coincided with the theater. According to Pausanias, the fountain got its name from Arsinoe, mother of Asclepius. East of the fountain is the market which leads to the heart of the city, the  Asclepieion. The Asclepieion building complex consists of administrative and religious buildings. West of Asclepieion stands the Stadium and the Gymnasium. The Stadium and the Gymnasium were a single architectural ensemble where during the Hellenistic period was used as an exhibition of art works. Other monuments of the archaeological site is the Arcadian Gate, the Temple Demeter Dioscuri and the Memorial of the Stadium.

 

Information

Messene Archaeological Museum, 240 02 Meligalas, contact number: (+30) 27240 51046