One of Greece’s best-preserved archaeological sites, Ancient Messene combines the grandeur of Delphi with the natural beauty of Olympia.
Ancient Messene has the double attraction of being amongst the most exciting and complete archaeological settlements ever discovered and one of the most beautifully situated.
Little more than a lush green valley in the southwestern Peloponnese just 40 years ago, it now ranks as one of the most significant remains of Greek antiquity.
The city flourished in the 4th century BC after the defeat of the Spartans by the Theban General Epaminondas, ending centuries of Spartan rule. And to our eternal gain, it was never subsequently destroyed or settled over, allowing an astonishing insight into life in ancient times.
A complex that some believe is little more than a third excavated has already revealed the remains of a theatre, agora and gymnasium, as well as an assortment of sanctuaries, temples, statues, springs and dwellings – many of them brought to life by the writings of Pausanias.
Designed around a symmetrical grid system (known as the Hippodamian plan) rather than the more typical labyrinth to ward off attacks, the city can be seen as a forerunner to modern urban planning, with excellent fortifying walls that helped protect the gem we can all enjoy today.