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“Freedom, military engineering”
Review of Ancient Messene

Ancient Messene
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Small-Group Half-Day Trip to Ancient Messene - Ithomi from Kalamata
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Ancient Messene Day Trip from Costa Navarino
Ranked #86 of 364 things to do in Peloponnese
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Ancona, Italy
Level 6 Contributor
1,338 reviews
834 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1,706 helpful votes
“Freedom, military engineering”
Reviewed June 10, 2014

Many people, when they hear of this site, will wonder if it's really worth a visit. For me the answer was very definitely "yes" - the walls and towers in particular, which completely changed my idea of ancient Greek military engineering. It was obviously far, far more advanced than I'd imagined.

What see now are is the city built by the great Epaminondas after the battle of Leuctra, in which the Spartans were defeated and their centuries-old hegemony over Messenia finally broken, as a stronghold for their now-free Messenian helots, so that the Spartans couldn't take them back. So the site has historical and moral interest too.

The peace and quiet and the pure air are bonuses. It's not far from Kalamata, and not difficult to find. The road's good.

Visited July 2013
1 Thank ELear
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Barcelona, Spain
Level 5 Contributor
74 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 103 helpful votes
“A must-see in the Peloponnese”
Reviewed February 3, 2014

We visited the Ancient Messene ruins in October 2013.

Pros: Everything. From the theatre at the very beginning to the little temple at the end, it is one of the finest and well-preserved archaeological sites we visited in Greece.

Unlike other sites, they're putting a remarkable effort, when possible, on reconstruction. That means that you can roam around and feel like you're in ancient Greece in all of its splendour, specially in the Stadium, where they've lifted all the fallen columns they could (and they're still working on it).

Cons: None that I can think of.

Practical information and tips: We were sleeping at Kyparissia, so it was just a forty-minute drive from there. Any base camp at the west coast of the Peloponnese would do, though, and it's also near Olympia (we visited both sites on the same day). Roads are perfectly OK.

Allow a good two-three hours since the site is huge and you'll want to linger. There's no shadow, so be sure to bring water, hat and sunglasses. There are restrooms near the entrance, that were very clean.

The actual village is very little and doesn't have much to offer. Bring your own food and do a picnic at a nice square overlooking the ruins and the gorgeous countryside (we did that) or just eat somewhere else.

As in the rest of Greek sites, tickets are free for students (including college students), so remember to bring your ID card if you happen to be one.

Overall: A totally recommendable visit that is often (inexplicably!) overlooked. In my opinion, a must-see in the Peloponnese.

Visited October 2013
2 Thank Meritxell_P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
278 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 214 helpful votes
“Impressive site with few visitors”
Reviewed October 5, 2013

We had read about this site in our guide book (Bradt), which suggested that there was plenty to see, but that it remained largely unknown and attracted far fewer visitors than many less impressive excavations. This turned out to be a very accurate verdict.
We went here on our return journey from Finikounda to Athens. The road takes you past (modern) Messini and from the roundabout just outside the town the route to Ancient Messene is well signposted. It only takes some 20 minutes from there.
The current entrance fee to the site (without the museum) is 4 Euros. It is well worth it, but you can also visit several parts of Ancient Messene for free. One of these is the Arcadian Gate, just to the west of the main site. Just around the corner from there is a large section of the original walls, complete with (quite well preserved) watch towers. It is also worth walking around the perimeter fence by the entrance for a few minutes. You get good views of some of the mosaics and parts of the walls, which you cannot get from inside.
There are good information boards all over the site, which help you to understand what you are looking at. Allow around 2 to 3 hours to cover the main sights.
If - like us - you are on your way to Athens when you are leaving here, you actually get to drive through the Arcadian Gate. After around 20 minutes you get to the motorway junction near Meligalas/Meropi.

Visited October 2013
Thank TravelCriticWales
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
155 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 167 helpful votes
“An ancient Greek city totally preserved through time”
Reviewed April 6, 2013

You may reach this outstanding site by driving from Athens directly to Kalamata (about 2.5 hours on a perfect motorway today). After the last toll paying station just before enetring Kalamata you turn right towards the contemporary Messene village and then you follow the signs to Ithomi or ancient Messene, or using your GPS targeting "Ithomi" (the name of contemporary village adjacent to the ancient city of Messene). In the case that you drive from the west coast of Peloponnese (Patras) it is wiser (less kilometers) to drive the road to Olympia - Pyrgos and before Kyparissia you should turn left for kalamata and then rely on your GPS to get you to "Ithomi" again through a breathtaking but short landscape!
Prepare yourself to visit a complete ancient city, perfectly preserved through time and excavated in a unique way by professor Themelis.The city was based on the slope of a small mountain-hill (on top and all around this hill the city fortifications). If you choose the way to come through Kyparissia junction, you will actually enter the city limits by driving your car through the ancient east city gates!! The inclination of the hill is to considered when you start walking down hill (the road is above the main city relics) as you should some time walk uphill to find your car. We visited the place last december with my wife and as walking uphill - downhill is tiresome we found our selves wearing only T-shirts in winter time! The ancient city engineers resolved the huge problem of water "undemining their city buildings by gathering all water streaming downhill in a cleverly set big depot (well) and using this water for their actual everyday needs in buildings or agriculture.
These waters downhill, created the heaviset problems to the archaeological excavations and took a lot of time and resources for their technical solution in our times.
I seriously suggest that you better Google the address www.ancientmessene.gr which will give you all important historical information before you visit this extarordinary place. This site is
organized and set by official local source.
You need more than 3 hours to stay there and understand this wonderful ancient city and you better choose winter time to avoid high heat of summer plus the efforts of down hill/uphill walking.
when done with the city and the museum, do not miss to go and have lunch in a tavern of the contemporary village of Ithomi, on a balcony overlooking the archaeological site and the valley down to the city of Kalamata.
A place not to miss!

Visited December 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
47 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Trully beautiful site”
Reviewed October 26, 2012

The site of ancient Messene is lovely. Situated in the mountains above Kalamata it is the walled city built by the Messenians once freed from the yoke of the Spartans. What makes the site wonderful is that it is a fairly new excavation so everything is being done slowly and methodically. There are information boards everywhere which add to the experience. It is though a very large site so plan your viewing to the time available taking account of time available and the conditions you meet. We were a party of 12 and other than 4 very drunk British teenages, evidently suffering hangovers and sunstroke, we had the whole site to ourselves. There is an entrance fee which is I think about 6 euros for entry to the site plus the small museum up the road. We paid for both as we love Classical sculpture...and the museum houses a wonderful statue of Apollo.

The stadium and gymnasium ringed in columns is a wonderous site to behold.

There are toilets and free spring water available on site; and there are shade trees to sit and eat a picnic. It was 42 degrees when we were there in late August so had to pace ourselves, we had to top up the sun cream and keeps soaking our hats to help beat the heat. Oh and wear good shoes, there's a lot of walking needed to take in the enormity of the site - bear in mind its a city!!

Visited August 2012
1 Thank greccophile
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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