• originally called Ithome
    • belonged, perhaps, to the Mycenaean kingdom headquartered in nearby Pylos

  • rebuilt, as Messene, around 369 B. C. by Epaminondas
    • the Theban general who defeated the Spartans and liberated the helots

  • became the capital of the state of Messenia


  • excavation, by French archaeologists, began in 1823, but stopped 10 years later

  • on-again, off-again digging until 1986
    • when Petros Themelis took over and made Messene an award-winning archaeological site
      • Europa Nostra Awards 2005 and 2011


The excavated site contains, among other things, the following structures:

  • from the Classical Era (480 - 323 B. C.)
    • tower
    • propylaea
    • walls

  • from the Hellentistic Era (323 - 31 B. C.)
    • stoas
    • fountain
    • bouleuterion
    • gymnasium
    • theater
    • stadium
    • various temples
    • tombs


For more information about the site, see this UNESCO World Heritage page.