The incredibly well-preserved ruins of Ancient Messene make for an astonishing sight. A museum located right next to the archaeological site showcases artifacts and discoveries from the area as well, adding depth to the image of the city in your mind.
Visitors to the Peloponnese should add this underrated archaeological site to their itinerary. It’s not to be missed!
1. Visit the Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum in Messenia is a small two-story building that exhibits the findings from the archaeological excavations. The museum’s collections include copper votive offerings from the Sanctuary of Artemis Limnatis at Volymnos, and a hippocampus (seahorse) figurine that was unearthed from the site of Akovitika in Messenia. Also on display are ten thematic units that highlight the civic and cultural life of the people of Messenia in ancient times, including temples and public buildings.
The magnificent city of Ancient Messene is one of the most captivating archaeological sites in Greece. Visitors can walk the ancient streets and see the reconstructed grand structures like the theatre, Arsinoe fountain house, the Bouleuterion, and the Agora. In addition, the magnificent fortification walls, surrounded by towers and gates, are well-preserved along a ten-kilometer path. There are many Temples of Zeus and Poseidon, sanctuaries of Demetra and Dioskouroi, palaces, public buildings and houses, funerary monuments and more.
Located in the heart of the historical centre, the Archaeological Museum of Messenia showcases excavated antiquities from the region. Its extensive assemblage of exhibits is divided into four geographical areas in Messenia – Kalamata, Messene, Pylia, and Triphylia. The most impressive are the treasures from the Palace of Nestor and other vaulted Mycenaean tombs.
It is worth visiting the museum’s gift shop situated at its foyer to purchase true copies of ancient jewellery, casts, sculptures and more. The museum’s entrance fee is €5 per adult. It is free for children under the age of 12. For guided tours, contact the Archaeological Museum. The museum’s opening hours are from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. It is closed on Mondays and holidays. For further information, visit the museum’s official website.
2. Take a Boat Trip
Unlike many other beaches in Greece, the ones on the west coast of Messenia are not overcrowded with tourists. In this underrated part of the Peloponnese, you can enjoy pristine waters and a more authentic way of life.
A boat trip is the best way to explore this fascinating area & see some of its highlights. It’s a great opportunity to explore the fortified castles of Koroni & Methoni, discover the mysterious landscape of Polylimnio & swim in emerald lakes with majestic waterfalls.
The west coast of the Peloponnese is a dreamland for history lovers. It unveils impressive medieval castles, the ancient city of Messene & a landscape full of monuments. You can also explore the idyllic islands of the region, including the small but beautiful Proti Island. The name of this island comes from the Greek mythological creature Proteus, which resembles the sea god Poseidon’s crocodile.
If you want to get the most out of your time in Messenia, book a tour that will take you around the entire island. Many tours only go around half the island or stop for a sit-down lunch, which is not enough to make you feel like you’ve seen everything. It’s also a good idea to ask the locals which tour is the best one.
While the southwestern part of the Peloponnese is not as well-known as the north or the west, it’s just as charming. Few travelers visit this area, but those who do discover it will fall in love with its picturesque scenery & authentic lifestyle. This underrated area has a lot to offer, from ancient sites to magnificent Venetian fortresses and medieval villages. Discover a more peaceful side of the Peloponnese with a boat tour in Messenia.
3. Visit Koroni Castle
Located at the tip of the Messinian peninsula, the castle town of Koroni is dominated by another Venetian feat of fortification. Built towards the end of the 13th century, the castle, like its nearby counterpart at Methoni on the Ionian Sea, was a key strategic point guarding the southern coast of the Peloponnese and was often contested between various powers who wanted to control it. Due to their proximity and positioning, they are commonly referred to as the twin eyes of Venice in Greece.
The castle is a fine example of Venetian fortification technique and features bulky gates, underground passages and square towers. The tumultuous events that marked its history gave rise to a wealth of legends. It passed back and forth between the Ottomans, Frankish crusaders, and finally a Geonoese admiral before being finally reclaimed by the Venetians.
Koroni itself is a lovely seaside old town with aristocratic vibes thanks to its well-preserved stone homes, sloping streets and enchanting ambience. It is a popular destination in summer and the coastal road overflows with coffee shops and tavernas. Nearby, the beaches of Zanga and Finikounda beckon with their crystal clear waters.
Join a professional photographer on a half-day photo workshop and discover the beauty of the Messenia region through your camera lens. Your photo coach will share tips and tricks about landscape and wildlife photography and take you to picturesque spots in the area where you’ll learn how to capture images that will endure forever. The price includes lunch, transfers and entrance fees. It is recommended to book this activity in advance as it is popular. The cost depends on the number of participants and the length of the tour, but it is usually around €60 per person.
4. Visit Sapientza Island
The islets located south and west of Messenia may not look great at first glance – and thus escape mass attention – but they hide their own surprises. Sapientza is one of these: a small island on the southwest coast of Messenia directly opposite Methoni, it boasts its own unique beach and a rare feature of having the only arbutus forest in the Mediterranean.
The only beach on the island, called Ammos, is a small slice of paradise that captivates from the very moment you see it. In the northern part of the island, a created valley is dominated by the only arbutus tree in the region. A visit to the island is a great opportunity for a day out of the ordinary, far away from everything else.
The southern tip of the island is also home to an important lighthouse built in 1885. The importance of this lighthouse lies in the fact that it was situated over the main sea route between Italy and the Middle East. The frequent shipwrecks at the area led to the construction of an 8-meter high lighthouse that allowed the sailors to safely navigate the waters.
The southwestern Peloponnese is home to many mesmerizing beaches and historic landmarks, but it also offers unique nature experiences, culinary treats, and luxury accommodations. Make sure to put these destinations on your must-visit list next time you travel to Greece!
5. Visit Methoni Castle
This fortress is one of the most impressive and well-preserved castles in all of Europe. Originally built by crusaders, it is situated on St. Nicholas cape in southwest Greece and offers a spectacular view of both land and sea from its massive walls. In addition, it has also been strategically designed so that attacking it would be impossible due to its difficult accessibility by land or sea, making it a very effective fortress.
Inside, visitors can explore the many chambers and towers that make up the castle as well as take advantage of the stunning scenery from the various terraces. Guided tours are available for those interested in learning more about the castle’s history and architecture, and discounts may be offered to seniors or students depending on the site’s policies.
The surrounding area of Methoni Castle is filled with a variety of exciting activities for both young and old to enjoy. From hiking and biking to swimming and snorkeling, there is truly something for everyone in this scenic region. Additionally, there are a number of restaurants and bars nearby to choose from, providing the perfect opportunity to enjoy the local culture and cuisine.
Methoni Castle is a must-see destination for travelers visiting the Messinia region of Greece. Located in the southwestern part of the Peloponnese, this picturesque region offers a wealth of mesmerizing beaches, impressive archaeological sites and majestic Venetian castles. In contrast to other popular destinations in the country, Messinia is less crowded and more authentic. This makes it the ideal place to discover a more laid-back way of life while still enjoying the same breathtaking scenery that has made Greece famous around the world.