Ancient Messene lies on the foothills of mountain Ithomi near the village of Mavromati. This ancient city was very important in antiquity. A nine-kilometre wall protected the city from enemies. The excavations that have taken place and continue to the present day have brought to light various important buildings such as the theatre, the Arsinoe fountain, the ancient agora, the temple of Zeus Soter, the temple of Dioskouroi, the Asklepieion and many more. Visiting the ancient Messene is a must for anyone who visits Messene and loves antiquity.
The Palace of Nestor (Pylos)
The palace of king Nestor is located 13 km away from Pylos on the hill Epano Eglianou. This ancient building is considered to be one the best preserved Mycenaean palaces in Greece. The palace of Nestor comprises of four buildings, which are divided into compartments. It is characterized by colourful wall paintings that adorn the rooms, while it is important to mention that the palace was not protected by a surrounding wall. The reason for this was its geographical position that did not require any further protection from enemies. Nearby there is the beehive tomb of Nestor and his successor, Thrasimedes. The archaeological findings from the excavations that took place there are on display in the Hora Museum.
The Castle of Kalamata (Kalamata)
The Castle of Kalamata is located on a hill near the historic city centre and it overlooks the surrounding area, which is either way the reason it was built for. It was built by the Franks during the 13th century with the aim of establishing their dominance in the Peloponnese. Unfortunately after an earthquake which took place in 1986, the castle sustained a lot of damage and as a result, many parts and mostly its central part can no longer be visited. Visitors are only allowed to go to the perimeter, from which they can enjoy the wonderful view of the historic city centre of Kalamata. In 1950 a small theatre was built to the south of the castle, where during the summer visitors can see a theatrical play or take part in other cultural events that take place.
The Castle of Koroni (Koroni)
The Castle of Koroni is built to the southeast of the Messenian Gulf. It has been a very important commercial centre along with the Castle of Methoni since the 13th century as it is a communication node between the west and the east. The Castle of Koroni was built in the late 13th century by the Venetians and its strategic position on the highest part of the peninsula made it an ideal observation tower for watching the surrounding area. The castle is a wonderful example of Venetian architecture and it is characterized by massive gates, underground passages, strong walls and square towers.
The Castle of Methoni (Methoni)
The Castle of Methoni is situated to the southwest of the Peloponnese and it is considered to be one of the most characteristic examples of castle cities in Greece. The castle that was built by the Venetians in 1209 A.D. is situated next to the fortified island Bourtzi, with which it is joined through a small, arch bridge. During the first Venetian rule (13th-15th century) the castle went through a period of great growth but around 1828, when the population moved outside the walls, the castle was abandoned. Today it attracts many tourists and despite its desolate appearance it continues to convey the historical significance of the area.
The Castle of Zarnata
On the northwestern borders of Mani, next to the town of Kampos Avia and over a hill, one can see the Castle of Zarnata. It is considered to be one of the most important castles in the area and the discovery of polygonal walls in the base of the castle verifies that it was built over an ancient acropolis, maybe the acropolis of Enopi. The castle was built in the mid 17th century and it is characterized by a polygonal wall that is 364 metres long and 8-10 metres high. On the whole, it comprises of six towers, two round ones and four square ones, while in its centre there is a large tower with 6 out of the 51 cannons that used to be in the castle. It occupied an area of 6 acres and there were two gates, one to the northwest and one to the southeast, which led inside.
Niokastro, or as it is otherwise known New Navarino, is situated next to the entrance to the port of Pylos. Niokastro started being built around 1573 by the Ottomans. Its name was chosen so that it would differ from Palaiokastro or Old Navarino that was built by the Franks and was located in the old harbor. Niokastro is considered to be one of the most beautiful and well preserved castles in Greece and it attracts thousands of tourists every summer.
The Tower of Kapetanakides
The Tower of Kapetanakides, or otherwise known as the Castle of Kapetanakides, is situated on the top of a hill called Petrovouni next to the village Haravgi in Sotirianika. This fort is a classical example of the architecture in Mani. When you enter the yard, to the right you see the large tower which is the most important building. The view of the Messenian Gulf from this tower is unique. To the left there is a smaller tower, next to which there is the church of Prophet Ilias. The complex is in a very good condition and it is definitely one of the best sights in Mani.
The monastery of Voulkanou (Ancient Messene)
The Old monastery of Voulkanou is situated on a rock on the top of mount Ithomi next to the ancient Messene. It is said that this monastery was probably built by monks in the early 8th century. However, due to the adverse weather conditions that made the monks’ life difficult, in the mid 17th century the monastery was abandoned and a new monastery was built to the south where the weather conditions were more favourable. The holy remains of many saints of the Orthodox Church, as well as many documents are kept there. The most important of all is the miraculous icon of Panagia Voulkaniotissa. Nowadays the old monastery of Voulkanou has a mess only from 1st to 15th August while the new monastery is now only a male monastery.
The Monastery of Saints Konstantinos and Eleni (Kalamata)
Near the historic city centre of Kalamata, only one kilometer away from it, there is the holy monastery of Saints Konstantinos and Elenim which is often called monastery of Kalogreon because since the day it was founded it has been a female monastery and it does a lot for the local community. The monastery was founded in 1796 and its catholikon is built on an ancient temple dating back to the 13th century. Apart from the monastery, there is a second temple that is dedicated to the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
Monastery of Velanidia (Monastery of the Oak Tree) (Kalamata)
The holy monastery of Zoodohos Pigi (Life-Giving Spring) in Velanidia is situated 6 km north to the city of Kalamata at an altitude of 400 metres. The monastery was named after an oak tree that was inside and according to the inscription over the door it was founded in 1679. This monastery played a particularly important role during the Greek Revolution.