Ancient Messene South Peloponnese

Sixty three km away from Kardamili village-an hour and ten minutes- you meet ancient Messene. Messene is a significant ancient city in terms of its size, form, and state of preservation, and still has much to offer. It possesses not only sanctuaries and public buildings, but also imposing fortifications, and houses and tombs. It enjoys, amongst other things, the advantage of never having been destroyed or covered by later settlements, and is located on an unspoiled inland site. Its natural setting combines the grandeur of the mountains of Delphi with the low-lying, riverine tranquillity of Olympia, the dominating bare limestone mass of Ithome, the site of the ancient acropolis, with the low fertile valley around the ancient city.

The buildings of the city of Ancient Messene have the same orientation and follow up the grid which is formed by parallel (orientation EW) and perpendicular (orientation NS) roads. This system of city planning is the so called Hippodameian system named after its original inventor, Hippodamus from Miletus, an architect, geometrician and astronomer of the 5th c. B.C. This plan was pre-determined, strictly geometric in nature, and based on the virtues of the democratic constitution, that is, the principles of isonomy (equality before the law), of isopolity (equal civic rights) and of isomoiria (equal share in landownership); still, it could afford to adapt to the peculiarities of the landscape and the particular climatic conditions of each site so that it conformed smoothly with the natural environment. It is according to these very principles that Ancient Messene, the new capital of the free and independent Messenia, was built in 369 B.C. by Epameinondas from Thebes. Messene was worshipped as a goddess. She was one of the principal deities of the city together with Zeus Ithomatas and, in the Hellenistic times (3rd-2nd c. B.C.) when the Asklepieion was built, she was worshipped probably together with Asklepios who was also a chthonic deity of fertility, of life and death historically linked to the pre-dorian past of the land of Messene.