My Messinia

The Great Wall of Ancient Messene

DSC_0260σDSC_0149sDSC_0159sLast year around May I learned that my proposal for a late summer performance at the site of Ancient Messene has been accepted and I imagined that as the preparation of this brand new event called ΑΝΩTERRA will make me visit the site of Ancient Messene so more often, it will also give me the opportunity to study the site in depth, something so necessary for this specific performance and as a side project, I dreamt to photograph each of its monuments in detail. I started this “side” project eagerly in June, by exploring first all the remaining parts of the original fortifications of the ancient city which in the past were nine and a half kilometres long. The truth is that later on I was so caught in the preparation of ΑΝΩTERRA (along with Vasiliki Tsagari)* that the idea of making a detailed photo album for each monument was put on hold. Now being in quarantine made me reach for these first photos.

So walk the great walls of Ancient Messini with me now before we step inside…DSC_0141DSC_0254sDSC_0142sThe fortifications can be traced along the full 9.5 km circle but most of them cannot be reached by foot because they pass through dense vegetation, private lots etc…  I started by approaching the part of the fortifications which are close to the main road leading to Andromonastiro. There you can walk along and upon the walls and visit the cylindrical bastions and square towers built of giant square stones extracted from the Mount Ithome and offering astounding views on the valleys of Stenyclaros to the North and Malaria to the South.DSC_0124sDSC_0191sDSC_0211sDSC_0185sAs you gaze at the all year round verdant valleys, eternal mountains that protect them and the everlasting sea far in the background you are taken with the feeling of eudemony. Get ready to sense how harmony and peace feel as you step over the stone blocks, as you hear the sounds of the olive groves below, as you submerge your eyes into shades of serene green and blue. DSC_0208sThe towers are also a great place to pause as they offer shade …you can read a poem here, write something, have a chat or just look at the world through very fancy and large “windows” …DSC_0155sDSC_0200sDSC_0198sDSC_0225sDSC_0203sAt times the view will be slightly obstructed by intricate webs… DSC_0173sThese fortifications were the strongest in Messinia region and strategically as important for the Peloponnese as those in Ancient Corinth. They were built in 3rd century B.C simultaneously with the city of Ithome (Ancient Messene). The walls follow the natural formation of the ground and at some point they climb the tall peak of the Ithome Mountain where the sanctuary of Zeus Ithomatas was located, the most ancient in the area (900 to 700 B.C) and now a place of the 7th century A.D. monastery of Vulcano (read here about the Old Monastery of Panaceas Vulcano ). DSC_0175sDSC_0183sFrom the top of the Ithome Mount the walls descen reaching the Arcadian Gate, the most impressive part of the fortifications preserved from the ancient times. It is the Western entrance to the city while the Eastern gate called Laconian has been destroyed. At the Arcadian Gate, a monumental monolithic pillar, which now can be seen fallen sideways and broken in two, once stood in the centre dividing the entrance in two openings leading to the circular space.DSC_0277sDSC_0286sDSC_0264σDSC_0263sDSC_0279σOnce we pass the Arcadian Gate we find ourselves approaching the magical city…

(hopefully I will see it soon once the quarantine restrictions are over

now the site is at its best, filled with spring flowers and sounds of running springs).DSC_0296s

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Source: Ancient Messene by Petros Themelis-Kapon Editions

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