Greece is known for having some of the most famous and incredible ruins anywhere in the world. Many people know about the Acropolis, Delphi, Olympia, and Sparta but not many people know about ancient Messene. Ancient Messene sits on the Peloponnese near Kalamata and is definitely worth the small detour. Despite not being well known, Messene is one of the more impressive ruins in all of Greece. Messene was built in 369 BC and was one of the most prominent cities at the time. The ruins are extremely well preserved as it is one of the few places where the city was not destroyed or built over.
The far distance from Athens makes this historical site not crowded at all. We were two of maybe 30 people in the entire city! Yes, the site is the size of a small city and does require some walking. The entrance to the ruins at Messene sits below a more modern small village and has a very low fee to enter. From the top of the modern village you get a great view of the entire ruins and has a couple of great restaurants. Nearby to the ruins is a small museum with some statues and other items excavated from the site.
The City Walls
Just northwest of the main site are the ancient walls that protected the city and they are still doing their job!
After entering the ruins the first main site is a large theater. It is crazy to imagine what it must have been like sitting in here watching a show over 2,000 years ago.
Nearby to the theater were tons of smaller ruins including some great tile work.
Heading down the hill and through some more smaller ruins you eventually get to the most impressive part of Messene, the stadium! We spent a lot of time walking around here where games used to be held.
No stadium in ancient or modern times would be complete without toilets! I wonder if they had toilet paper and hoarded it too?
At the very end of the stadium sits a ceremonial structure with the classic Greek columns.
Heading back up the hill and towards the entrance we found another great theater. The backdrop of the entire place was spectacular with the mountains and forests surrounding it.
Anyone near Kalamata or exploring the Peloponnese should take the time to explore Messene. Our favorite part was the lack of crowds here! It would be a great place to social distance while taking in the historical site and amazing scenery. So take a day and go wander the most impressive Greek ruins no one knows about!