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Ancient Messini

NL - Ancient Messini is een een archeologische site in de gelijknamige streek in het zuidwesten van de Peloponnesos, ca 30 km van Kalamata. T

Ancient Messini is misschien wel één van de best bewaarde geheimen van de Peloponnesos. Het overtreft je verwachtingen. Er zijn zoveel highlights op deze archeologische bezienswaardigheid. De twee amfi-theaters, het stadion en de tempel zijn maar een paar voorbeelden. Deze archeologische vindplaats is in het jaar 369 voor Christus gesticht. Zeus zou hier volgens de lokale bevolking zijn geboren en niet op Kreta. De oorspronkelijke verdedigingsmuur was liefst 9,5 kilometer lang. Vanaf het dorpsplein van het hogergelegen dorp Mavromati heb je een fraai overzicht over de hele vallei.


GB - Ancient Messini is situated on a hillside below the village of Mavromati, 30 km's from Kalamata. Ancient Messini was founded in 371 BC after the Theban general Epaminondas defeated Sparta at the Battle of Leuctra, freeing the Messinians from almost 350 years of Spartan rule. Built on the site of an earlier stronghold, the new Messinian capital was one of a string of defensive positions designed to keep watch over Sparta. Epaminondas himself helped to plan the fortifications, which were based on a massive wall that stretched 9km around the surrounding ridges and completely enclosed the town. Apart from its defensive potential, Ancient Messini was also favoured by the gods. According to local myth, Zeus was born here – not in Crete – and raised by the nymphs Neda and Ithomi, who bathed him in the same spring that gives the modern village its name. The larger area is called Ithomi. The first construction you come across is the large theatre, reconstructed for contemporary use. The path leads past the tiered Fountain of Arsinoe building, which supplied the ancient city with water. Next is the extensive agora, with remains of long stoas (columned porticoes), a public bathhouse, a Doric temple dedicated to the deified patron of the city, Messene, and a treasury. The Greek general Philopoemen was held prisoner by the Messinians here in 183 BC and dispatched to the other world with poison. Beyond is the Sanctuary of Asclepius, the spiritual centre that lay at the heart of the ancient city, consisting of a rectangular courtyard fringed with Corinthian columns. Unlike at Epidavros, this was not so much a healing centre as a repository of cult statuary. This extensive complex was centred on a Doric temple that once housed a golden statue of Ithomi. The modern awning west of the temple protects the Artemision, where fragments of an enormous statue of Artemis Orthia were found. The structures on the east side of the Asclepion include the ekklesiasterion, which looks like a small theatre but once acted as an assembly hall. Nearby are the remains of a Roman villa, the steel roof protecting the mosaic remains. Head downhill to the large stadium, which is surrounded by a forest of restored columns. You can see where the Romans closed off part of the athletics track, turning it into a gladiator arena. On the left-hand side, near the arena, are the VIP seats – the ones with backs and with lion paws for legs. On the right-hand side, near the rebuilt gate of the enormous gymnasium, are round holes in stone slabs – Roman public toilets positioned over a stream. The gymnasium itself includes a washroom with very well-preserved basins around it. The curious building near the toilets is a grave memorial to an important Messinian family, and the Doric temple at the far end of the stadium is a mausoleum of the Saithidae, a prominent


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