A passage through centuries
Messinia is the birthplace of the wise king Nestor. It is the place that was claimed and conquered by many, different civilizations but also the area that witnessed some of the most crucial and heroic battles of the Greek Revolution for Independence in 1821.
The Nileides dynasty
According to historical references, the Messinian land was inhabited throughout the prehistoric period (7.000 – 1.000 BC), mainly in the areas of Pylia and Trifilia.
There is reference that Leleges and Caucones (not Greek tribes) were the first inhabitants of this region, while the first Greeks who inhabited the area were the Aeolians who originated in Thessaly and spread in many other parts of Greece such as Aetolia, Locris, Korinth, Elis and of course Messinia where they were first established in the ancient city of Andania.
It is the period of time when Nileas, Nestor’s father, founded the dynasty of Nileides with the See in Pylos.
The peak and decline of Pylos
The peak of the State of Pylos is placed between 1600 – 1100 BC, when Messinia was considered to be the most densely inhabited area of Peloponnesus. Indicative of the growth of the state of Pylos were the findings in Ano Eglianos (the See of the Kings of Mycenae in Pylos), where there is evidence of the existence of one of the biggest and most important Mycenae centres in Messinia and all over Greece with a palace, a city and graves. The peak of the state of Pylos comes to an end with the Dorian invasion of the area of Peloponnesus and consequently Pylos. It is the time when most of the cities were destroyed and the majority of the Messinian population was forced to expatriate.
The Messinians become 'helots'
The biggest adventure for the Messinian people actually began in the 8th century B.C, when after three big wars that lasted up to the middle of the 5th century B.C. Messinia was conquered by the Spartans. The Messinians became helots (slaves) and remained under the Spartan rule up to 369B.C when Epameinondas the Theban liberated them and built Messini which was established to be the capital of Messinia.
Romans, Goths, Avars, Slavs and other conquerors
Messinia had been destroyed twice before its conquest by the Romans in 146 B.C. Since then its fate was the same as that of Greece.
From the 4th up to the early 9th century A.D., Messinia and the rest of Peloponnesus was attacked by Goths, Avars and Slavs.
After the fall of Constantinople (1453) Messinia became part of the Principality of Achaia under the rule of the Frank ruler Geoffroi de Villehardouin with Kalamata as its centre.
The castles of Methoni and Koroni were Venetian dominions.
Under the Ottoman rule
The Frank dominion of Messinia lasted approximately two centuries before it was eventually conquered by the Turks in 1498. In 1769-1770 Messinia was once again destroyed after a tremendous assault by Turks and Albanians as a punishment after the failure of the Orlov Revolt.
The war of Independence
In March 1821 Messinia experienced one of the most important moments of its history. On 23rd of March, Petrobeis Mavromichalis, Kolokotronis and Papaflessas declared the beginning of the Greek Revolution in Kalamata, setting all Messinia free, except for the fortresses of Methoni and Koroni.
Up to 1825 Messinia had been free before Ibrahim launched a raid against Peloponnesus which despite the heroic resistance of Papaflessas in Maniaki resulted in the total destruction of the whole area.
On 20th October 1827 the allied fleet crushed the Turkish-Egyptian fleet in an epic naval battle in the gulf of Navarino, saving thus the Greek revolution and consequently the future of the Greek nation.
• The dynasty of Nileides and wise Nestor of Homer
• Messinians become helots
• Romans, Slavs, Goths, Venetians, Avars and Ottomans conquer Messinia
• Declaration of the Greek revolution
• The battle in Maniaki
• Naval battle in Navarino