”Excavations began by Spiros Marinatos in 1960, but his sudden death in an accident stopped the course of excavations.
In the late ’70s, Professor George Korres continued the excavations. In the area there are three (3) vaulted tombs inside which were found many golden bowls and jewelry, and great vessels, which date from the 16th to 15th century BC and exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Hora.
Ancient Messini is one of the most significant in size, shape and maintainance cities of antiquity, which still has much to offer. It was built on the foothills of Mount Ithome in 369 BC by the Theban general Epaminondas in place of prehistoric Ithomi with the help of Epitelis from Argos.
It was built for the settlement of refugees from Messinia and Arcadia and creation of a strong town, as a counterforce to Spartis.It doesn’t only have temples and public buildings, but fortifications and impressive residential and burial sites,too. It features, among other things, the rare privilege of not been destroyed or covered by modern settlements and is in a flat / Mediterranean predominantly intact natural environment. This natural environment combines the mountain grandeur of Delphi and the low riverside tranquility of Olympia, the dominant volume of the bare limestone of Ithomi, where there is the acropolis, and the low fertile valley around the ancient city. One can get there by car from Athens along the road Corinth – Tripoli – Megalopolis – Kalamata or road Corinth – Patra – Pyrgos – Kyparissia – Meligalas. From Olympia a travel by car is required for about an hour.
The city was protected by a circular wall built from large evenly-structured huge stone rocks of thickness from 2 to 2.5 m and height 4.5 m. The perimeter extended to 9,024 m, down from both sides of the mountain Ithomi an area of worship for Ithomata Zeus. The wall is technically one of the finest examples of architecture and fortification of the fourth century BC, with two gates on the east, the ‘Laconian’ the northwest, the ‘Arcadian’.
The Arcadian Gate is double and inside it there is a large circular courtyard and the walls bore battlements and towers overhead periodically and loopholes in two floors. The city center was in the location of today’s village Mavromati, while the Market was, according to what was known until 1986 and information that came to light during excavations conducted at ancient Messina by Professor of the University of Crete, Petros Themelis,The Arsinoe or Callirhoe Crini.
Inside the archaeological site was the Asklipio, temples of Poseidon, Aphrodite and Demeter, statues of the Mother of the Gods (work of Damophon the Messinian) of Lafias Artemis Eileithyia and the Dioscuri, the memorial statue ofAristomenis, Gym (‘Gymnasium’) and the Sevasteion or Kaisareion building dedicated in 14 AD at the worship of Roman emperors.
Close to the Market there are found remnants of the Court from the Alexandrine era, Ierothysio, and there were statues of all the gods of ancient Greece and the founder of the city’s general Epaminondas, and the ruins of the Theatre, of the parliament and the Stadium.
It was the capital of the federation of messinian cities (338-191 BC) and flourished during the Achaean and Aitolian league.
Temple of Apollo
Southwest of Andritsaina in an imposing and rugged mountain scenery is the magnificent temple of Apollo Epikourios, one of the largest temples of antiquity. The temple is located 14 km south of Andritsaina, at an altitude of 1,130 m, up on Mount Kotilio.
At this site, which in antiquity was called Bassai (which means small flat rocks), residents of neighboring Phigaleia had founded, from the 7th century BC, the temple of Apollo Vassita, whom they worshiped with the name of Epicurean – supporter in war or illness. The adjective Epicurean was given during the wars with Sparta in 650 BC.
The temple of Apollo in the sanctuary of Vasses is one of the finest surviving monuments of classical antiquity. Specifically, it is the best preserved temple after the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens. Of all the temples in the Peloponnese, after the temple of Tegea, could he take first place for the beauty of the marbles and the harmonious whole.
It was built in 420-400 BC in the place of an older, archaic temple. The traveler Pausanias, who visited and admired the monument in the middle of the second century AD, mentions as its architect Iktinos. The significance of the temple in the history of Greek architecture is unique as it combines an ingenious way the archaising elements dictated by the local religious tradition, with the bold,rejuvenating ideas of its creator.Oriented North-South and sizes 14,48 x38, 24m. at the pillar.
The narrow layout, the number of columns (6×15 instead of the normal for the season 6×13) and their arrangement are archaic features and refer to this model: the great temple of Apollo in Delphi. Coexisting harmoniously with progressive features of the mature classical Athenian architecture, such as the fineness of the columns, the low height of the shelf and the entablature and spaciousness of the vestibule and the opisthodomos. The great originality of the monument lies in the shaping of the interior.
In the nave there is the alignment of the colonnade on three sides, like the Parthenon and the Temple of Hephaestus (Thissio) in Athens, but the columns on the long sides are not free. They sprout from the walls as fine transverse partitions (similar to those of the ancient temple of Hera in Olympia), ending in Ionic half columns with specialties.
The colonnade supported an Ionic entablature with a carved frieze that ran around inside the four sides of the nave. It was 31 meters long and 23 plates with scenes of Amazons and Centaurs, located since 1814 in the British Museum. Behind the free Corinthian column in place of the closed sanctuary in other temples is made an enclosed space that communicates freely with the hand nave, “sees” because of the religious grounds to the east with a door that opens to the east wing. All these elements formed innovations that influenced the architectural progress of the latter centuries.
The temple is built of local limestone. Marble were the capitals of the nave, parts of the roof and the sculptural decoration. The ruin begun from the Roman times, first by the people and after the earthquakes. Sculptures of the decoration of the temple, including Amazons,are located in the Archaeological British Museum.
The frieze of the temple is a masterpiece composed of twenty-three marble slabs from which the eleven western depicted Centauromachy (Lapithos – Centaurs) and the eleven eastern Amazon (Athenians – Amazons). The central depth in depicting Apollo with the assistance of Diana,brought about justice, disturbed by the terrible fighting (Centaurs – Amazons). This is a real masterpiece, the vitality and expression of the forms, and the blended texture of the scenes, the classification of the best sculptural ornaments of antiquity. Unfortunately, these unique sculptures of the frieze of Apollo, during the Turkish occupation were perceived by Europeans and stolen. Today, most of them adorning the shelves of the British Museum, and the Louvre and Munich. Inside the temple there was a large (12 foot) bronze statue of Apollo, which by the testimony of Pausanias, when the great city was moved and placed there in front of the temple of Zeus Lykaion.
Today, the temple is preserved in the form taken by the work of restoration by the Archaeological Society at the beginning of the century. Since 1965, and systematically since 1982, the Ministry of Culture has undertaken the difficult task of maintaining and protecting the monument. The shelter, which protects the fragile building material from the extreme weather of the region, seismic rack and other installations are temporary, for as long as the rescue operations require it. Access to the site of the temple can be made from Megalopolis, through Karytaina, and Krestena of Ilia.