Ancient Ithome Messene information

The buildings of the city of Ancient Messene have the same orientation and follow up the grid which is formed by parallel (orientation EW) and perpendicular (orientation NS) roads. This system of city planning is the so called Hippodameian system named after its original inventor, Hippodamus from Miletus, an architect, geometrician and astronomer of the 5th c. B.C. This plan was pre-determined, strictly geometric in nature, and based on the virtues of the democratic constitution, that is, the principles of isonomy (equality before the law), of isopolity (equal civic rights) and of isomoiria (equal share in landownership); still, it could afford to adapt to the peculiarities of the landscape and the particular climatic conditions of each site so that it conformed smoothly with the natural environment. It is according to these very principles that Ancient Messene, the new capital of the free and independent Messenia, was built in 369 B.C. by Epameinondas from Thebes. Messene was worshipped as a goddess. She was one of the principal deities of the city together with Zeus Ithomatas and, in the Hellenistic times (3rd-2nd c. B.C.) when the Asklepieion was built, she was worshipped probably together with Asklepios who was also a chthonic deity of fertility, of life and death historically linked to the pre-dorian past of the land of Messene.

Messene is a significant ancient city in terms of its size, form, and state of preservation, and still has much to offer. It possesses not only sanctuaries and public buildings, but also imposing fortifications, and houses and tombs. It enjoys, amongst other things, the advantage of never having been destroyed or covered by later settlements, and is located on an unspoiled inland site. Its natural setting combines the grandeur of the mountains of Delphi with the low-lying, riverine tranquillity of Olympia, the dominating bare limestone mass of Ithome, the site of the ancient acropolis, with the low fertile valley around the ancient city.
To reach Messene from Athens you have to drive through the highway Corinth - Tripolis - Megalopolis - Kalamata or Corinth - Patras - Pyrgos - Kyparissia - Meligalas. From Olympia the journey to Messene lasts only 1 and 1/2 hr by car (around 75km.)

The Museum includes findings of the excavations conducted by the Archaeological Society in ancient Messene. These originally date from 1895 by Themistokles Sofoulis , George Oikonomou (1905 and 1926), Anastasios Orlandos (1957-1975) and Petros Themelis (from 1986 to today). The museum was built between 1968 to 1972 on the western side of the village of Mavromati, on property donated by the D.Latzounis
Extensive construction and restoration activity has taken place during the years 1992-1996. The Museum extends on two levels and bears a simple architectural character . The first floor comprises three exhibition halls and balcony whereas the storage rooms are located on the ground level. Architectural fragments and inscribed limestone slabs are exhibited in the open square-court of the Museum and the sheltered areas.
Opening hours: Tuesdays to Sundays 7.30 - 14.30 (Mondays closed) Tel.: ++302724051201 
In 1895, the Archaeological Society begun systematic excavations at the site under the direction of the archaeologist Themistocles Sophoulis, a native of Samos who later pursued a prominent career in politics. Excavating activity was resumed in 1909 and 1925 under the direction of G. Oikonomou. In 1957 Anastasios Orlandos who was at the time the Secretary of the Archaeological Society and member of the Academy of Athens took charge of the excavation project of Ancient Messene and worked until 1974. The excavation conducted by Anastasios Orlandos and his predecessors brought to light the greatest part of the building complex of the Asklepieion. In 1978 the entry on Messene appeared in the 15th volume of the German Opus Real Encyclopadie by L. Meyer, while in 1979 a translation and substantial commentary in modern Greek on the Messeniaka of Pausanias was published by N. Papachatzis. In 1986 the Board of the Archaeological Society assigned the direction of the excavation project to professor Petros Themelis. Excavations and work on the restoration of the extant monuments started in 1987 and continues to the present day showing significant progress. All the secular and sacred buildings which Pausanias saw and described in his work during his visit in the time of Emperor Antoninus Pius (155-160A.D.), have been brought to light under P.Themelis direction.