The best-known and most extensive archaeological site in Messinia is the eponymous Messene. Founded by the Theban general in 369 BC, the ancient city of Messene offers a venerable archaeological treasure for visitors. Messene sprung out of the victory over Sparta and became the capital of the region of Messinia. It is perhaps the largest archaeological site in the country, including a stadium, remains of a large theatre, parts of the market town, watch towers, walls and much more. The original wall around the city of Messene was 9 kilometres long, heralded as an architectural gem that has been very well preserved. Several towers guard the wall and ensure its safety, such as the well-known Arcadian Gate which is a must-see for visitors.
In Messene, you can visit the local museum to see the Asklepieion, considered both a Doric temple and the temple of Artemis and Zeus. You will also come across the Arsinoe fountain and a pre-Christian church.
Located in the Eglianos region some four kilometres south of Chora, the palace of Nestoras dates as far back as the 13th century BC with five principle buildings, compared in grandeur to Tiryns and Mycenae. Two of the central rooms have inscriptions in an old pre-alphabet linear script (Grammiki B). Evidence shows that the palace was burnt down around 1200 BC, at the same time as Tiryns and Mycenae, for reasons unknown. Of interest are the surrounding areas as well, and the domed royal tomb.
Built on mount Kotilio at 1130 meters, the temple of Epicurius Apollo lies around 14 kilometres south of Andritsaina and was built between 420 to 400 BC where another temple from archaic times once stood. Arguably one of the best preserved monuments of the ancient world, the temple of Apollo within the sanctuary of Bassai has been designated as a Unesco World Heritage site.
Evidence suggests that the temple was built to honour Epicurius Apollo for saving the town from the plague. Some stipulate it was designed by the Iktinos, the same architect who designed the Acropolis in Athens. This temple is important because it is almost complete, combining three different architectural styles (Corinthian, Doric and Ionic).
In reality, there are two castles on Navarino Bay near Pylos, the older being Paliokastro (literally old castle) built by the Franks and the more recent being Niokastro (literally new castle) built by the Ottomans.
The impressive hexagonal Niokastro, more like a fort than a castle, functions as a centre of submarine archaeological research and a museum. At certain points the castle functioned as a mosque and then a church.
Graves of the Dioscuri in Kardamili