Messene (Greek Μεσσήνη ( f sg ) ) is an ancient Greek polis (city) in the southwestern Peloponnese. She made the capital of Messinia in antiquity. A modern village of the same name Messini located about 16 km southeast near the coast of the Messenian Gulf to the Ionian Sea and has about 10,000 inhabitants.

Geographical location

Between the companies included in the fortification Ithome mountain ( 798 m) and Mount Eua strategically located, the city was able to develop well, as there were no neighboring larger cities.


The Theban commander Epaminondas called after the victory over Sparta back who fled before the Spartan domination and widely scattered Messenians and established 369 BC with them Messene as the capital of the new state of Messenia. Messene had some importance even in the Roman Empire. The remains of a basilica occupy a settlement even in the early Byzantine period.


A description of the ancient travel writer Pausanias ( 4.31 to 33 ) permits identification of considerable parts excavated only recently monuments that are still being reconstructed and re-erected. Messene was studied intensively only in recent years and is most extensive archaeological site in Greece. It is therefore subject to constant changes in excavation and reconstruction status.

The city wall

The Odeon, the Agora in the background with the asclepieion

The stadium with back upright rows of seats

The stadium, 360 °

In the area of the ancient city center there are remains of the theater, the 40 m wide fountain house of Arsinoe are - the local legend, daughter of the Messenian king Leucippus and mother of the god Asklepios; thereafter a small approach in a hall is exposed, probably the northern hall of the Agora.

City ​​wall

Formerly a total of 9 km long city walls date from the founding of the city - maybe only from the 3rd century - and are among the best preserved in Greece. The wall is backed by numerous towers of half-round and square plan. In the northwest, the monumental Arcadian gate lies with a round courtyard. Outside the door, the remains of some large tombs were excavated.


Most important is the building complex of the asclepieion for which a date is proposed soon after 215 BC. A ring temple hall ( Peripteros ) in the Doric order of 6 to 12 columns and a front situated Altarbau are in a approximate the square yard of about 66 m to 72 m. The farm is surrounded on all sides by two-aisled halls ( Stoicism), each with 21 or 23 columns on the front and a double row of columns wide on the inside. The columns are surmounted by Corinthian capitals with imaginative Erotendarstellungen and carry an entablature from Faszienarchitrav and frieze with bull skulls and garlands ( Bukranion ) is ornamented. At the Halls numerous rooms are outside attached: To the east are the sides of the main entrance ( propylon ) a Versammlungsbau ( Ekklesiasterion ) and two large halls. To the west is a series of small rooms, which usually open in full width to the hall way ( exedra ). In them numerous statues were erected; room served as a sanctuary of Artemis. In the northern chamber row another monumental propylon is included which establishes the connection to the higher road and probably the Agora with a staircase. In regions alongside these stairs two large halls ( Sebasteion or Caesareion ) were subsequently set up to worship the Roman emperor.


About 200 meters further down the slope, the monumental complex of a stadium was excavated in recent years - the most impressive and best-preserved ruins of the city. One enters the stadium at its northwest corner by a re- erect propylon in the Doric order. There have been directly exposed several honorary graves outside the stadium west.

The northern part of the stadium is surrounded by a length of 110 m on all three sides of buildings in the Doric order, many of which columns were re-erected. The north end of the runway is surrounded by horseshoe-shaped stone steps, which stands at the southern end were no seats and are now (2008) attached with lawn. At the opposite end of the stadium, the start area, a Heroon was in the form of a four-columned Prostylostempels, which is currently being rebuilt. It is evaluated according to the latest research results as a mausoleum of the family of Saithidae, an influential family from the 1st to 3rd century AD