Battle of Navarino: the British Monument

The British Monument, Navarino © David Gill

Next week is the 200th anniversary of the start of the Greek War of Independence. The Battle of Navarino, in the south-west Peloponnese, took place on 20 October 1827 when the allied fleet of Britain, France and Russia defeated the Ottomans.

The British monument is placed on one of the small islands in the bay. Some of the ships were subsequently based at Nauplion.

For more on the Royal Navy in Greece in this period:

Gill, D. W. J., and C. Gill. 2010. “H.M.S. Belvidera and the Temple of Minerva.” Notes and Queries 57: 199-210. [DOI]

The British Monument, Navarino © David Gill

Heritage tourism: Messenia

The fortress, Pylos © David Gill

Messenia in the south-west Peloponnese has been developing as a tourist destination. One of the main archaeological attractions is the classical city of Messene, and the Late Bronze palace near Pylos (‘Nestor’s Palace’). The fortresses at Pylos and Methoni are now tourist attractions in their own right with 46,000 and 71,000 visitors respectively.

Methoni © David Gill

The six archaeological sites in Messene now attract over 221,000 visitors a year (2019).

Data: Hellenic Statistical Service. Chart © David Gill

Heritage tourism: Messene

Messene from Mount Ithome © David Gill

The ancient city of Messene in the Peloponnese, below Mount Ithome, is becoming an important tourist attraction for this part of Messenia. Since 2014 it has been on the UNESCO tentative list for World Heritage. Numbers to the central part of the site have been monitored since 2012, and in 2019 were over 65,000. A small proportion of visitors visit the site museum: in 2014 there were over 9,000.

Messene © David Gill

The extensive site includes some of the best preserved ancient fortifications in Greece.

Data source: Hellenic Statistical Service. Chart © David Gill

Heritage Tourism in Greece: Nestor’s Palace

Nestor’s Palace © David Gill

The bronze age palace near Pylos was the findspot of a major archive of Linear B tablets that shed light on the economy of this part of Messenia. The location is popularly known as Nestor’s Palace.

The finds from the site are displayed in the nearby Chora Museum. Notice how the forecourt makes the visual allusion to the hearth in the palace.

Chora Museum © David Gill
Chora Museum © David Gill

Both locations attract significant numbers of tourists to this part of the Peloponnese. I have added data from the nearby museum at Pylos that also contains some regional finds.

Data Source: Hellenic Statistical Service. Chart © David Gill.

The walls of Messene

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The walls of Messene © David Gill

The fourth century BC city of Messene is surrounded by some of the most impressive surviving examples of Greek walls. The walls were protected by a series of towers that were used for artillery.

The foundation was in 369 BC, and brought together Messenian communities that had been dispersed at the end of the fifth century BC.

The Palace of Nestor

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Archive Room, the Palace of Nestor © David Gill

One of my favourite archaeological sites is the ‘Palace of Nestor’ in the western Peloponnese overlooking Pylos. The Bronze Age palace contained a major archive of clay tablets written in Linear B that provide significant insights into the arrangements of Messenia in the Late Bronze Age.

Much of the site is protected by a specially constructed covering.

Nestor’s Guide

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One of my favourite sites is the Late Bronze ‘Palace of Nestor’ near Pylos in the Peloponnese. I first explored the site with a copy of the guide prepared by Carl W. Blegen and Marion Rawson in my hands: A Guide to the Palace of Nestor (The University of Cincinnati, 1967). There are 32 pages of text with 34 images along with an extremely helpful numbered plan printed inside the back cover. Among the illustrations are (black and white) reconstructions by Piet de Jong (see a review of his work here). The sections are:

a. Foreword. This has the helpful statement: ‘The purpose of this Guide is to help interested visitors to find their way about the Palace of Nestor’. (Writers of guides need to remember this!)

b. History of the excavations.

c. The site.

d. The palace.

e. Architecture.

f. Main building.

g. Southwestern building.

h. Northeastern building.

i. Wine magazine.

j. Northeastern part of citadel.

k. Tholos tombs.

l. Identification and date of the Palace.

The guide has now been updated with additions by Jack L. Davis and Cynthia W Shelmerdine, A Guide to the Palace of Nestor, Mycenaean Sites in its Environs and the Chora Museum (Princeton NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2001).

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The illustrations include some of the colour reconstructions by Piet de Jong. The booklet includes a section ‘Life in Mycenaean Pylos’ based in part on the Linear B tablets. from the palace’s archive. There are helpful plans of the Chora Museum to help visitors around the exhibits.

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