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]
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.
The six archaeological sites in Messene now attract over 221,000 visitors a year (2019).
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.
Excavations at the Panhellenic sanctuary of Isthmia in the Peloponnese uncovered remains of the balbides starting-gate from the stadion. There were a sixteen starting-gates (on the right of the picture) that were controlled by strings that passed along grooves leading to the pit where the ‘starter’ was positions. The gate ‘system’ appears to date to the 5th century BC, although its use may have been limited.
The Ptolemaic fortified base of Arsinoe in the Peloponnese is located on the eastern side of the Methana peninsula, facing the island of Poros. The base was located on the Nissaki, joined to the peninsula by a narrow spit. Beyond it, and to the south, was an inlet that contained (according to an inscription relating to a boundary dispute) Ptolemaic naval installations, a drag way, as well as tunny traps. This was adjacent to the narrow isthmus that joins the peninsula to the Troezenia.
For further details about the base see here (“Arsinoe in the Peloponnese: the Ptolemaic base on the Methana peninsula”).
The temple of Despoina at the site of Lykosoura lies high in the mountains of Arkadia. It appears to have been constructed in the late 3rd century BC. There is a Doric facade at the east end. The base for the cult statues lies at the west end. The sculptor was Damophon of Messenia.
Excavations recovered some of the sculptures that are now in the National Museum in Athens.
A door lies on the south side. This faces a series of steps placed on the steep bank. It is possible that this was an area for those observing the rituals.
The fort guarding the isthmus leading to the Methana peninsula marks the site of Taktikopolis, established during the Greek War of Independence. It served as the base of the Frenchman Colonel Fabvier, and was probably constructed in 1826-27. Fabvier considered the base to be ‘the Cadiz of Greece’.
The fort appears to have been designed to contain artillery, with two towers facing the approach from the south.
Immediately to the north of the fort, and slightly overlapping with it, is a classical or hellenistic elliptical defence work.
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.