Archea (or Ancient) Messene was the most fascinating place we saw, even more than the Acropolis. It's huge, there are lots of remains, especially columns. and the stadium area is simply marvellous.
1 Looking south over the site of Archaea Messene from the excellent taverna in town, one can see most of the site except for the theater area. The western columns of the agora are 1/3 hidden by a tree on the right, and the stadium is in the distance, behind the Asclepion, on the left.
2 We visited this site partly on the recommendation of a French lady working in a shop near Mykenes. She described it accurately and lovingly. When you first come in, you see a stone staircase and a wall. Big deal. But push ahead...
3 Near the steps, an excavated mosaic floor and some broken columns.
4 As you continue past the steps, the vast area of the theater and the agora comes into view. It is rather overwhelming in its size and degree of restoration.
5 The theater, seen from the other side (the south).
6 The fountain building and the northern stoa (roofed area supported by rows of pillars) of the agora, which was huge, almost 35,000 m2.
7 The building of the so-called Arsinoe Fountain.
8 The Arsinoe Fountain.
9 Columns of the northern stoa of the agora.
10 The basilica, with the western columns of the agora in the background.
11 Beautiful colonnade of the western stoa of the agora.
12 This area has actually been identified as a butcher's shop, or abbatoir.
13 Ruins of a Doric temple dedicated to a local queen, Messene, considered to have been a god.
14 Gargoyles made up not of medieval monsters, but of ...
15 ... lions' heads.
16 Pushing farther on, one finally sees the emains of the huge Asclepion, a temple to Asclepius, the healing god (as at the temple at Epidauros).
17 The Asclepion was also surrounded by stoa, of which the bases of some columns still stand as reminders of former glory.
18 Decorations which were once above the columns.
19 The ekklisasterion looks like a theater but was apparently something like a lecture hall.
20 Looking back across columns and a tired tourist toward the theater.
21 Pushing on past the Asclepion, one finally sees the magnificent stadium, Heroon and Palaistra.
22 Along the eastern side alone, there are 76 columns standing. There must be about 200 in all. (Count them if you don't believe me.) There are fascinating pictures of the excavation and restauration on the Ancient Messene site.
23 Columns of the northern and western side.
24 The Heroon (or mausoleum) stands at the southern end of the stadium, beyond the double row of columns of the northern stoa.
25 The double columns of the northeastern stoa.
26 The stadium has horseshoe-shaped "bleachers" around three sides.
27 The northeastern corner, with Mount Ithomi in the background. There are ruins of a temple to Zeus on the mountain top.
28 The Heroon was probably a mausoleum in which members of a wealthy Messenian family were laid to rest.
29 The stadium and Mount Ithomi.
30 View from the Heroon of the stadium and Mount Ithomi.
31 Columns of the palaistra, a wrestling school or gymnasium.
32 The western city wall climbed to the top of Mount Ithomi.
33 Swedish tourist at the remains of the Arcadian Gate.
34 The wall climbs uphill from the Arcadian Gate.
35 The museum is too small, but they hope to enlarge one day. They have some lovely objects, such as this statue of Artemis, a Roman copy of a 4th-c. BCE Greek statue.
36 Statue of a lion killing and eating a deer.
37 Lovely statue of a young girl who lost her head.