Messolonghi is a small town in western Greece, with a population of about 34,000 people. It is the capital of the Aetolia-Acarnania regional unit and the seat of the municipality of Iera Polis Messolongiou, which means “Sacred Town of Messolonghi”.
What is Messolonghi Known For?
But what makes this town so sacred and famous? Here are some of the reasons:
- Messolonghi is famous for its natural beauty. The town is built around a stunning sea lake, which is home to many species of birds, fish, and plants. The lake is also dotted with tiny fishermen houses, called “pelades”, which create a picturesque scenery. The lake is connected to the Gulf of Patras by a narrow channel, where visitors can enjoy boat rides and fishing activities. The town is also surrounded by the Arakynthos mountains, which offer hiking trails and panoramic views.
- Messolonghi is famous for its historical significance. The town played a crucial role in the Greek War of Independence (1821-1830), as it was one of the main centers of resistance against the Ottoman Empire. The town endured three sieges by the Ottomans, in 1822, 1823, and 1825-1826. The third and final siege lasted for almost a year and ended with the heroic Exodus of Messolonghi, when the besieged inhabitants tried to break through the enemy lines and escape. Unfortunately, most of them were killed or captured by the Ottomans, but their sacrifice inspired the rest of Greece and Europe to support the Greek cause. The Garden of Heroes, a beautiful park in the center of the town, commemorates this tragic event and honors the fallen heroes.
- Messolonghi is famous for its cultural heritage. The town has been a source of inspiration for many artists, writers, and poets, both Greek and foreign. One of the most notable visitors was Lord Byron, the famous British poet and philhellene, who arrived in Messolonghi in 1824 to support the Greek Revolution. He died there a few months later from a fever and his heart was buried in the town. His statue stands in front of the Town Hall, while his house has been turned into a museum. Other notable figures who lived or visited Messolonghi include Kostis Palamas, Dionysios Solomos, Andreas Kalvos, Jean-Gabriel Eynard, and Hans Christian Andersen.
Famous Drinks in Messolonghi
One of the best ways to enjoy the authentic flavor of Messolonghi is to try some of its local drinks. Here are some of the most famous ones:
- Tsipouro: Tsipouro is a traditional Greek spirit made from distilled grape pomace. It has a strong alcohol content (around 40%) and a distinctive aroma. It is usually served in small glasses with ice and water, or plain as an aperitif. Tsipouro is often accompanied by meze, small dishes of cheese, olives, seafood, or meat.
- Ouzo: Ouzo is another popular Greek spirit made from distilled grapes and flavored with anise. It has a similar alcohol content as tsipouro (around 40%) but a sweeter taste. It is also served in small glasses with ice and water, or plain as an aperitif. Ouzo turns white when mixed with water, creating a cloudy effect known as “ouzo effect”. Ouzo is also enjoyed with meze or seafood dishes.
- Wine: Wine is one of the oldest and most beloved drinks in Greece, dating back to ancient times. Messolonghi produces some excellent wines from local grape varieties, such as Roditis, Savatiano, Mavrodaphne, and Agiorgitiko. The wines have a fruity flavor and a light color and can be dry or sweet. Wine is usually served in glasses or carafes with meals or snacks.
- Coffee: Coffee is an essential part of Greek culture and lifestyle. Greeks love to drink coffee at any time of the day, either at home or at cafes. There are many types of coffee in Greece, but the most common ones are Greek coffee (also known as Turkish coffee), frappe (a cold instant coffee with milk and sugar), freddo espresso (a cold espresso with ice), and freddo cappuccino (a cold cappuccino with ice and foam). Coffee is usually served in small cups or glasses with water and sugar.
Famous Sports in Messolonghi
Messolonghi offers many opportunities for sports enthusiasts to enjoy their favorite activities or try something new. Here are some of the most famous sports in Messolonghi:
- Sailing: Sailing is one of the most popular sports in Messolonghi, thanks to its ideal location on the sea lake and the gulf. There are several sailing clubs and schools in the town, where visitors can learn how to sail or rent a boat. Sailing is a great way to explore the beauty of the lake and the nearby islands, such as Tourlida, Prokopanistos, and Agios Sostis.
- Fishing: Fishing is another favorite sport in Messolonghi, as the lake and the gulf are rich in fish and seafood. Visitors can join fishing tours or rent fishing equipment and try their luck. Some of the most common fish species in the area are eels, mullets, sea breams, sea basses, and shrimps. Fishing is not only a sport but also a tradition and a way of life for many locals.
- Hiking: Hiking is a great sport for those who love nature and adventure. Messolonghi has many hiking trails that lead to the Arakynthos mountains or the surrounding villages. The trails offer stunning views of the lake, the gulf, and the countryside. Some of the most popular hiking destinations are the Monastery of Agios Symeon, the Klisoura Gorge, and the Kryoneri Waterfall.
- Cycling: Cycling is another sport that allows visitors to discover the beauty of Messolonghi and its surroundings. There are many cycling routes that cover different levels of difficulty and distance. Some of the most scenic routes are the ones that follow the coastline of the lake or the gulf, passing by beaches, wetlands, and lagoons.
Famous Streets in Messolonghi
Messolonghi has many charming streets that reflect its history, culture, and character. Here are some of the most famous ones:
- Byron Street: Byron Street is one of the main streets in Messolonghi, named after Lord Byron, the British poet and philhellene who died in the town in 1824. The street is lined with neoclassical buildings, cafes, restaurants, and shops. It leads to the Town Hall, where Byron’s statue stands, and to the Garden of Heroes, where his heart is buried.
- Palamas Street: Palamas Street is another important street in Messolonghi, named after Kostis Palamas, one of the most influential Greek poets and writers of the 19th and 20th centuries. He was born in Messolonghi in 1859 and spent his childhood there. The street is home to his house-museum, where visitors can see his personal belongings and manuscripts. The street also hosts cultural events and festivals throughout the year.
- Ethnikis Antistaseos Street: Ethnikis Antistaseos Street (meaning “National Resistance Street”) is a street that commemorates the role of Messolonghi in the Greek War of Independence. The street runs along the old walls of the town, where the sieges and battles took place. The street has many monuments and plaques that honor the heroes and martyrs of the war. The street also offers a panoramic view of the lake and the gulf.
- Iroon Polytechniou Street: Iroon Polytechniou Street (meaning “Heroes of Polytechnic Street”) is a street that pays tribute to the students who protested against the military dictatorship in Greece in 1973. The street is decorated with murals and graffiti that express political and social messages. The street also has a lively atmosphere, as it is full of bars, clubs, and music venues.
FAQs about Messolonghi
Here are some frequently asked questions about Messolonghi:
- How do you get to Messolonghi? You can get to Messolonghi by car, bus, or train. By car, you can take the new Greek National Motorway 5 (Ionia Odos) that passes north of Messolonghi. By bus, you can take one of the Intercity Buses Of Aitoloakarnania that connect Messolonghi with Athens , Patras , Thessaloniki , Volos , Lamia , Larisa , Livadeia , Chalkida , Amfilochia , Astakos , Vonitsa , Mitikas , Thermo , Agrinio , etc. By train, you can take one of the Hellenic Railways Organisation trains from Krioneri to Agrinio that stop at Messolonghi.
- What is there to do in Messolonghi? There are many things to do in Messolonghi, such as visiting its museums (Byron Museum, Palamas Museum, History and Art Museum), its monuments (Garden of Heroes, Monastery of Agios Symeon), its churches (Cathedral of Agios Spyridon, Church of Panagia Finikias), its beaches (Kryoneri Beach
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