It becomes known in history in the 16th century just before the sea battle of Nafpaktos on 7 October 1571. During the pre-Christian period in this area of Messolonghi there were 3 ancient towns. Kalidona, near the village of Evinohori and Plevrona, while in more recent years, Alikirna which is built just below the historical monastery of St. Simeon .
The first inhabitants were fishermen and
sailors living in straw huts positioned on small islands in the lagoon of Patra. Perhaps, later on,
the area was called Mezzo Langhi by the Italians which means "between the lakes".
played a very important role during the Greek uprising. In 1822 the Turks tried
to take it but were unsuccessful. Four years later the inhabitants of Messolonghi
unfortunately succumbed against the Turks who surrounded the Town and on 10
April 1826 they decided on the mass Exodus of Messolonghi . Unfortunately the
plan was betrayed to the Turks and the consequences were tragic .
Perhaps Messolonghi fell but her history
stands high and illuminates hearts throughout the ages of the free man .
In 1829 Messolonghi was liberated from
the Turks and started again to flourish. In 1835 they appointed a mayor and
in 1937 the government decided to name it the SACRED TOWN OF GREECE
. In the ensuing years, the town of Messolonghi produced 5 famous Prime Ministers,
many people of history, many poets, artists and scientists, architects and literately
men. It developed as tourist attraction being a town symbolizing freedom and
a place where there were many memorials in the Garden of Heroes .
Everywhere memories are revived of
the 1821 uprising especially when we see all the monuments of Philhellenes,
heroes, the tombs of Markos Botsaris, Kyriakos Mavromihalis, to the Swiss Philhellene
Johann-Jacob Mayer and other Greek heroes and the heroic English Philhellene
and poet Lord Byron whose last breath was left in Messolonghi . The busts and
the monuments of the Heroes offer an image of the town, light as opposed to
dark and civilization as opposed to barbarism. The museum of History and Art
is the second interesting place to visit and is situated in the center of the
square of Markos Botsaris and it is in the building which was the Town Hall.
The building was erected in 1932, here we see a rich selection of paintings
both by Greek and foreign painters, who are inspired by the struggle and the
Exodus of Messolonghi .
At the entrance are the busts of the
Messolonghi men who became Prime Ministers of Greece, e.g. Harilao Trikoupi
and Epaminonda Deligiorgi. Within you will find the bust of the historic Prime
Minister Spiridon Trikoupi and paintings of the Greek Revolution. In a prominent
position are big paintings of the blowing up of the armament by Christo Kapsali,
the freedom which rises from the ruins of Messolonghi by the French painter
Delacroix, the welcome of Lord Byron to Messolonghi, the heroic Exodus of Messolonghi,
the marvelous painting by the French artist Delansac depicting the self sacrifice
of woman Messolonghite and the emotional picture of the Exodus which is paraded
during the annual festivity of Exodus which takes place on Saturday, Lazarus
Day and Palm Sunday .
the museum there is also a room exclusively for Lord Byron, with oil paintings,
letters, portraits of the poet, the people that he met, the places he visited
during his stay in Greece and which he expressed in his poems, personal items
and letters specifically of his Philhellene efforts. In a prominent position
is his statue which was donated by the Canadian Embassy. The nobly family of
Palamanians had its impact as well. At a house which stands out architecturally,
the ancestor of the Palamanians, Panagiotis Palamas was born in 1722 and was
considered as the teacher of the Greek origins. In the same house, stayed our
National poet Kostis Palamas when in 1865 he became an orphan. Both his parents
died and he went to the house of his father's brother Demetrios Palamas. Here
he stayed until he completed his education and wrote his first poems. In the
halls, the corridors and balcony conservatory of the house, one finds personal
items, paintings, documents from his life and great deeds. Opposite this house,
is the house which is the birthplace of the politician Spiridon Trikoupis and
where Harilaos Trikoupis the great modern politician of Greece lived .
It is not by chance that the 2 facets
of modern Greece met at the same place, the political and poetical, Harilaos
Trikoupis the politician and Kostas Palamas the poet, their houses neighboring
each other in the old part of the city. Soon this house will be given to the
Community by the present owner, the last inheritor Kostandinos Trikoupis and
will become the Tricoupian museum.
A lot of places remind and stir the
emotions of many visitors such as the neighborhood of Kapsali, the position
of the house of Lord Byron, the noble house of John Trikoupi which is situated
at the end of Mayer road near the "first arch", the noble house of
Zafirio or Zinovio Valvi where the public library is housed, and the local historical
center. The position of the house of Bishop Josef of Rogon near the Xenokratio
public school, the windmill, the small church of Panagia of Phoenekia, 2 km
outside Messolonghi, where Lord Byron often visited and the historic Monastery
of Agios Simeon which is 8 km from Messolonghi.
Every year on the Saturday of Lazarus
and Palm Sunday Messolonghi and the whole nation honors the big sacrifice of
the heroic Exodus of Messolonghi as the poet and academic Nikeforus Vretakos
said, "Everyone from around the nation must fervently and wholeheartedly
congregate around Messolonghi with faith."
It should be essential for the children
of all schools in the country to orientate themselves towards Messolonghi for
a momentary silence and remembrance. After the Parthenon of Athens and St Sophia
of Constantinople, Messolonghi is considered also a great place.
During Pentecost there is great joyfulness,
music, laughter and bands especially at the well known National religious festival
from the historical side of Messolonghi, it is also a unique aquatic place whereby
it provides a lot of sanctuaries for Flora and Fauna and is a main source of
common salt, supplying all Greece : Rare types of birds like Nanoglarona (dwarf
seagulls), Kalamokanaves (long-legged birds), water swallows, mollusc (mussel)
eating birds, sphirichtres (whistling sea-birds) koridali (yellow type of finch)
and so many others nesting on the bushes of the sea lakes.
It is indeed those sea lakes that gives
the beauty of the town and make the fish-producing center of Greece. The fisherman's
life, the type of fishing and the unique sunset attract many visitors. In older
times, barges were propelled by sails but now only a few enthusiasts use them.
The local cuisine is mainly fish so
plentifully available from the lakes, every type of fish in its season has a
special local recipe and one can taste these things in restaurants and ouzeri
(ouzo taverns) in the town. It is famous for fish roe from the female kefalo
during the month of August. The magical road of 5 km jutting into the sea leads
us to the coast of the Patraic Gulf with its beautifyl beach of Tourlida. There
the visitors can combine swimming and fishing. Sufferers from certain ailments
benefit from the spa waters of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) at the historic small
island called Klisovas just before reaching Tourlida.
Generally Messolonghi is a universal symbol of the struggle of nations for dignity and freedom, offers great interest and opportunities for further touristic promotion.