Above is a photograph of the city of Kalamata taken from the Castle
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Kalamata is the second largest city of the Peloponnese peninsula, after Patras, in southern Greece and the largest city of Messinia. The capital and chief port of the Messenia regional unit, it lies along the Nedon River at the head of the Messenian Gulf. Kalamata is renowned as the land of the Kalamatianos dance and Kalamata olives.
The history of Kalamata begins with Homer, who mentions Pharai, an ancient city built more or less where the Kalamata Castle stands today. It was believed that during ancient times the area that the city presently occupies was covered by the sea, but the proto-Greek and archaic period remains (Poseidon temple) that were unearthed at Akovitika region prove the opposite.
On Saturday 13th September 1986, at 20:24 local time, an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 and focal depth of 22 km struck Kalamata. The main earthquakes epicentre was very near Kalamata. Damage was extensive in most parts of the town, as well as some nearby villages and 20 people lost their lives while 330 were injured (82 of whom required hospitalization).
Many aftershocks followed, the greatest of which occurred two days later and was centred within the town limits and had surface-wave magnitude 5.4 and focal depth 8 km. This aftershock caused an additional 37 injuries and further damage to the already weakened buildings.
Casualties were reduced in the city because a large crowd of about 5,000 people was gathered in the open air on the waterfront for the inauguration of a new ferry liner connecting the region with the island of Crete.
Approximately 3150 buildings were destroyed and 10,000 people were rendered homeless. The cost of the earthquake was estimated at about 750 million US$.
Kalamata has now fully recovered and developed into a modern provincial capital. Today, Kalamata has the second largest population and mercantile activity in Peloponnese. It makes important exports, particularly of local products such as raisins, olives and olive oil.
Aristomenos Square in the centre of Kalamata, is the place where everyone goes to meet friends - and you can see why. It is a large, open space with a whole range of bars and cafes to choose from, the perfect spot to watch the world go by.
Kalamata became one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean sea. It is not surprising that the second-oldest Chamber of Commerce in the Mediterranean, after that of Marseille, exists here.
The harbour in Kalamata is an intergral part of the city. There are many small fishing boats that operate from here as well as sailing vessels in the summer, making trips around the Messinian Gulf. Also during the summer the port has visits from large cruise ships that dock for the day so that passengers can visit Kalamata.
Kalamata is a modern marina which has a capacity to accommodate 250 yachts with a maximum length of 25m. and 3m. draught. All berths are equipped with electricity and potable water. There are dry docking facilities for about 150 boats, with a 60-ton travelift to facilitate the manoeuvre of boats in and out of the water. The marina offers a full range of technical services covering a wide range of maintenance and repair works.
It is considered by many to be the ideal location to take refuge and rest as it is the passage from the Mediterranean and the Ionian Sea to the Aegean Sea.
WORLD WAR II
In late April 1941, thousands of Allied troops moved through Greece's Peloponnese on their way to the embarkation beaches that had been established across the peninsula, from Nafplio and Monemvasia to Kalamata. Along the way, these troops fought desperate rearguard actions to delay and defeat the advancing German forces invading Greece. The campaign in the Peloponnese had begun with the defence of the Corinth Canal in April 1941, where Australian, New Zealand and British troops stopped German paratroops from capturing the bridge across the canal.
By 26 April, between 18,000 and 20,000 troops were assembled at Kalamata. These included Australia, New Zealand, British and Greek troops. Among the British troops were around 2,000 members of the Palestine and Cyprus Labour Corps. There were also some 2,000 Yugoslav soldiers and merchant seamen from sunken transport ships - all awaiting evacuation from the Kalamata waterfront. But sadly, not all of these could be evacuated, with the Allied naval evacuation force being under constant air attack, and many ships and crews lost in the effort.
THE BATTLE OF KALAMATA
On the night of 26 April, some 8,650 Allied troops had been evacuated. By 28 April around 8,000 Allied troops remained in Kalamata waiting vainly for evacuation. At 6.00 pm about 200 German troops with artillery launched a fierce attack on the town. Overrunning British troops defending the north of the town, the Germans seized part of the harbour and the Allied port-master.
The Allies defeated the German forces, taking over 100 prisoners, killing 41 and wounding 60. The attack was led by New Zealand Sergeant Jack Hinton, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery during this engagement. Seventy Australian troops took part in the charge led by the 2/6th Battalion's Captain Albert Gray, a former shop assistant from Red Cliffs. Gray was awarded the Military Cross for bravery. Both Hinton and Gray would eventually be captured. Many Allied Troops were killed or taken prisoner. Many of them would end up in Stalag 18A - Wolfsberg in Austria. Those who died in the battle of Kalamata and the other battles in the Peloponnese are buried and honoured in Athens' Phaleron War Cemetery.
More than 40,000 Allied troops were evacuated from Kalamata and other embarkation beaches across Greece, including thousands of Greek troops. Many of these troops would go on to defend Crete against the Allied invasion in May 1941. The vast majority of Greek forces defending Crete were regiments raised from the towns and villages of the Peloponnese.
The memorial to the fallen is situated near the entrance to the Railway Park. The inscription reads -
IN MEMORY OF THE ALLIED FORCES AND THE GREEKS WHO FELL AT THE BATTLE OF KALAMATA 28 APRIL 1941 OR WHO WERE TAKEN PRISONER OR WHO ESCAPED TO FIGHT AGAIN THAT THE WORLD MIGHT BE FREE.
Dedicated by the Veterans of the Campaign 17 May 1994.
There are many attractions in Kalamata, one being the Municipal Railway Park situated not far from the harbour. It is the only open-air museum of its kind in Greece and popular among all Railway friends worldwide. It was founded in September 1986, but due to the devastating earthquake in the city at the time, it was only completed in 1990.
The Railway Park occupies a total area of 54,000 m2 in one of the most central locations; 24,600 m2 were donated by OSE SA, including the two-floor building of the old station and a water tower. Another 28,000 m2 were donated by the Municipality of Kalamata and 1,400 m2 by the Agricultural Bank of Greece.
Seven steam locomotives and one diesel wagon, a manual crane (1890), two drezines (bicycle- and manually operated), three passenger vehicles of first class, five of first-second class (1885), eight trucks of various types (1885-1947) are showcased as well as platforms and rails.
Kalamata was served by a metre gauge railway line of the former Piraeus, Athens and Peloponnese Railways. There used to be a mainline train service to Kyparissia, Pyrgos and Patras, and a suburban service to Messini and the General Hospital. However, in December 2010 all train services from Kalamata, along with those in the rest of the Peloponnese south of Corinth, were discontinued on economic grounds and the railway is closed indefinitely.
The Archaeological Museum of Messenia (Kalamata) is located at the heart of the historic centre of Kalamata, near the church of Agio Apostoloi where the Municipal Market of the city used to be. Following the earthquake in 1986, the Market building was demolished, as it had been severely damaged. The building which replaced the old Market was given by the Municipality of Kalamata to the Ministry of Culture in order to become an Archaeological Museum.
The exhibition aims to display the antiquities of Messenia from the Prehistoric times until the Byzantine era in the most complete way possible, so that the visitor may form a well rounded view of the cultural development of each region through the ages by visiting each exhibition section.
Reflecting the old geographical division of the prefecture into four provinces, Kalamata, Messene, Pylia, Trifylia, the exhibition unfolds in corresponding large geographical sections, which comprise the most important archaeological sites and representative antiquities, either from excavations or surface surveys, or occasionally from citizens.
In order to "enter" into geographical sections, the visitor follows a main roadmap, which snakes among the displays and the exhibits.
Tickets: Full admission: €3, Reduced admission: €2 Opening Hours: Monday: 13.30 - 20.00 Weekdays, Sundays and Holidays: 8.00 - 20.00
Located in the Kalamata's historical centre is the Historical & Folklore Museum of Kalamata, which is housed in a manor that was donated to the Municipality by the Kyriakou family to the Municipality and initially housed the Association for the Promotion of Education and Literature, and from 1936 to 1945 it was a centre against illiteracy. The museum opened its doors in 1973 but from 1986 to 2002 was closed because the building needed to be fixed from the huge damages caused by the big earthquake of 1986.
Through the museum's exhibits the visitor becomes a partaker in the Kalamata residents' lifestyle and daily life of yesteryear, while being shown how agricultural industry, weaving, pottery and other urban occupations operated and closely observing the representations of the town's traditional home and coffee shop.
The ground floor of the museum creates a complete image of the pre-industrial lifestyle in Messenia. It is divided into thematic units, which represent the rural life, the manufacturing industry, the art of weaving and the pottery.
On the second floor, there is the typesetting unit, since the first printing houses of liberated Greece were in Kalamata. In the same floor, there are also recreations of the traditional houses and coffee-houses of the city and finally there is a large room with objects from the Greek Revolution, as well as traditional costumes and works of ecclesiastical and byzantine art.
Open all year round. WORKING DAYS/HOURS Wednesday - Saturday: 09.00-13.00, Sunday: 10.00-13.00 Tickets: €3
The building on Mitropolitou Meletiou Street that once housed the old Metropolis of Messinia in Kalamata's historical centre in now home to the Military Museum of Kalamata which is run by the Army. The Museum was founded in 2005 for the purpose of presenting the history of modern Greece, from the Revolution of 1821 until the present day, through photographs, documents and audiovisual material.
The museum's collection is divided into themes among which you will find uniforms, war and photographic material from the Battle of 1821, exhibits from the Macedonia Struggle with references to Messinian Macedonian Fighters and items from the Balkan Wars.
Great emphasis has been placed on the Asia Minor Catastrophe, while there are also dedications to World Wars I and II, the battles of the Cretan Forts, the Middle East and the National Resistance.
References are also made to the Greek army's peacekeeping operations in Somalia, Korea, former Yugoslavia, the Gulf War and Afghanistan. A significant exhibit is the catalogue of Messinians that died while participating in battles from 1897 until 1974. In the museum's outdoor area, you can also see a tank, an armored military vehicle, guns and an aircraft,(this area was not pointed out to me).
Everything in the museum is beautifully presented and the exhibits are extremely interesting. Some of the photographs are amazing. You are shown round by a soldier who will explain anything that you need to know. Well worth a visit!
Open all year round. WORKING DAYS/HOURS Tuesday - Saturday: 09.00-14.00, Wednesday: 18.00-20.00, Sunday: 11.00-14.00.
The Museum of Traditional Greek Costumes is a cultural gem born of the passion, perseverance and dedication of one woman in particular. Collector and donor Victoria Karelia is the President of the Lyceum of Greek Women of Kalamata, and the museum is a result of her efforts.
The costumes and their various components narrate the history of local folk dress from the mid-18th to early-20th century, combining modern stage design and an exemplary use of sound and light. The signs describing the displays have been replaced by touch screens that make the experience interactive and enjoyable.
Black is the color that dominates the building so as not to detract from the costumes themselves, the tall climate-controlled glass cases bring the costumes to life with subtle moving mechanisms, and the costumes and accessories glow under the exemplary lighting.
Each piece was restored, identified, catalogued, classified and photographed to create the exhibits in their present form for visitors to enjoy, a process requiring thousands of hours of hard work and incredible attention to detail. Just dressing each of the custom-made mannequins often took an entire day.
Opening Hours - 9am-2pm Tue-Sat, 6-8pm Wed, 11am-2pm Sun
General Entrance: 5€. Groups, Individualls under 12 & over 65 years of age: 3€. Schools: 2€
Agioi Apostoloi is a Byzantine church, built in 1317 by the Emperor Andronikos in March 23 Square in the centre of Kalamata. On Wednesday, March 23 1821, Theodoros Kolokotronis, together with the other leaders and Greek warriors liberated Kalamata from the Turks and assembled with the population and the clergy in the square of Agio Apostoloi, where the first Christian mass was said on free Greek territory after 400 years of slavery. In this church the Greeks took an oath of loyalty to the revolution.
The church actually consists of two temples built five centuries apart as the two domes show.
The first one in the eastern part of the church with free cross style was built in the late 11th to early 12th century and the second one with cross single room dome dates back to the Venetian rule of the late 17th to early 18th century. In the oldest part of Agioi Apostoloi are frescoes dating back to the 16th and 17th century, which have been preserved despite the extensive damage due to the earthquake in 1986. Agioi Apostoloi suffered considerable damage twice in its history: in 1884 when part of the bell tower collapsed because of an earthquake and in 1892 when the Byzantine frescoes were covered with lime. After the earthquake in 1986 the church was restored back to its original form.
There are many churches in Kalamata, many of them very big and most of them beautiful.
Kalamata's cathedral of the Ypapanti (Presentation of the Lord to the Temple) nestles beneath the 14th-century Frankish castle. The foundation stone was laid on January 25, 1860, and the building was consecrated on August 19, 1873.
It suffered great damage during the 1986 earthquake but was subsequently restored. The Festival of the Ypapanti (27 January through 9 February) is of national importance for the Greek Orthodox Church and, locally, the occasion for a holiday (2 February), when the litany of what is believed to be a miraculous icon, first introduced in 1889, takes place.
In late January 2010 the city hosted the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the cathedral. He was offered the golden key of the city. The region around Kalamata has provided two Ecumenical patriarchs in the past.
Kalamata has a Mediterranean Climate with mild, and wet winters and dry, hot summers. Kalamata receives plenty of wet days in winter. Summers are very hot and dry. The maximum temperature ever recorded at Kalamata is 45.6C and the minimum ever recorded is -5C.
The seafront road along the city's extensive beach is 4 km in length with marvellous water. On the beach of Kalamata, people can swim in crystal clear waters and enjoy the sand and pebble beach, which has been granted the Blue Flag award of quality. Along the front, there are many tavernas, restaurants, cafeterias, bars, clubs, whereas beach aficionados can enjoy all kinds of water sports.
Also when swimming you can look at the magnificent Taygetos mountain range towering above the water.
There are also many beautiful hotels all along the length of the front from the marina to the far end of the beach.
Please see Castles for photographs and information on Kalamata Castle
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