Fínikounda en Omstreken

Een artikel van Claire May

The Region of Messinia

The Region of Messinia Messinia lays on the southern part of mainland Greece, now divided from the mainland by the Corinth Canal. The peninsula hosts some of the most important and impressive ancient sites in Greece. It has a warm winter, it's not too hot in summer and boasts some of the best and cleanest beaches in the whole of Greece. Even in the height of the summer holiday season there are no more than a handful of people to be seen on them.

The mountain landscape of the Messinian Mani is simple stunning and is dominated by Taygetos, one of the largest mountain ranges in the Peloponnese. Whereas the Messinian peninsular has rolling hills and fertile valleys. It is considered to be the market garden and wine centre of Greece. Messinia is an ideal place to relax and go for walks. Wander off the beaten track into the old hill towns and discover the true beauty of the region.

A world apart from the islands, the beautiful and sparsely populated, the Peloponnese is a bastion of disappearing Greek village life. The rural villages in this area are beautifully authentic, traditional and spread out. The local villagers are friendly and welcoming, often plying newcomers with gifts of wine and oranges. The small town of Methoni is on the south western tip of the Peloponnese. It is 60km from Kalamata 11km from Pylos. The neighbouring town of Fínikounda lays 68km south-west of Kalamata, 12km from Methoni and has 626 inhabitants.

The Town of Methoni

Methoni is dominated by its impressive fortress which stretches out into the sea and is separated from the town by a wide (and now dry) moat.

Methoni fortress joins those in Crete and Cyprus as a stepping stone on the pilgrim route to the holy land. Methoni was also an important commercial port throughout the Middle Ages. Homer called Methoni "rich in vines" and tradition maintains that the town is so called because the donkeys (oni) carrying its wine used to get drunk (metho) from the heavy aroma.

Homer also mentioned that Methoni was one of the seven cities that Agamemnon offered Achilles in order to alleviate his anger. The pretty town of Methoni is built in an amphitheatre. Its pleasant old houses with their wrought-iron balconies shelter behind the fortress. The cobble streets and alleyways meander down the hillside into the flower clad square by the beach.

There are numerous shady courtyards fully of hibiscuses, roses, geraniums and grape vines. Methoni has a delightfully lazy Greek atmosphere. Methoni beach lies below the fortress and is well known for its magnificent, uncrowded, long stretch of sand and shallow sea. It was awarded a blue flag in 2001 and is ideal for families. In season there is a good selection of traditional Greek tavernas, restaurants, bars, banks and supermarkets.

The Fortress of Methoni

The fortress is the best preserved in the entire Mediterranean. As you enter the fortress there is a coat-of-arms and inscription on the wall that represents the lion of Saint Mark. Evidence of past visitors includes the remnants of a Venetian cathedral and a Turkish bath. Also inside the fortress is an entire medieval town. There are some enormous Venetian wells whose marble rims have been furrowed by the pressure of huge ropes over the centuries. Out side the fortress the Venetians dug a ditch and built a wooden bridge which was later replaced by a stone one with 14 arches. You can literally spend hours wandering around.

The site was fortified as early as the 7th century B.C., and in the period between 395 A.D. and 1204 A.D. was used as a Byzantine fortress. The area was dominated by the Franks for a very short period and in 1206 was captured by the Venetians who strengthened the fortification, incorporating the pre-Christian defensive structures. In 1500 Methoni was captured by the Turk Bayazit Pasha, again came under Venetian occupation from 1685 until 1715, and was for a second time dominated by the Turks who kept it under their control until 1829, when it was liberated by the French general Maison, along with other towns of the Peloponnese.

For many years the buildings of the fortress have been restored by the Archaeological Service. The most important monuments of the site are:

  • The fortress and remains of a secular, religious buildings inside the fortified area.
  • The Byzantine church of Aghia Sophia (Holy Wisdom).
  • The remains of Turkish Baths.
  • The ruins of a house which was used as the residence of Ibrahim Pasha in 1826, and of General Maison after the liberation.
  • The church of the Metamorphosis (Transfiguration). A single-aisled church built in 1833 by the French liberation army.
  • The remains of structures from the Second World War. The Cisterns and remains of the cemetery of the British prisoners.
  • "Bourtzi" . A fortified islet at the south end of the fortress, occupied by an octagonal tower with isodomic wall masonry

The Town of Fínikounda

Fínikounda is the "Finkous Limin" that was mention by Pausanias. Ancient ruins can still be seen scattered around the areas of Analipsi and Anemomilos. Fínikounda is one of the most picturesque fishing villages in Greece. It is located in a beautiful sheltered bay built almost at the point where the wave lap at the shore. It nestles in a lee anchorage opposite the Islet of Shciza. Caiques and fishing boats moor in the shelter of its harbour and anchor all along its sandy shore. The seafront is lined with tavernas serving their freshly caught fish. Fínikounda is famed for its excellent sea and the town has a golden sandy beach with shallow azure waters ideal for swimming. To the east just beyond the rocky jetty is Paradise beach. Anemomios beach to the west of Finikounda is another popular beach with a broad stretch of golden sand and is back by wild sandunes. There are many other excellent beach nearby to explore. Every Year the Municipal beaches are awarded the European Blue Flag. Fínikounda also offers water sport such as wind surfing and sailing in the summer season.

Inousses Islands

This group of 4 islands is scattered along the coastline and has been included in the Natura 2000 programme. These islands include; Sapienza, Agia, Marina, and Schia.

The islands are inhabited by pheasants, partridges, wild goat, sheep, and are supervised by rangers. South west of the island of Sapienza there is and abyss called the well of Inousses which is the deepest point of the Mederterian with a depth of 5,121. Scientists of the Nestor Project are currently carrying out research. The results are providing signification information about past and future of the universe.

A sunken settlement has been discovered on the bottom of the ocean between the island of Sapienza and Methoni. It has prove to be of great archaeological importance. There are also an abundance of shipwrecks from all ages shattered across the seabed making it excellent for diving.

Boat trips around these islands can be taken daily.  

Evangelismos

Evangelismos.... The old main road climbs gently up the rolling green hills. There are stunning views of the coastline below. Half way between Methoni and Finikounda the road brings you to the village of Evagelismos, one of the largest villages in the area. Evagelismos is an authentic Greek village with narrow streets, shops, cafes, and brightly painted houses with courtyards full of colourful flowers.

In the mornings the village has a lively atmosphere. The locals busy themselves with daily chores or sit in one of the cafes and watch the world go by. After the peace and quiet of siesta time the village once again awakes.

Fínikounda

A world apart from the islands, the beautiful and sparsely populated, the Peloponnese is a bastion of disappearing Greek village life. The rural villages in this area are beautifully authentic, traditional and spread out. The local villagers are friendly and welcoming, often plying newcomers with gifts of wine and oranges.

Other villages

Other Villages Near Methoni There several other colourful, traditional villages to explore in the municipal of Methoni including Kamaria, Varakes, Kenourgio, Horio, Finiki and Lahanada. They are to be found clustered among the green hills and each has a character of their own.

Dreams

Methoni and Fínikounda conjure up romantic images and are the stuff that dreams are made of. Visitors will fall in love with this area taking away many treasured memories and will want to return again and again.