Ancient Messene
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The Hidden Wonders of Ancient Messene
I visited Ancient Messene on a hot summer's day, having gathered from the guide book that this was as yet an undiscovered gem in terms of the tourist trail, mainly because there are other more accessible Ancient Greek sites to visit in the Peloponnese, such as Corinth, Olympia, and Sparta. I found there to be no problem with getting there - a straight forward drive in the rental car, with the odd twist and turn in the road, but nothing precipitous. The unassuming entrance off the road gave little clue as to the wonders that I would find once inside this incredible place. What I discovered was quite simply magnificent. An ancient settlement of vast size, Messene tells a story through its buildings of a once great people that were only able to create such a wonder once the civilians had freed themselves from the stranglehold of the Ancient Spartans. The Messenians took advantage of the beautiful location to establish a city of great architecture, so much of which can still be appreciated today, and apparently a fair bit of which is yet to be uncovered. As you wonder among the wide array of buildings, including temples, a market place, a gymnasium, the wonderful theatre (which inspired me to do a re-enactment of my favourite play, in my head at least), and the vast and magnificent stadium, you get a sense of a highly advanced and cultured people. Can I compare this to the magnitude and importance of Pompeii? Well, I have to say yes to that, but without all the tourists.
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