By the moment the plan of our visit to Nafpaktos came in my hands, the first thing that thrilled me was the scheduled visit to Messolonghi.
Till then I have never been to Messolonghi. I hadn’t even heard any kind of descriptions of friends. It was a totally unknown city to me. So the chance to visit it and have a tour in its sights couldn’t but thrilled me.
And I considered myself lucky for two reasons. The first one was that along with my team of Travel Blogger Greece I participated in the week of tourism “Go West” organized by Go Nafpaktia. And the second reason was that we had as a guide the excellent and very well grounded Giorgos Apostolakos and as hosts the people from the agency Discover Messolonghi.
Both sides talked to us with knowledge, love and passion for their place. You could easily detect the pride their words for their birthplace hid.
Visit in the Garden of Heroes
Our first stop was in one of the most important sights of Messolonghi. The Garden of Heroes. It is an area of fourteen acres in which the people of Messolonghi during the Messolonghi siege used to bury their dead.
Capodistrias was the one who in 1830 decided on its construction. The first plantation took place in 1858 and the queen Amalia had sent the trees.
From the main entrance on the right and on the left sides there are marble gravestones and at the bottom dominates the tomb where the bones of the heroes are. In front there is the Lord’s Byron imposing statue. The Garden has tall palms, eucalyptus, pines and its alleys are popped with lawn and flowers.
Each year, on the Palm Sunday here ends up the parade and takes place the re- enactment of the Kapsalis blowing up.
Besides the busts and the statues of the Greek heroes as Marcos Botsaris, there are also monuments and votive offerings to Philhellenes from all over the world that fought on the side of the Greeks.
The Garden of the Heroes is a national memory symbol for the people of Messolonghi as well as for all Greek people.
In the Center of Messolonghi
From the Garden of Heroes we started to cross a section of the city center of Messolonghi and we reached to the Marcos Botsaris square in which the Town hall is located.
The town of Messolonghi is flat and is appropriate for cycling. We were surprised when we were informed that since the decade of ‘50 the bicycle has been the basic transportation mean for kids and older people. More than 40.000 bicycles go round in the city. And outside of schools one can see tens of bicycles one next to the other!
Our walk ended up to the Town Hall of the Sacred Town of Messolonghi. It is housed in a two-storey neoclassical building of 1932.
Here are exhibited manuscripts, objects, traditional costumes and great painter’s work such as “The Sacrifice of the Mother” of Emile De Lasank. This painting depicts the woman of Messolonghi whose husband has been killed by Turks and lying beside her. She holds in her lap her dead child. She herself killed the child in order to save it from the enemy. And now she is getting ready to turn the knife on her to end her life too. Elena Venizelos donated this painting to the Municipality of Messolonghi.
The ancient Plevrona is built high on the hill and probably took its name of the Aetolos’ son Plevrona. From here he had the control of the land, sea routes and the wealth-producing resources (salt pans and lagoon).
Here, the local producers were waiting for us daily to offer us fish-roe, smoked fish bites, oil and ouzo.
The view was amazing and although the wind was strong we enjoyed every moment of our stay.
Messolonghi and Lagoon
This lagoon! This is the most important sight of Messolonghi. It stretches huge and serene and allows the gaites (boats made especially for the shallow waters) to cross it and the flamingos and wild ducks to dive in its waters. But what I loved most was the plains and the fishermen’ wooden houses that are built on the water.
Our hosts had arranged to cross the lagoon with a small boat from the one side to the other so as to have the chance to get to know it better. And no matter how strong the wind was we were enchanted. The lagoon of Messolonghi has been characterized as Environmental Park. It is the biggest in Greece and is extended in 22.000 acres. Its depth is around half to one meter and in some spots is 5-6 meters. That’s why 270 species of birds find here shelter and food.
The lagoon of Messolonghi apart from wetland has healing properties too.
We disembarked in Tourlida and from there we headed to the restaurant “Radiomegaro” where we tasted kefalos grilled to cinders, smoked eel and fresh breams.
Activities in Messolonghi
The landscapes’ and sceneries’ changes in Messolonghi are unique and offer to the visitor the possibility of many and different activities. Some of them are hiking, climbing, cycling, kayak boating, rowing,and bird watching in the lagoon or traditional cooking courses. Whatever you choose there is no chance to get bored.
Messolonghi is about 3, 5 hours away from Athens and the members of Discover Messolonghi are the appropriate persons to give you a tour in sights and any kind of information you need.
Taking the chance I want to thank them for the wonderful tour in his city as well as Giorgos Apostolakos for the precious historical information he gave us.
Ιn YouTube you can see a video which I have uploaded about Messolonghi.