In Western Greece, where the two rivers of Acheloos and Evinos meet the sea and form a wetland avian paradise, lies historic Messolonghi. It is a magical place which speaks volumes of history and culture and makes an ideal excursion destination for those seeking plenty of enthralling sights and experiences.
“My eyes never saw a more glorious place…”
Some of the most momentous events of the 1821 Revolution against the Ottoman occupation occurred in Messolonghi. Against nearly impossible odds and under appalling conditions, the people of the town survived for years, perpetually under siege by the Ottomans, until their final bold but tragic exodus turned the tide of European public opinion firmly in favor of the Greeks. Known as `the Great Sacrifice,' it was one of the greatest historical events to transpire in Messolonghi. Attempting to break the siege, a few citizens stayed behind whilst the vast majority of Messolonghi citizens and soldiers fled the city through The Gate of the Exodus and the walls of the city. By doing so, the survivors of the exodus lived to fight on in subsequent battles of the Greek War of Independence and the martyrs, including the famed British poet Lord Byron, ignited widespread support in Europe of the Hellenic cause for Hellenic freedom. The lush Garden of Heroes is strewn with monuments, amongst which is the Tomb of the Heroes, as well as the memorials erected to honour Markos Botsaris, Lord Byron, and other freedom fighters. Every year, Palm Sunday is marked as a day of remembrance. Outside the city center, travellers can visit the little chapel of St. Paraskevi, where the decision was taken to confront the Ottomans before those plans were betrayed. Being in the presence of the hallowed walls of St. Paraskevi can be a very moving experience.
Culture in Full Force
Visit the Museum of History and Art, where you can admire a rich collection of original paintings, copies, and prints with scenes of the Great Exodus of Messolonghi. On your city tour, you will also see the Gallery of Modern Art and the stately homes of the Greek national poet Kostis Palamas and the noted Trikoupis family which now serve as museums.
“Enchantment is nature and a dream in beauty and in grace…”
The National Park of Messolonghi-Aitoliko includes the lagoons of Messolonghi, Aitoliko, and others, including the one-of-a-kind Forest of Fraxos, with its many picturesque terrains that stretch out from the river banks. Truly a place of rare natural beauty, it is one of the most important wetland habitats in the Mediterranean. Take a tour there and the sights and sounds will live with you forever.
Indulge in the unique pleasure of canoeing/kayaking on the lagoons, observe or photograph flamingos and herons, follow the hiking and mountain-climbing trails of Arakynthos and Varasova. Whatever you chose to do, you'll find your senses constantly assailed by fragrant natural scents and stupendous colors.
Relax on the banks of the lagoon with a fishing rod and reel or go for a swim off the shore of Tourlida, a beautiful beach on the islet of the same name, where the open sea meets the lagoon, or at Louros and Dioni, beaches which also form a vital part of the famous ecosystem of the region.
Try traditional recipes with eel, salt fish, and unique shrimp. Do not miss the opportunity to taste avgotaraho, the `Greek caviar', one of the finest Greek gastronomic products. Stock up on delicious local pulses, rice, olives, and cheeses and, of course, ouzo and tsipouro.
Afloat with Charm in Aitoliko
On a small island in the middle of the lagoon, connected to the mainland by two lovingly preserved stone-built arched bridges, lies the `town on the water,' Aitoliko. Walk along the picturesque cobblestone alleys next to gardens in full bloom and visit the historic Church of Kimiseos tis Theotokou and Taxiarchon, and the Engraving Centre and Museum of Vaso Katraki. The harmony and beauty of the place imparts an instant feeling of tranquility.
From Aitoliko, visit the ancient town of Oiniades with its distinctive docks and ancient theatre.
Historic, heroic and heavenly. Make your own mark on magnificent Messolonghi