Methoni, Messenia – Greece.
Methoni has been identified as the city Pedasus, that Homer mentions under the name "ampeloessa" (of vine leaves). It was offered by Agamemnon to Achilles in order to subdue his rage during the Trojan War. Along with the rest of Messenia, the town gained its independence from the Spartans in 369 BC. During the 4th century BC, Methoni was elaborately fortified and continued to remain autonomous well into the Imperial Roman era, when it enjoyed the favor of some emperors. During the Byzantine years it continued to remain a remarkable harbor and one of the most important cities of Greece.
The castle of Methoni was build by the Venetians in 1209 AD on a rock extending into the sea, separated from the mainland by an artificial moat. It has an area of 93 acres. The castle walls are reinforced with towers at intervals. South of the castle, built on a small rocky island there’s a fortified tower named Bourtzi. It’s connected to the main fortress with an arch bridge. On the east side of the castle there’s a small jetty that is part of the small port of Methoni. The walls, towers, bastions, northwestern artillery platform and the various gates of the castle have been dated thanks to the identification of the Venetian coat of arms that are still in their respective places.
The Venetians fortified Methoni, which developed into an important trade center with great prosperity. Methoni became the important middle station between Europe and the Holy Lands, where every traveller stopped on their way to the East. A pilgrim who went by in 1484 admired its strong walls, the deep moats and the fortified towers.
The Ottoman Turks wanted to conquer Methoni. In the 1490s, Sultan Bayezid II gathered his forces against Methoni. Bayezid, despite the hard siege, would not have been able to capture it if the inhabitants, thrilled by the arrival of reinforcements, hadn't deserted the walls, a fact that the janissaries took advantage of, invading the fortress from the governor's palace. On the August 9, 1500, Methoni fell, after having been in the hands of the Venetians for about 300 years. The city was given to the flames, the Catholic bishop was killed while talking to the people, the men were decapitated, the women and children were sold to slavery. The walls were repaired and the period of the Turkish rule began.
In February 1825, during the Greek Revolution, Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt landed at Methoni and settled in the commander's residence, over the entrance of the castle. In 1829, the French general Maison, freed the town together with others in the Peloponnese.
[ Fujifilm FinePix HS10 ]
© 2013 Jordan Kevrekidis