Messene, an expansive, pleasant, park-like archaeological site in the Southwestern Peloponnese, was one of ancient Greece’s greatest Classical, Hellenistic and Roman cities.

During their approach to the site, generations of visitors have first encountered Messene’s imposing city walls, towers and circular Arcadian Gate, with this huge fallen lintel. Today, the small archaeological museum is also not to be missed, with its splendid examples of statues that once adorned Messene’s buildings and streets. Further downhill, the theater (3rd century BC) is notable for its multi-phased scene building (skene). The earliest skene was apparently wooden and moveble, as stone-cut tracks for wheels are visible at its eastern end. Especially striking are the re-erected columns of the Gymnasium/Stadium area and a finely restored mausoleum, resembling a small, prostyle Doric temple, which served as a funerary monument for the prominent Saithidae family (1st century BC).

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