Proti is an island in the Ionian Sea, situated approximately one nautical mile from the shores of Marathopoli. It covers an area of three square kilometres. In view of the fact that próti means first, there are reasonable grounds for believing that the Island owes its name to the fact that it is the first piece of land visible from the open sea on the Messenian coastline. In Antiquity, its name was Plotè. Moreover, against the backdrop of the Morea Expedition in 1828 by the French General Maison, Proti was termed Prodano and Prode.
The memory of Ancient Proti is preserved by the Athenian historian Thucydides, whose History of the Peloponnesian War recounts how in 425 B.C., as the Athenian fleet sailed from Zante (Zakynthos) to provide help to General Demosthenes who was trapped in Pylos, the armada made a stop at Proti. To this day, Proti Island boasts citadel ruins, with a circular turret wall, all part of an ancient acropolis dated among the Mycenaean and Preclassical Periods.
In accordance with local lore, Proti provided refuge for boatmen from days of old but was also used as a base for pirates – Saracen freebooters who hid their treasures there. On Proti’s Eastern coast, in the small Bay of Grammeno (which loosely translates to written), tens of inscriptions carved directly into the rock face express wishes for a fair journeys and prayers to sea deities. Opposite to Grammeno, on the other side of the Island stands the deep, steep Strait of Katoulias. Legend has it that privateer Katoulias, who hailed from the infamous region of Mani known for its blood feuds, used it as a springboard for robbing transiting ships.
The Island’s shape reminds onlookers of a half-submerged lizard, a natural breakwater for the raging waves from Africa. Proti features a beautiful beach with crystal clear turquoise waters – Vourlia. At the entrance of Vourlia Cove one can admire a sunken ship dating back to World War II. North of Vourlia Beach stands Gorgopege Assumption Monastery, where the “Virgin Mary of Quickwater” is celebrated on August 15th, 23rd, and on September 24th each year.
However uninhabited, it is possible to visit Proti Island during the summer months thanks to daily boat departures from the Port of Marathopoli for exploring the Island and swimming in gorgeous Vourlia Cove.