Kalamata, formerly Kalama or, during the time of Homer, Fares is a city in the southwestern Peloponnese, capital of the Prefecture of Messinia and a port of southern mainland Greece. Kalamata has a population of 54,100 inhabitants, while the Municipality of Kalamata has a population of 69,849 inhabitants, according to the 2011 Census. The city is built at the foot of Mount Kalathi (edge of Taygetos), in the heart of the Messinian Gulf. It is 223 km from Athens, 215 km from Patras and 715 km from Thessaloniki. It has a temperate Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers. Every day in the wider urban center of Kalamata come and work more than 50,000 people [pending referral] from the neighboring cities of Messina, Thuria, Meligala, Ari etc.
The history of Kalamata begins with Homer, who mentions Fares, an ancient city built around where the Frankish castle of the city is located today. In the past, it was considered that, in ancient times, the sea covered the entire area of today's city, but the findings of the Early Helladic and Archaic (Holy Poseidon) period in the "Akovitika" and classical, Hellenistic and Roman times around the castle confirmed the opposite. Also, inscription material found in Giannitsa (Eleochori) confirmed the identification of the ancient village of Kalama (and not Fara) with that place.
Kalamata (Farai) has limited importance during the ancient period, as it is under Laconian rule from the middle of the 8th century BC. until the middle of the 4th century BC. Even after the liberation of Messinia by the Thebans under Epameinondas, the Fares are overshadowed, this time by the new capital of Messinia, Messina (in present-day Mavrommati). The emperor Octavian Augustus even brought the city of Faros under the jurisdiction of the Laconians, although immediately after Tiberius restored it to the Messinians.
The traveler Pausanias in his Messinian-Solar (160-170 AD) mentions Fares, on his way from southern Laconia to Messina. He even mentions that earlier he met a source of "salt water", most likely the brackish spring that even today flows into the sea, in the old watermill in the suburb of Mikri Mantineia. In Fares, he visited the temples of Tychi and "Karneio" Apollo with his grove. Even in the early Christian years, however, the importance of the settlement is still small for the history of the area, compared to e.g. with neighboring Thuria where archaeological finds are much more important. However, in the list of cities Synecdemus of Hierocles (535 AD) the ancient name Farai was still preserved.
The available data on the history of the city during the mid-Byzantine period and up to the 10th century AD. are minimal. It is probable that, within the framework of the unified imperial defense policy against the invasions of the Avaroslavs in the Balkans, it was transformed into a fortress by strengthening its population from endangered settlements, as did Koroni at the same time (6th-7th century).
Kalamata probably got its modern name from an old Byzantine monastery (probably in the place of the castle), which was dedicated to Panagia Kalomata, from where the name Kalamata came from the assimilation of the micron into alpha.
It gained glory after the Fourth Crusade (1204 AD), when the castle fell, after capitulation, into the hands of the Franks under William Samplitis and then Geoffrey I Villehardouin in 1205. The latter rebuilt the then small and a ruined castle and thus begins the economic prosperity of the city. Kalamata was the favorite city of the Villehardouins, to the point that William Villehardouin is also called "Kalamata".
In 1293, the castle was occupied by the Greek and Slavic revolutionaries of Giannitsa (now Eleochori), led by Lianorti, Fanari and Lavoulka, in the name of Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos. However, it was returned to the Franks by fraud, by the Commander of Mystras, Georgios Sgouromallis (a description of this episode can be found in the well-known novel by Angelos Terzakis, Princess Izambo). In 1341, the castle is in the hands of Niccol Α Atsagioli and in 1381 under the Navarre knights of Peter de San Superan. In 1396 it was occupied for a while by the Turks of General Evrenos. From 1410 to 1459 it belongs to the Palaeologans of Mystras.
In 1459 Kalamata is occupied by the Ottoman Turks of Mohammed II the Conqueror. In 1464, the castle was occupied by the Venetian Francisco Tano, but in 1540 it was abandoned by the Venetians who burned it. It was finally destroyed in 1685 by the Venetian general Morosini, when he captured it during his victorious campaign in the Peloponnese. It was finally returned to the Ottomans in 1715.
Revolution 1821 and Liberation
The most important event in the long history of the city is its liberation by the Turks on March 23, 1821. On that day Kolokotronis, Nikitaras, Petrobeis Mavromichalis, Papaflessas and others entered the city as liberators. They participated in the solemn doxology that was performed in the Holy Temple of the Holy Apostles (a small Byzantine church of the middle of the 11th-12th century that survives to this day and is a symbol of the city).
The revolutionary flag is blessed in Agios Apostolos and from
here the revolution in the southern Peloponnese begins. From
Kalamata, the Messinian Senate writes two important texts, the
"Warning to the European Courts" and the "Proclamation" addressed to
At the end of the 19th century, the port of Kalamata was built, which still operates today and the city shows significant growth and prosperity. It was characterized as "Marseilles of Moria". The city comes in contact with the west and its culture, a bourgeoisie is created that forms an important cultural base and heritage. From 1920 onwards, however, a long period of economic recession began.
Settlement of Asia Minor
After the Asia Minor Catastrophe, many families from Asia Minor settled in Kalamata. Specifically, the West Beach of the city was a place of settlement for about four thousand Asians. For the preservation of the memory, in the courtyard of the Holy Temple of the Ascension, in the West Beach of Kalamata, a Monument of Asia Minor has been installed, consisting of two large pieces of marble, and in one the refugees are depicted, while in the other the map of Asia Minor with Greek names of dozens of its cities.
In September 1986, Kalamata was hit by two strong earthquakes, causing extensive damage and 22 casualties. Nevertheless, the city was quickly rebuilt by this great disaster.
The city today
Kalamata, a city of 54,100 inhabitants, is the second most populous city in the Peloponnese after Patras. It is an important urban, economic and commercial center of the region, as well as an administrative center of the Prefecture of Messinia. Every day in the wider urban center of Kalamata come and work more than 50,000 people from the neighboring cities such as Asprochoma, Messina, Thouria, Meligala, Ari, Sperchogeia etc.
The tourist season for Kalamata lasts almost all year round. It is a very popular destination for every weekend due to its short distance from Athens and the many attractions it has (metropolitan church of Ypapantis the Savior, church of Agios Apostolos, Old Town, Castle, Archaeological Museum, Ballroom, open-air railway museum, etc. ). It has an intense night life in winter and summer, in winter in various boxes and bars in the historic center, while in summer in clubs and beach bars by the sea and in the suburbs of Verga built at the foot of Mount "Basket" where there are wonderful bars and clubs overlooking the sea and the city of Kalamata. Also, every July, the international Dance Festival takes place in the city of Kalamata, with performances and dancers from all over the world.
In Kalamata there are schools of the University of Peloponnese, which was significantly expanded after the integration of the TEI. The city has complete and modern sports facilities, where anyone can play sports. Finally, it has a new, modern hospital as well as an international airport.