The Walls of Messene

Messene was founded in the early 360s BC, after the Messenians had been liberated from Spartan control. The city boasts some of the most impressive ancient fortifications in mainland Greece.

Not all fortifications built in this period were as magnificent. For example, the walls of Mantinea, rebuilt (after destruction in 385 BC), were mudbrick walls on a stone base, and this seems to be the kind of wall Aeneas mostly has in mind. E.g. Aeneas Tacticus 32.7 and probably also 23.4.

Messene represents the state of the art in Greek fortifications in the mid-fourth century.

Wall by the Arcadian gate (in the NW of the city); tombs in the foreground.

Wall by the Arcadian gate, on the slope of Mt. Ithome.

Approaching the Arcadian gate.

Arcadian gate: inside

Stretch on the south-west side of the city. square and semicircular towers.

Perspective from a tower. Note the massive stone construction and the large stone blocks (both rather exceptional).


created 14/02/2010 - updated 15/02/2010