Kalamata

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The history of Kalamata begins with Homer, who mentions Pharai, an ancient city built more or less where the Kalamata Castle stands today. It was believed that during ancient times the area that the city presently occupies was covered by the sea, but the proto-Greek and archaic period remains (Poseidon temple) that were unearthed at Akovitika region prove the opposite.

Pherai was rather unimportant in Antiquity, and the site continued in obscurity until middle Byzantine times. Kalamata is first mentioned in the 10th-century Life of St. Nikon the Metanoeite, and experienced a period of prosperity in the 11th–12th centuries, as attested by the five surviving churches built in this period, including the Church of the Holy Apostles, as well as the comments of the Arab geographer al-Idrisi, who calls it a "large and populous" town.

Following the Fourth Crusade, Kalamata was conquered by Frankish Crusaders under William of Champlitte and Geoffrey of Villehardouin, in 1205, when its Byzantine fortress was apparently in so bad a state that it could not be defended. Thus the town became part of the Principality of Achaea, and after Champlitte granted its possession to Geoffrey of Villehardouin, the town was the heart of the Villehardouins' patrimony in the Principality; Prince William II of Villehardouin was born and died there. After William II's death in 1278, Kalamata remained in the hands of his widow, Anna Komnene Doukaina, but when she remarried to Nicholas II of Saint Omer, King Charles of Anjou was loath to see this important castle in the hands of a vassal, and in 1282 Anna exchanged it with lands elsewhere in Messenia.

The town was attacked and sacked in 1293 and 1295 by Slavs from the neighbouring mountains, but in 1298 it formed the dowry of Princess Matilda of Hainaut upon her marriage to Guy II de la Roche. Matilda retained Kalamata as her fief until 1322, when she was dispossessed and the territory reverted to the princely domain. In 1358, Prince Robert gifted the châtellenie of Kalamata (comprising also Port-de-Jonc and Mani) to his wife, Marie de Bourbon, who kept it until her death in 1377. The town remained one of the largest in the Morea—a 1391 document places it, with 300 hearths, on par with Glarentza—but it nevertheless declined in importance throughout the 14th and 15th centuries in favour of other nearby sites like Androusa. Kalamata remained in Frankish hands until near the end of the Principality of Achaea, coming under the control of the Byzantine Despotate of the Morea only in 1428.

Kalamata was occupied by the Ottomans from 1481 to 1685, like the rest of Greece. In 1659, during the long war between Ottomans and Venetians over Crete, the Venetian commander Francesco Morosini, came into contact with the rebellious Maniots, for a joint campaign in the Morea, in the course of which he took Kalamata. He was soon after forced to return to Crete, but the Venetians returned in the Morean War.

The Venetian Republic ruled Klamata from 1685 as part of the "Kingdom of the Morea" (Italian: Regno di Morea). During the Venetian occupation the city was fortified, developed and thrived economically. However, the Ottomans reoccupied Kalamata in the war of 1715 and controlled it until the Greek War of Independence.

There are numerous historical and cultural sights in Kalamata, such as the Villehardouin castle, the Ypapandi Byzantine church, the Kalograion monastery with its silk-weaving workshop where the Kalamata scarves are made, and the municipal railway park. The Church of the Holy Apostles is where Mavromichalis declared the revolt against Ottoman rule in 1821. Art collections are housed at the Municipal Gallery, the Archaeological Museum of Messenia and the Folk Art Museum.

Benakeion Archaeological Museum of Kalamata, located in the heart of the historical centre of Kalamata.
Cultural events, such as the Kalamata International Dance Festival
Kalamata Castle from the 13th century AD.
The Marina and the Port of Kalamata, located SW of the city centre. It is the main and largest port in Messenia and the southern part of the Peloponnese.
Kalamata National Stadium – home of Messiniakos, it contains 5,000 spectators
The Railway Museum of the Municipality of Kalamata, a railway museum which first opened since 1986
Ancient Messene, some 15 to 20 km (12 mi) north-west of modern Messini
The Temple of Apollo Epicurius, about two hour's drive north from Kalamata.

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