View of the west part of the town
|Administrative region||West Greece|
|o Mayor||Nikos Karapanos|
|o Municipality||680.4 km2 (262.7 sq mi)|
|o Municipal unit||280.2 km2 (108.2 sq mi)|
|Elevation||5 m (16 ft)|
|Highest elevation||9 m (30 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|o Municipality density||51/km2 (130/sq mi)|
|o Municipal unit||18,482|
|o Municipal unit density||66/km2 (170/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
|Postal code||302 00|
Messolonghi (Greek: , pronounced [meso'loi]) is a municipality of 34,416 people (according to the 2011 census) in western Greece. The town is the capital of Aetolia-Acarnania regional unit, and the seat of the municipality of Iera Polis Messolongiou (Sacred City of Messolonghi). Messolonghi is known as the site of a dramatic siege during the Greek War of Independence, and of the death of poet Lord Byron.
The town is located between the Acheloos and the Evinos rivers and has a port on the Gulf of Patras. It trades in fish, wine, and tobacco. The Arakynthos mountains lie to the northeast. The town is almost canalized but houses are within the gulf and the swamplands. The Messolonghi-Etoliko Lagoons complex lies to the west. In the ancient times, the land was part of the gulf.
Summers are long, hot and humid, with temperatures often surpassing 40°C and remaining above 25°C even at night. Winters are short and mild with frequent rainfalls.
The local airport has a hard runway but no scheduled services.
The municipal unit Messolonghi is subdivided into 8 communities:
The municipality has an area of 680.372 km2, the municipal unit 280.168 km2.
The province of Messolonghi (Greek: ? ) was one of the provinces of the Aetolia-Acarnania Prefecture. Its territory corresponded with that of the current municipality Messolonghi (except part of the municipal unit Oiniades) and the municipal units Angelokastro, Arakynthos and Makryneia. It was abolished in 2006.
Messolonghi was first mentioned by a Venetian called Paruta when he was describing the naval Battle of Lepanto near Nafpaktos. According to predominant historical opinion, its name came from the combination of two Italian words, mezzo and laghi which means "in the middle of lakes" or messo and laghi (Messolaghi) which means "a place surrounded by lakes". Until 1700, Messolonghi was under Venetian domination. Its inhabitants were mostly fishermen. They lived in cabins which were made of a kind of waterproof straw and reed and stood on stilts above sea water. These cabins or stilt-houses have always been called "pelades". Messolonghi was part of Aetolia until the late-1820s when was Aetolia-Acarnania created.
North-west of Messolonghi are the remains of Pleuron ('Asfakovouni'), a town mentioned in Homer's works. It participated in the Trojan expedition and was destroyed in 234 BC by Demetrius II Aetolicus. The new town, which was built on the remains of old Pleuron, was one of the most important towns in Aitolia. Its monumental fortification comprised thirty towers and seven gates. The remains of the theatre and an enormous water tank with four compartments still exist.
During the Orlov Revolt in 1770 the fleet of Messolonghi was defeated and the town passed to the Ottomans. Messolonghi revolted on 20 May 1821 and was a major stronghold of the Greek rebels in the Greek War of Independence, being the seat of the Senate of Western Continental Greece. Its inhabitants successfully resisted a siege by Ottoman forces in 1822. The second siege started on 15 April 1825 by Re?id Mehmed Pasha whose army numbered 30,000 men and was later reinforced by another 10,000 men led by Ibrahim Pasha, son of Muhammad Ali Pasha of Egypt. After a year of relentless enemy attacks and facing starvation, the people of Messolonghi decided to leave the beleaguered city in the "Exodus of its Guards" (The Sortie) on the night of 10 April 1826. At the time, there were 10,500 people in Messolonghi, 3,500 of whom were armed. Very few people survived the Ottoman pincer movement after the betrayal of their plan.
Due to the heroic stance of the population and the subsequent massacre of its inhabitants by the Turkish-Egyptian forces, the town of Messolonghi received the honorary title of Hiera Polis (the Sacred City), unique among other Greek cities. The famous British poet and philhellene Lord Byron, who supported the Greek struggle for independence, died in Messolonghi in 1824. He is commemorated by a cenotaph, containing his heart, and a statue located in the town.
The town itself is very picturesque but also modern with functional, regular urban planning. Some very interesting buildings representative of traditional architecture can be seen here. People whose names were related to modern Greek history once lived in some of them. The mansion of the Trikoupis family, Palamas' House, Valvios Library, Christos and Sophia Moschandreou Gallery of Modern Art emphasize the fact that Messolonghi has always been a city of some wealth and refinement. In addition, the Centre of Culture and Art, Diexodos, which hosts cultural events and exhibitions as well as the Museum of History and Art is housed in a neo-classical building in Markos Botsaris Square and hosts a collection of paintings indicative of the struggle of Messolonghi, further boosting the city's cultural and artistic profile. The Messolonghi Byron Society also, founded in 1991 in the city, is a non profit organisation which is devoted to promoting scholarly and general understanding of Lord Byron's life and poetry as well as cultivating appreciation for other historical figures in the 19th-century international Philhellenic movement, idealists who, like Byron, gave their fortunes, talents, and lives for the cause of Greek War of Independence. The Messolonghi Byron Center is now located in the upper floor of Byron House.
Today, the Entrance Gate remains intact and so does part of the fortification of the Free Besieged which was rebuilt by King Otto. Past the gate, there is the Garden of Heroes where several famous and some anonymous heroes who fought during the Heroic Sortie are buried. The Garden of Heroes is the equivalent of the Elysian Fields for modern Greece. Every year the Memorial Day for the Exodus is celebrated on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter); the Greek State is represented by high-ranking officials and foreign countries by their ambassadors.
Messolonghi is twinned with: