Most of the area of Ancient Messene contains the ruins of the large classical city-state of Messene refounded by Epaminondas in 369 BC, after the battle of Leuctra and the first Theban invasion of the Peloponnese. Epaminondas invited the return to their native land of all the families that had gone into exile from Messenia during its long struggle with and servitude under the military state of Sparta, now finished as a conquering state. This new Messene, today's Ancient Messene, was constructed over the ruins of Ithome, an ancient city originally of Achaean Greeks, destroyed previously by the Spartans and abandoned for some time.
This is one of the most impressive and least visited sites in Greece because of its physical isolation. Its only access from the Sparta direction is by tiny one lane roads over the mountains that surround it. It was built after the Spartans were defeated and ceased their domination of the Peloponnese. It flourished in to the Roman age.
The difference with this site is that so much is standing ( some due to restoration) and when I reached the little village of Mavromarti and parked above the site, there it was laid out before me. It was like standing on a balcony to history 2300 years ago. The site is huge but I trudged every inch of it. A fascinating stadium, evocative mausoleum, an asclepion (hospital), theatre and temples and stoas and agoras.
Visitor's review on Trip Advisor