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Ancient Messene to get upgraded visitors' facilities, following approval by Council

Featured Ancient Messene to get upgraded visitors' facilities, following approval by Council

The Central Archaeological Council approved improvements to serving visitors at the key archaeological site of Ancient Messene in SW Peloponnese, it was announced on Monday. 

The refurbishing projects at the north and south entrances of the site will be ready for visitors by the end of 2025.
Ancient Messene was dug by the late archaeologist Petros Themelis, who was concerned about making the site available to the public while sustaining it environmentally, a vision the new approved plans conform to. Its ancient theater, like that of Epidaurus, is open every summer for theater shows and musical performances, attracting several visitors and playing a significant role in local development and tourism in the Peloponnese in general.

As Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement related to the approval of the plans, the government's priorities lie in constant upgrading of services to the visitors at archaeological sites and museums, and to making these readily accessible. In Ancient Messene, she said, "our goal is that interventions, landscaping, and constructions are as mild as possible - that they do not create an optical, aesthetic, or any other problem for the monuments, but promote their functional nature, and support their recognition and overall highlight the archaeological site."

The Antiquities Ephorate of Messenia has conducted salvage excavations in 2023, she explained, to identify remains where the entrances (north and south) will be replanned. What was found related possibly to Late Classical-Early Hellenistic eras, and, based on the features of the Hippodamian urban layout of the site, possibly belong to a cluster of private homes.

Changes approved in the northern entrance area will shut down the old ticketing area and the parking space, which came up to the entrance of the ancient site. The former will be moved elsewhere, facilitating visitors' movements, while the latter will be replanned near the new archaeological museum, whose design is still in the works.

Access will be improved with ramps, while several trees will be planted to provide more shade, and no trees removed from those now standing. The new visitors' store will provide a view of the site, while bathrooms, a health space, and a storage area will be partly below ground. An elevator will provide access of the cafe to physically impaired visitors.
In the southern entrance, a building of 98 square meters will be built partly below ground and serve personnel of the site, while a semi-open corridor will lead to a staircase to the site.