Missolonghi

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Missolonghi
Μεσολόγγι
View of the west part of the town.
View of the west part of the town.
Seal of Missolonghi
Location
Missolonghi is located in Greece
Missolonghi
Missolonghi
Coordinates 38°23′N 21°26′E / 38.383°N 21.433°E / 38.383; 21.433Coordinates: 38°23′N 21°26′E / 38.383°N 21.433°E / 38.383; 21.433
Government
Country: Greece
Administrative region: West Greece
Regional unit: Aetolia-Acarnania
Mayor: Panagiotis Katsoulis
Population statistics (as of 2011)[1]
Municipality
 - Population: 34,416
Municipal unit
 - Population: 18,482
 - Area: 280.2 km2 (108 sq mi)
 - Density: 66 /km2 (171 /sq mi)
Other
Time zone: EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)
Elevation (min-max): 0–9 m ­(0–30 ft)
Postal code: 302 00
Telephone: 26310
Auto: ΜΕ
Website
http://www.messolonghi.gr/

Missolonghi (Greek: Μεσολόγγι, Mesolongi) is a municipality of 34,416 people (according to the 2011 census)[1] in western Greece. The town is the capital of Aetolia-Acarnania regional unit, and the seat of the municipality of Iera Poli Messolongiou (Sacred City of Missolonghi). Missolonghi is known as the site of a dramatic siege during the Greek War of Independence, and of the death of poet Lord Byron.

Geography[edit]

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.

The Greek National Road 5/E55 (Ioannina - Patras) passes north of Missolonghi. The town had a railway station on the line to Agrinio but this has been abandoned since the 1970s.

Administration[edit]

The municipality Missolonghi (official name: Greek: Δήμος Ιεράς Πόλεως Μεσολογγίου) was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 3 former municipalities, that became municipal units:[2]

The municipal unit Missolonghi is subdivided into 8 communities:

  • Agios Georgios
  • Agios Thomas
  • Ano Koudouni
  • Ellinika
  • Evinochori
  • Missolonghi
  • Mousoura
  • Retsina

Province[edit]

The province of Missolonghi (Greek: Επαρχία Μεσολογγίου) was one of the provinces of the Aetolia-Acarnania Prefecture. Its territory corresponded with that of the current municipality Missolonghi (except part of the municipal unit Oiniades) and the municipal units Angelokastro, Arakynthos and Makryneia.[3] It was abolished in 2006.

History[edit]

Missolonghi 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, Missolonghi 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".

North-west of Missolonghi 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.

Greek War of Independence[edit]

Ibrahim attacks Missolonghi by Giuseppe Pietro Mazzola.
Lord Byron on his deathbed as depicted by Joseph-Denis Odevaere c.1826
Title page of Ellinika Chronika (1824), the first newspaper to appear in Greece, published in Missolonghi under the editorship of Swiss Philhellene Johann Jakob Meyer. Meyer was killed during the sortie.
The sortie of Missolonghi by Theodoros Vryzakis (1855).

During the Orlov Revolt in 1770 the fleet of Missolonghi was defeated and the town passed to the Ottomans. Missolonghi revolted on May 20, 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.[4] The second siege started on April 15, 1825[4] by Reşid 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 Missolonghi decided to leave the beleaguered city in the "Exodus of its Guards" (The Sortie) on the night of April 10, 1826. At the time, there were 10,500 people in Missolonghi, 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 Missolonghi 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 Missolonghi in 1824. He is commemorated by a cenotaph,[4] containing his heart,[5] and a statue located in the town.[4]

Modern era[edit]

The lagoon of the city

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 Missolonghi 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 Missolonghi, further boosting the city's cultural and artistic profile. The Missolonghi 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.

Media[edit]

  • Radiofonikos stathmos Mesolongiou,(radio Missolonghi 92FM),Website
  • Aixmi radio,Website
  • Aixmi TV, Website

Landmarks[edit]

View of the Garden of Heroes
Railway station.
  • Museum of the History and the Art of the Holy City of Missolonghi, Website
  • Centre of Culture and Art, Diexodos,Website
  • Christos and Sophia Mosxandreou Gallery of Modern Art
  • The Missolonghi Byron Society-International Research Center for Lord Byron and Philhellenism,Website

Notable people[edit]

The tomb of Markos Botsaris (copy by Georgios Bonanos; the original by David d'Angers is located in Athens).

Historical population[edit]

Avgotaracho (Botargo) of Missolonghi
Year City Municipal unit Municipality
1981 11,375 - -
1991 10,916 16,859 -
2001 13,791 17,988 -
2011 14,386 18,482 34,416

International relations[edit]

Twin towns — Sister cities[edit]

Missolonghi is twinned with:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Detailed census results 2011 (Greek)
  2. ^ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
  3. ^ Detailed census results 1991 PDF (39 MB) (Greek) (French)
  4. ^ a b c d e  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Missolonghi". Encyclopædia Britannica 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 607. 
  5. ^  "Missolonghi". Collier's New Encyclopedia. 1921. 

External links[edit]