Kalamata (Καλαμάτα Kalamáta, formerly Καλάμαι Kalámai) is the second-largest city of the Peloponnese in southern Greece. The capital and chief port of the Messenia prefecture, it lies along the Nedon River at the head of the Messenian Gulf. Located near the ancient city of Pharai mentioned by Homer, it lies 238 km SW of Athens, about 60 km SE of Kyparissia and GR-9, about 120 km SSE of Pyrgos, about 80 km SW of Tripoli, about 60 km W of Sparta, NW of Areopoli and about 8 km E of Messene, it is also 215 km south of Patras and 715 (old: 750) km south of Thessaloniki. The 2001 census recorded 57,620 inhabitants.
Kalamata is renowned as the land of the Kalamatianos dance and the silk kerchief; of succulent dark olives, honey-eyed figs and the honey-covered sesame sweet called pasteli. The city can be reached other Greek cities by bus and train. Furthermore, the city has an international airport and an important harbour. Ferries are available to places such as the Greek island of Kythira.
The Messenian Gulf where Kalamata is located has various long beaches. The Taygetus is located about 4 km E of Kalamata and GR-82 Kalamata - Sparta highway runs through the ranges.
Kalamata has schools, lyceums, gymnasia, banks, a post office, and squares (plateia). The newly established University of Peloponnese has a campus in Kalamata, where the history, literature, religion and philosophy departments are located. The Kalamata campus of the university also provides free Greek lessons to expatriate Greeks.
Kalamata has been subjected to many trials and tribulations. It was under Frank occupation between 1205 and 1381, and within that period ruled by the French noble Villehardouin family (1210 to 1278) who built their castle there. Later occupied by the Turks from 1481 to 1685 like the rest of Greece, the city was next taken over by the Venetians in 1751. During the Venetian occupation the city was fortified, developed and thrived economically. However, the Turks reoccupied Kalamata in 1715 and controlled it until the Greek War of Independence of 1821 when Petrobeis Mavromihalis salvaged and liberated the city. Kalamata was again in the news and headlines on Thursday, February 13, 1986 as an earthquake measured at almost strong, 6.6 on the Richter scale. Damages were rarely reported but it caused panic to the region.
Today, Kalamata has the second largest population and mercantile activity in Peloponnese. It makes important exports, particularly of local products such as raisins, olives and olive oil. Although the city experienced catastrophic consequences after the earthquake of 1986, it has overall recovered its pace and is forging ahead successfully from a commercial aspect.
There are numerous historical and cultural sights to see in Kalamata, such as the Villehardouin castle, the Ipapandis Byzantine church, the Kalograion monastery with its famous silk-weaving workshop where the beautiful Kalamata scarves are made, and the municipal railway park. Another great spot to visit is the church of Agion Apostolon where Mavromihalis declared the revolution. It’s also worth seeing the art collections housed at the Municipal Gallery, the Benaki Archaeological Museum and the Folk Art Museum.
It is accessed by GR-7/E55/E65 in the west and GR-82 runs through Kalamata and into the Taygetus. The nearest motorway is now 35 km N. From the mid-1980s until 2002, it was 85 km SW in Tripoli. There is a road connecting within the coastline of Kalamata which is not far from the gulf and runs in the southern part of Kalamata.
Kalamata is served by a metric gauge railway line of Hellenic Railways Organization. There is a passenger train station and a small freight yard in the city, as well as a rolling stock maintenance depot. There are mainline train services to Kyparissia, Pyrgos, Patras and Kiato and suburban services to Messini and the General Hospital. The line that connects Kalamata with Korinthos via Tripolis and Argos is currently out of order due to extensive reconstruction work. There is a bus link (KTEL) to Tripolis, Korinthos and Athens with frequent services.
Since the mid-80s there is a regular weekly cruise-boat route between Kalamata - Kythira - Chania (Crete). In the summer months charter flights fly direct to Kalamata International Airport from many European cities.
|Year||Communal population||Change||Municipal population||Change||Density|