Verdant rolling hills, rugged mountains and gently sloping valleys. Pristine coastlines - the fourth longest in Greece-, secluded bays and endless sandy beaches. Meandering rivers, crystalline lagoons, hidden waterfalls, deep gorges and unexplored islets. Sweeping vistas and stunning panoramas. Lush olive groves and vineyards. And a wealth of flora and fauna. A total of seven different areas have been designated EU Natura sites.
Messinia harbors a colorful mosaic of rich and diverse flora, including Greek Firs and Black Pine trees in the woodlands of Mount Taygetos, Aleppo Pine trees in the coastal forests around the Nedas estuary, as well as Mediterranean maquis, irises, orchids, Juniper trees and Posidonia sea grass. The highest mountain of the Peloponnese (2,407 m) hosts 138 endemic plant species on the western slopes alone. Home to 42.6% of endemic plants in the Peloponnese, Mount Taygetos is a veritable paradise for botanists and Eco-tourists alike.
Thanks to its unique geographic location, Messinia is one of the first places in continental Greece (and mainland Europe in general) where migratory birds stopover in the spring. There are some sparsely inhabited places, which host significant populations of songbirds, raptors and sea fowl. The Mount Taygetos ridge is a haven for a variety of bird species. The upland forests and alpine areas, as well as the gorges on the lower parts close to Messinian Mani, are among the richest habitats for raptors and forest species (such as woodpeckers). The outstanding natural heritage of Messinia includes also the second most important Mediterranean habitat of the Caretta caretta sea turtle in the Gulf of Kyparissia, the Mediterranean seal and the Bottlenose dolphin around the Inousses islets near Methoni.
A key stopover in the flyway of migratory birds, Gialova lagoon, Greece's southernmost major wetland, has been declared an Important Bird Area (IBA), providing shelter to 271 of the 442 recorded bird species in Greece and supporting a mosaic of habitats. It is the only refuge in Europe of the African chameleon, a unique species of reptile that changes skin color depending on its mood and surroundings. This magnificent lagoon, surrounded by the natural bay of Voidokilia and featuring a significant sand-dune ecosystem is also an archaeological site, making it one of the best known ecotourism destinations in Messinia.
TEMES supports conservation activities and research in the area and contributes to environmental education programs and eco initiatives.
The bird calls you can hear on this website have all been recorded from species living or stopping over in Gialova lagoon and throughout Messinia!
Important habitats for conservation are present in many areas of Messinia: the coniferous forests of Greek Fir and Black Pine trees on Mount Taygetos, the Mediterranean Strawberry tree forest on Sapientza Island, the sand-dune ecosystem in the Gulf of Kyparissia, the caves in the Nedas gorge, and Gialova lagoon, the biggest wetland of Messinia.
Villages of Messinia
Messinia is dotted with quaint villages of traditional stone houses, steeped in history and lore where Greek hospitality, unaltered through the centuries, is wholeheartedly offered all year round, especially by local establishments such as welcoming cafes and old-time tavernas.
All photos and information of this section are provided by the Costa Navarino Center of Development and Culture.