Kalamata

Kalamata

Kalamata

Kalamata is the second most populous city of the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece and the largest city of the homonymous administrative region. The capital and chief port of the Messenia regional unit, it lies along the Nedon River at the head of the Messenian Gulf.

The 2011 census recorded 69,849 inhabitants for the wider Kalamata Municipality, of which 62,409 in the municipal unit of Kalamata proper. Kalamata is renowned as the land of the Kalamatianos dance and of the Kalamata olives.

The history of Kalamata begins with Homer, who mentions Pharai, an ancient city built more or less where the Kalamata Castle stands today. It was believed that during ancient times the area that the city presently occupies was covered by the sea, but the proto-Greek and archaic period remains (Poseidon temple) that were unearthed at Akovitika region prove the opposite.

Pharai was rather unimportant in Antiquity, and the site continued in obscurity until middle Byzantine times. Kalamata is first mentioned in the 10th-century Life of St. Nikon the Metanoeite, and experienced a period of prosperity in the 11th–12th centuries, as attested by the five surviving churches built in this period, including the Church of the Holy Apostles, as well as the comments of the Arab geographer al-Idrisi, who calls it a "large and populous" town.

Following the Fourth Crusade, Kalamata was conquered by Frankish Crusaders under William of Champlitte and Geoffrey of Villehardouin in 1205, when its Byzantine fortress was apparently in so bad a state that it could not be defended against them. Thus the town became part of the new Principality of Achaea, and after Champlitte granted its possession to Geoffrey of Villehardouin, the town was the heart of the Villehardouins' patrimony in the Principality; Prince William II of Villehardouin was born and died there.After William II's death in 1278, Kalamata remained in the hands of his widow, Anna Komnene Doukaina, but when she remarried to Nicholas II of Saint Omer, King Charles of Anjou was loath to see this important castle in the hands of a vassal, and in 1282 Anna exchanged it with lands elsewhere in Messenia.

In 1292 or 1293, two local Slavic magnates managed to capture the fortress of Kalamata by a ruse and, aided by 600 of their fellow villagers, took over the entire lower town as well in the name of the Byzantine emperor, Andronikos II Palaiologos. Constable John Chauderon in vain tried to secure their surrender, and was sent to Constantinople, where Andronikos agreed to hand the town over, but then immediately ordered his governor in Mystras not to do so. In the event, the town was recovered by the Franks through the intercession of a local Greek, a certain Sgouromalles.In 1298, the town formed the dowry of Princess Matilda of Hainaut upon her marriage to Guy II de la Roche. Matilda retained Kalamata as her fief until 1322, when she was dispossessed and the territory reverted to the princely domain. In 1358, Prince Robert gifted the châtellenie of Kalamata (comprising also Port-de-Jonc and Mani) to his wife, Marie de Bourbon, who kept it until her death in 1377.The town remained one of the largest in the Morea—a 1391 document places it, with 300 hearths, on par with Glarentza—but it nevertheless declined in importance throughout the 14th and 15th centuries in favour of other nearby sites like Androusa. Kalamata remained in Frankish hands until near the end of the Principality of Achaea, coming under the control of the Byzantine Despotate of the Morea only in 1428.

Kalamata’s cathedral of the Ypapandi (Presentation of the Lord to the Temple) nestles beneath the 14th-century Frankish castle. The foundation stone was laid on January 25, 1860, and the building was consecrated on August 19, 1873. It suffered great damage during the 1986 earthquake, but was subsequently restored. The Festival of the Ypapandi (27 January - 09.02) is of national importance for the Greek Orthodox world and, locally, the occasion for a holiday (02.02). The litany of the miraculous icon was first introduced in 1889 and takes place every year on February 2, no matter the weather.

In late January 2010 the city hosted the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the cathedral. He was offered the golden key of the city. The region around Kalamata has provided two Ecumenical patriarchs in the past.

Kalamata has a Mediterranean Climate (Csa) with mild, and wet winters and dry, hot summers. Kalamata receives plenty of precipitation days in winter. Summers are very hot and dry. The maximum temperature ever recorded at Kalamata is 45,6 °C and the minimum ever recorded is -5 °C.

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