Kalamata 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 Messinian Gulf. Located near the ancient city of Pharai mentioned by Homer, it lies 238 km (148 mi) southwest of Athens. The 2001 census recorded 57,620 inhabitants, but it is a busy city and on a regular daily basis there are more than 85,000 people working and circulating in it. The city can be reached from 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 islands of Kythira, and Crete.
The Messenian Gulf where Kalamata is located has various long beaches. The Taygetus mountain range is located about 4 km (2.5 mi) east of Kalamata and GR-82 Kalamata – Sparta highway runs through the ranges.
Olives and olive oil are important and famous products that are exported from Kalamata.
Unlike many other Greek cities, Kalamata does not date to classical times. However, Messene, located some 25 km (16 mi) north-west of Kalamata and about 15 to 20 km (12 mi) from modern Messini, is an important ancient site. From 1681 on the Venetians ruled Kalamata. On 23 March 1821, Kalamata was the first city to be liberated from the Ottoman occupation of over 300 years, by the Greek revolutionary forces under the command of generals Theodoros Kolokotronis, Petros Mavromichalis and Papaflessas. In 1825, Ibrahim Pasha destroyed the city during the Greek war of independence. After this, Kalamata was rebuilt and became one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean sea. It is not surprising that the second-oldest Chamber of Commerce in the Mediterranean, after that of Marseille, exists in Kalamata.
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 in Kalamata, such as the Villehardouin castle, the Ypapandis Byzantine church, the Kalograion monastery with its silk-weaving workshop where the Kalamata scarves are made, and the municipal railway park. Mavromihalis declared the revolution in the church of Agion Apostolon. Art collections are housed at the Municipal Gallery, the Archaeological Museum of Messenia and the Folk Art Museum.