Petalidi is situated 13 kilometers to the southwest of Messini and 18 kilometers from Kalamata. It is a seaside tourist town which combines the mountain, the sea and the plain. Most likely, Petalidi took its name from the “horseshoe” shape of its coastline. At the main square the visitor will find several cafes and restaurants and it is worth taking a walk to the small, picturesque port. If you happen to be in Petalidi in September, do not miss the opportunity of going to the local festival which is organized annually on the 13th and the 14th.
Petalidi has many special monuments to visit and the history of the creation of the town is also interesting. In 1828, the French general Maison disembarked at Petalidi Bay, in order to ward all of Ibrahim’s Egyptian soldiers off the Peloponnese. In August 1830, by decision of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the settlement of the people of Mani to Petalidi, started taking place after the establishment of the new Greek state. That was done in order Kapodistrias to thank the people of Mani by offering them public land. That is the reason why, today, we come across so many names of Mani origin, such as Troupakis, Kourakos, Stefanakos etc. The proper erection of the town began in 1835, based on the sketches of the Bavarian engineers Colman and Strauss. By 1836, more than 200 families had settled down and about 120 houses were built. Interesting is the fact that the newspapers of the time were so busy writing about the establishment of the colony of Petalidi by the people of Mani, that both Otto and Amalia visited the town in 1838, out of great interest.
In Petalidi the visitor may see the “Liar’s Fountain”, (“Vrisi tou Psefti”), on the beach, the Outdoor Archaeological Collection, (with findings from ancient Koroni), as well as the churches of Zoodochos Pigi and Agios Nikolas at the main square.
The church of Zoodochos Pigi was inaugurated in 1835 and today it is being adorned by three sacred relics: Τhe Icon of Zoodochos Pigi, the so-called “Petalidiotisa”, a sacred Antimension, (a piece of fabric decorated with sacred images and symbols), dating back to 1837 and the Sacred relic of Agios Dimitrios the Myrovlitos. The icon of Virgin Mary was created by Ioannis P. Mavromichalis in 1841 and was restored by archaeologists - conservators in June 2013. Virgin Mary of Petalidi is the Protector of pregnant women, of parents and of those suffering from illnesses among the people of Messinia.
Another important sight is that of the Roman Baths, the remains of which were found in the location of Loutra, (in Greek meaning “Baths”), 1 kilometer north of Petalidi. The masonry, partially, remains intact up to one meter high. Scattered architectural parts can be seen on the site, such as the base of a column and a capital decorated with embossed marble leaves.
During the excavations in 1989, two marble statues were revealed, a headless male as well as a female one, parts of a mosaic floor and few coins. During the excavation in 1996, 1.5 kilometers from the Castle of Petalidi, (where the acropolis of ancient Koroni has been found), dispersed building material was discovered which belonged to a large bath complex which extends to three levels. Two marble statues, a male as well as a female one, were, also, found, both dating back to the Roman period.
The last reference point is the Castle of Pera, which is, also, known as the Castle of Petalidi or Leone Castle. It is located at a higher location than Petalidi, close to the settlement of Agia Sotira, the older name of which was Pera. The Castle has very few embrasures and it is built at a very privileged position. It has a great visual range, since it scouts, not only the inland, but, also, a large part of the coastline. It is possibly identified as Castro Leone, according to references that date back to 1409. It is believed that it belongs to the second period of the Venetian domination having been built around 1700. Its shape is almost rectangle with the entrance on the west side. In the interior of the Castle there are remains of buildings, of a cistern and a small chapel.
The Castle, since it did not have many embrasures, was not made to repel any attacks. It was built to protect the goods kept there, and there was, also, a small guard that used to live there. One of the storerooms, in the interior of the Castle, was destroyed with the use of dynamite.
Hunters of valuable metals believed that there was gold inside, so they blew up the alabaster cisterns used for the storage of olive oil, wine etc. The Castle began to be destroyed around the end of the 1950’s, when metal detectors first appeared.