Messini (Greek: Μεσσήνη) is a municipal unit (dimotiki enotita) and seat (edra) of the municipality (dimos) of Messini within the regional unit (perifereiaki enotita) of Messenia in the region (perifereia) of Peloponnese, one of 13 regions into which Greece has been divided. Before 2011 the same hierarchy prevailed, according to Law 2539 of 1997, the Kapodistrias Plan, except that Messenia was a nomos and the Municipal unit was a locality (topiko diamerisma). The dimos existed under both laws, but not with the same constituents.
Messini (modern pronunciation) is not to be confused with its ancient namesake, Messene, located 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) to the north in the shadow of Mount Ithome. Ancient Messene is an equally large but abandoned site of ruins partially occupied by the small village of Mavrommati (not to be confused with Mavrommati Pamisou, or just Pamisou, on the north of the modern city). Messini did not gradually become nor was it created by population transfer from Ancient Messene. Formerly Nisi (Νησί), it underwent a name change to Messini in 1867.
The modern town has some 10,000 inhabitants. It is the second largest municipality of Messinia. The town centre is 3 km from the Messinian Gulf coast, near the right bank of the river Pamisos. The major city of Messenia, Kalamata, is 10 km to the east. The town is accessed by Greek National Road 82 (Pylos - Kalamata - Sparta). The Kalamata International Airport is two kilometers to the east. Since 1892, Messini had a railway station on a branch line from the Corinth–Kalamata railway. It was closed in 1976, reopened in 2007, and again closed in 2011.
Before the reorganization, the municipality of Messini contained 14 local divisions (topika diamerismata) for a total population of 11041. Since 2010 Messini has still been a municipality, one of the six of Messenia. However, it has absorbed seven other former municipalities. These, and the former municipality of Messini, have become municipal units (dimotikes enotites) of the municipality Messini, with a total population of 23,482 (2011 census). These are as follows:
The municipality has an area of 562.062 km2, the municipal unit 84.602 km2. The municipal unit of Messini contains the same subdivisions and populations as did the previous municipality of Messini but the subdivisions are now local communities. These are as follows:
In summary, Messini is a town, a municipal unit and a municipality.
The province of Messini (Greek: Επαρχία Μεσσήνης) was one of the provinces of the Messenia Prefecture. Its territory corresponded with that of the current municipality Messini (except the municipal units Aipeia, Petalidi and Voufrades) and the municipal units Andania, Meligalas and Oichalia. It was abolished in 2006.
Messini began its communal existence as Nisi, a settlement placed on an island (nēsos, from which Nisi) in the extensive marshland at the mouth of the Pamisos River. It was placed in Frankish territory, the Principality of Achaia, dated 1205-1432, consisting of 40 villages in Messenia and Elis. The ethnic content of the population in the vicinity at that time was Greeks and Christianized, Hellenized Slavs, which is reflected in the names of the villages around Messini. After 1432, when the Byzantine Empire fell and was commandeered by the Ottoman Empire, some Turks entered the region. Except for the names, these distinctions have more or less disappeared in modern Greece.
The government of Greece changed the official name to Messini in 1867. Baedeker's for the later 19th century and early 20th centuries referred to Nisi as "now officially Messini," a phrase that was widely used in travelogues of the period. The earliest Baedeker's to do so is the German edition of 1888. Prior to 1887 Nisi is not treated as Messini. Subsequent references to the place often refer to Nisi as "the popular name".
The populations of the town for the last few census' are given below.Ioannis Alevras (1912–1995), politician
Stephanos Linaios (1928-), actor