History in Kalamata

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Kalamata is a less classic city, and has a fairly recent history compared to other ancient Greek settlements. It has witnessed Turkish hegemony, Greek rebellion struggle and the rise to being listed in the league of some of the most important ports in Europe. Here is a guide to the history of this lesser-known, albeit interesting, Greek trade center.

Earliest History

Kalamata was under Frank seizure from 1205 to 1381 and was governed by the French noble family - the Villehardouins - from 1210 to 1278. They built fancy monuments and palaces that intersperse the contemporary landscape of Kalamata. The Turks annexed the city from 1481 to 1685 and later, along with the entire country, Katamata was captured by the Venatian forces in 1751. The Venetian rule brought about some major changes in the profile of Kalamata. To begin with, it metamorphosed into a commercially and economically thriving region and became an important trade center for the Venetians. The unrelenting Turks once again took over the booming city in 1715, and governed it until the eventful Greek War of Independence in 1821, in which Pertobeis Mavromihalis liberated the city from outside forces.

Free at Last

On March 23, 1821, Kalamata earned the distinction of being the first city to be freed from Turkish occupation that spanned across almost three centuries. In 1825, Ibrahim Pasha completely destroyed the resilient city that was back on its feet as a flourishing port after a massive rebuilding exercise.

On April 29, 1941, a fierce battle was waged between invading German soldiers and the second New Zealand Division. Jack Hilton was awarded the Victoria Cross during the battle. Post World War II, due to intense political pressure, Kalamata and several other Peloponnese regions were brushed aside from the official development plans in favor of the strategically located Northern Greece region.

The Downfall

The once prosperous port of Kalamata witnessed a staggering downfall due to neglect by the government authorities. During the 70’s and 80’s, the town almost faded into oblivion with its poor economy and apathetic administration. Another hard blow on Kalamata was the severe loss borne by the town during the earthquake of September 13, 1986.

The Resurrection

The earthquake was a sort of a blessing in disguise, because it shook the indifferent authorities and locals to take appropriate measures to help Kalamata regain its past glory. Everyone worked together to pool resources and create an organized system of governance. The well-planned damage control measures succeeded in helping the town get back its old title of an illustrious Mediterranean port that has all modern amenities, a well structured transport system and one of the best hospitals in the country.

Kalamata has had a very turbulent and eventful history, and has come a long way from being the second oldest Chamber of Commerce in the Mediterranean to a contemporary town with modern facilities.

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