The lagoon of Messolonghi-Aetoliko laughing and sleeping as a poem of serenity

Aitoliko Port Museum

The Port Museum of Messolonghi-Aitoliko aims at featuring the fishermen’s tradition, the products of the largest lagoon in Greece and all the cultural and natural assets of the area, the land of the “Heroes”.

Cultural identity of the Messolonghi-Aitoliko area Download Here

Messolonghi is one the most historical places in the country

The distinguished and popular poet, Kostis Palamas, in his poem “Glory in Messolonghi” praises the history of this place. Messolonghi is a city of the Western Central part of Greece.

The city, built between the lagoon of Messolonghi and the Kleisova lagoon, is located in 249 km from Athens, about 35km from Agrini and 37km from Antirrio. The name Messolonghi was first mentioned by Paruta, who described the naval battle of Lebanon near Nafpaktos. It comes from the Italian words mezzo (middle, half) and lago (lake). It is a place surrounded by lakes. The name of the area is recorded since 1571. In the 17th century there was great prosperity and a seafarer fleet was developed. With the failed rebellion of the Orlofians in 1770, the city was destroyed, like other settlements in the area, and the population was suffering under the Ottoman occupation.

Historical development of Messolonghi

Originally, a fishermen’s’ district was created, living by the favor of the sea. The natural morphology of the area and especially the fish farms helped develop it. Then new inhabitants appeared -the Dalmatoi pirates and fishermen from Parga, Epirus- who due to their origins brought the elements of evolution, the urge for adventure, the need for wealth. Seafarers from Kefalonia were added and affinities were created. The first inhabitants settled around the 13th century on three islets, which were unified later on. Their positions correspond to approximately the current positions of the church of Saint Spyridon. In 1650 the area was called (like the neighboring Aitoliko, which existed before), Little Venice and the transportation between the islands was made with small boats and monks. At the same time, ships of the citizens of Messolonghi were carrying on the Mediterranean, having as an anchor the so called “Karavostasi” outside the lagoon, between Tourlidas and Vassiladios. The smallest ships entered the lagoon to the waterfront that was situated more in the North than it is situated today. The basis for the development of this new small society was, of course, fish farms, but other sources of income, and preferably related ones, were needed. With timber (appropriate and abundant) from Mount Arakinthos (or Zygos) and with the knowledge that existed, shipyards were created. Soon Messolonghi acquired remarkable facilities and a major merchant fleet, which has been able to compete equally with Venice (1735). The 17th and 18th centuries are a period of exceptional maritime development». After the Treaty of Pasarovich in 1718 the trade route between the European and the Ottoman Empire was opened, as the port of Messolonghi constituted from the beginning the hub of a system of Ionian ports with internal interconnection and interdependence in productive activities. And the 18th Century was a period of maritime prosperity and development. The Adiatic Sea trade blossomed as well as the Adriatic Economy. Terrestrial and maritime trade is developed between the cities of the Western Balkans and the cities of Italy, such as Valetta, Livorno, Trieste, Genoa, Ancona and Marseilles. In 1726 the Venice sub- consulate was established in Messolonghi with the first consul of Spyridon Barotsis. Akakia Kordosi says in a relevant interview: Messolonghi had developed trade, shipyards and a fleet with eighty merchant ships that mainly contacted Italy, since there were also Messolonghi agencies in the ports of Italy. Messolonghi had a shipyard, which received orders from all the Greek islands, but also from Italy. The fact that so many ships, most of which have been built in such a small city as Messolonghi, lead us to the several years ago that Messolonghi was already a dominant maritime and commercial center since the early 18th century.

Aitoliko: The city of water – “Small Venice” of Greece

Aitoliko began as a small island complex in the middle of the lagoon, where fishermen joined their shores with wooden bridges. Slowly these islands joined together creating a single island. For the explanation of the name Aitoliko there are several versions.

The first is that during the revolution it was named “Anatoliko”. Historical references and public documents of that time refer to this name on the grounds that it was the eastern island of Echinades or because it was east of Acheloos. As “Anatoliko” refers to many folk songs. But its normal origin is from the word “pump”, because of its location so close to the surface of the water, wherever it was excavated, even in the shallowest spots, it was pumping water. The name that prevailed is “Aitolikon”. As it was finally revealed, it was its original name 100 years before the beginning of the 1821 revolution. The islet of Aitoliko communicates with the eastern and western land by two stony bridges of about 300m in length and 8m in width. The need for the construction of stone bridges is imperative for the islets in the heart of an amazing and rich ecosystem that includes a lagoon complex, the sustainable plain of the Achelloos delta, and the equally endless lagoon. Aitoliko, already from the years before the revolution, had the one and only internal port in Greece and a fleet of merchant vessels that gave it a strong naval presence throughout the Mediterranean. All the agricultural products of Paracheloitida are almost exclusively transported from the port of Aitoliko. The stable stone bridges facilitate the communication and the movement of its products, its trade and its naval presence are imperative and the goal of their construction-immediately after the liberation of Aitoliko by the Turks- is a common desire of the local community.

Since February 2002, the stone arched bridges connecting the island have been proclaimed as historic and preserved monuments. They are a remarkable example of 19th century infrastructure engineering and are indissolubly linked to the memories of locals.

Cultural identity of the Messolonghi-Aitoliko area Download Here

Living Memory


The stakeholders involved in the MUSE project will animate the project’s result, aiming at giving added value to the society and boost the services and infrastructure for cultural, natural and scientific tourism sector, in the port museum network.


DIEXODOS Center of Culture and Art

DIEXODOS Center of Culture and Art, is the living cultural and historical Hub of Messolonghi.


Byron Society

Byron Society is an international Centre for Research and Study of the life and work of Lord Byron and Philhellenism.


Ephorate of Antiquities of Aetoloacarnania and Lefkada

Ephorate of Antiquities of Aetoloacarnania and Lefkada is section of Ministry of culture and Sports.


Centre for Environmental Education

The Centre for Environmental Education, is an educational unit of the Ministry of Education, Research and Religions.


Public Institute of the Vocational

The Public Institute of the Vocational Training provide specializations in various fields.


Management body of Messolonghi Lagoon

The Management body of Messolonghi Lagoon is the institution responsible for the protection of the environment of the Messolonghi Lagoon and the mountainous area of Aitoloakarnania.


Historical Archaeological Society of Western and Central Greece

The Historical Archaeological Society of Western and Central Greece is a non-profit institution for the promotion of activities in the field of Culture Heritage


Section of Modern Monuments and Technical Works of Western Greece, Peloponnese and Southern Ionian Sea-Ministry of Culture

The Section of Modern Monuments and Technical Works of Western Greece, Peloponnese and Southern Ionian Sea-Ministry of Culture is part of Ministry of Culture.


International Brotherhood for the Remembrance of Fighters of the Sieges and Exodus from Messolonghi

The International Brotherhood for the Remembrance of Fighters of the Sieges and Exodus from Messolonghi is the institution for Preservation and Promotion of the Memory of the Siege Fighters and the Messolonghi Exit.


Friends of Historical Costume and Armor Club “LIAROS”

The Friends of Historical Costume and Armor Club “LIAROS” is aims to document and then preserve the historical memory of the Sacred Town of Messolonghi.


Cultural & Educational Association the “Aetoliko”

The Cultural & Educational Association the “Aetoliko” is aims about the preservation and promotion of Aetoliko cultural heritage, local tradition and Art.


Cultural Association the “Anatolikon”

The Cultural Association the “Anatolikon” is aims culture, local and nautical tradition.


Cultural Association of the Panaetolion “Christos Kapralos”

Roots are Routes is an educational program for traditional art crafts

Association of Equestrian-Armored Festivities the “Agia Agathe”

The Association of Equestrian-Armored Festivities the “Agia Agathe” is aim to the preservation of the local tradition of Agia Agathe Feast.

Cultural and Folklore Association “The Sacred Town of Messolonghi”

The Cultural and Folklore Association “The Sacred Town of Messolonghi” is the association that has undertaken the preservation of the Folklore Museum of Messolonghi.

Cultural Association of “Ai Symios” Festival

The Cultural Association of “Ai Symios” Festival, is occupied in the preservation of the local tradition, history, religious, music and dance associated with the Ai Symios celebration.


Tourist info

Useful telephon number

  • Telephone number information: 11888
  • Hellenic National Meteorological Service: 14944 
  • Greek time: 14844 
  • Information for international calls: 139

Health services

  • Hospital Messolonghi +30 26310 57100
  • Clinic Galata +30 2631041188
  • Clinic Greek +30 2631025907
  • Clinic Evinochori  +30 2631039249
  • Center of Health Aetoliko +30 2632 360300

Tourist services

  • Municipality of Sacred Town of Messolonghi +30 2631360913
  • Commerce and Industry Association of Messolonghi Tourism development agency +30 26310 25564
  • Messolonghi Rentals +30 2631 0 55313
  • Messolonghi Marina +30 2631 050190


  • “Radiotaxi” in Messolonghi +30 26320 22505
  • “Radiotaxi” in Aetoliko +30 26320 22116

Post services

  • ELTA Messolonghi +30 26310 22605
  • ELTA Aetoliko +30 26320 23122

Emergency number

  • European emergency number: 112
  • Police: 100
  • Messolonghi Police +30 26310 55715
  • Aitoliko Police +30 26320 23333
  • Tourist Police Messolonghi +30 26310 27220
  • Road Traffic Police +30 26310 23117
  • Police Section of Safety Messolonghi   +30 26310 55711
  • Municipal Police +30 26313 63455
  • Fire service 199
  • Fire service Messolonghi +30 26310 28787
  • Forest Fires 191
  • National Instant Aid Center: 166


  • Urban Messolongi lines +30 26310 22217
  • Urban Aetoliko lines +30 26320 22227
  • Long distance lines Messolonghi +30 26310 22371

Port Authority

  • Port office Messolonghi +30 26310 51211
  • Port office Aetolikou +30 26320 23555

Culture – Archeological sites

  • Roman baths’ St. Thomas +30 26310 22784
  • Library Valveios +30 26310 24344
  • Speech center and art +30 26310 51260
  • Garden Heroes +30 26310 22490
  • Museum Trikoupi +30 26310 26283
  • Municipal History and Art Museum Gallery +30 26310 22134
  • Trikoupeio cultural center +30 26310 25631

We would like to thank for their general contribution of Media material