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.
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 Aetoliko, 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. και ο 18°ς αιώνας είναι περίοδος εξαιρετικής ναυτιλιακής ακμής.» 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.
Aetoliko 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 Aetoliko 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 "Aetolikon". As it was finally revealed, it was its original name 100 years before the beginning of the 1821 revolution. The islet of Aetoliko 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. Aetoliko, 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 Aetoliko. 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 Aetoliko 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.
DIEXODOS Center of Culture and Art, is the living cultural and historical Hub of Messolonghi.
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 is section of Ministry of culture and Sports.
The Centre for Environmental Education, is an educational unit of the Ministry of Education, Research and Religions.
The Public Institute of the Vocational Training provide specializations in various fields.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The Cultural & Educational Association the “Aetoliko” is aims about the preservation and promotion of Aetoliko cultural heritage, local tradition and Art.
The Cultural Association the “Anatolikon” is aims culture, local and nautical tradition.
The Association of Equestrian-Armored Festivities the “Agia Agathe” is aim to the preservation of the local tradition of Agia Agathe Feast.
The Cultural and Folklore Association "The Sacred Town of Messolonghi" is the association that has undertaken the preservation of the Folklore Museum of Messolonghi.
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.