Sphacteria Island

COUNTY: Messinia MUNICIPALITY: Pylos-Nestor

An historical island at the entrance to the Navarino bay is 3.1km2 in area. It is located northwest of Peloponnese and belongs to the prefecture of Messenia. This rocky island is inaccessible with steep shores. Even though it is inhabitable since the Antiquity, it has a rich history. In 425 BC it was the theater of bloody battles between the Athenians and the Spartans during the Peloponnesian Wars. Though well-fortified by the Spartans, the Athenians managed to conquer it; they captured the guards and burnt the forest that covered it. During the Ottoman empire, it was also the theater of many battles between the Greeks and the Turks, chief among them a bloody battle between the Greek and philhellene forces on the one side and the Turks and the Turk-Egyptians on the other. The Ottomans conquered the island in 1825, slaughtered its defenders, among them fighters such as Santarosa, Anagnostaras, Tsamados, Sahinis, etc.

On the island there is a monument in honor of Count of Santarosa, who was minister of War in Italy. Many other monuments decorate this island, constructed to honor the fighters who lost their lives in battle. The wooden church of Agios Nikolaos, built in 1897 by the Russians during the Navarino battle and the small church of Analipsis (The Ascension of Jesus), are must-sees. On the island’s small deck there is an obelisk on which the story of the island is written.