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Kalamata is a city in southern Greece, in the Peloponnesos. It is the capital and main port of the Messinia prefecture built in the heart of the Messinian Gulf near the ancient city of Farai mentioned by Homer, 238 km from Athens. The city is located west of Sparta and can be accessed by bus and train. The city has an international airport and an important harbour. Ferries are available to places such as the Greek island of Kythira.
The Gulf of Messinia, where Kalamata is located, has many long beaches. The Taygetus River and mountain range is located about 4 km east of Kalamata and the Kalamata - Sparta highway runs through the range. Olives and olive oil are important products that are exported from Kalamata. The newly established University of the Peloponnese has a campus in Kalamata.
Contrary to many other Greek cities, Kalamata does not date back to classical times. Messini, which is located elsewhere in Messinia is an ancient site. From 1681 onwards it was ruled by the Venetians. In 23 March 1821, Kalamata was the first city to be liberated from the Turkish occupation of over 300 years. In 1825, Ibrahim Pasha destroyed the city during the Greek war of independence. After this, Kalamata was rebuilt and became one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean Sea. The 2nd oldest Chamber of Commerce in the Mediterranean, after that of Marseille, exists in Kalamata. On 29th April 1941, a battle was fought near the port between invading German forces and the 2nd New Zealand Division during which Jack Hinton was awarded the Victoria Cross. After World War II, and due to political issues, Kalamata, as well as most of the Peloponnese, was excluded from the government development plans in favour of northern Greece. That was a major strike on the local economy resulting in the decline of the port and the city. During 70s and the 80s development and growth in Kalamata were words from worlds away and only after the city suffered severe damage from the earthquakes of 13th September 1986, the local authorities and individuals strained their financial resources to bring about the wind of change to the forgotten capital of Messinia. Kalamata has now fully recovered and developed into a modern provincial capital with all facilities and amenities.