It is not clearly known when the town was built or from whom it got
its name. In the Venetian maps it is referred to with the name "GURGULIA".
Fr. Poukevil, who visited Gargaliani in 1805 says about it: "It does not
seem that this large village was more populated in the ancient times than it is
nowadays, since historians have forgotten about this place of the country which
is between Kiparissia
and Pilos." However,
it is certain that in Gargaliani during the post-roman era (150 AD- 950 AD) there
was a small settlement. This was testified by the Ancient Tombs which were discovered
in 1933 as well as large jar ditches in the north of the town, called "Anemomilos".
The various findings from the graves and ditches are from that period. There is
no doubt that the whole of the town plus the previous Municipality of Platamodas
and now Municipality of
Gargaliani was inhabited in prehistoric times.
There have been traces of inhabitants during the following:
Proto-Hellenic period (3000-2000 BC) in Orntines, 7 km northwest of Gargaliani,
above the Lagouvardos Bay and near the south bank of the river.
Mid-Hellenic period (2000-1600 BC) in Tsouka, 3 km east of Gargaliani, in
Kantamo 4km south of the town and in Kanalos, 4 km west of Gargaliani.
Post-Hellenic period (1600-1400 BC) in Lagos, 7.5 km east of Gargaliani.
Classic Years in Davanos, 2.5 km south of Gargaliani
Hellenistic Years in Chouchlasti, 4 km west of Gargaliani.
Roman Years in Vrisomilos, 7 km south of Gargaliani.
Byzantine Years in Koutsouveri, 2.5 km north of Gargaliani.
During the Homeric Years the whole of the Municipality belonged to
the kingdom of Nestor. In ancient times, 6 kms southwest from Gargaliani in Dialiskari
there was a big and important town. Studying the various findings it is concluded
that the town was inhabited from the 4th century BC up to the 7th century AD.
During the Venetian Times, Gargaliani became part of the Arcadia region (TERRITORIO)
of Methoni prefecture and then of Messinia prefecture. In the Venetian scripts
of that time the town is referred to as GARGALIANO, which according to the historian
Paul Karolidis comes from the name Gargalos or Gargalianos and according to the
journalist M. Rodas, it comes from the Venetian exile in the area named GARGALIANO.
History (2nd Part)
At the beginning of the second Turkish Domination (1715) the Cathedral
of the town, "Virgin Mary's Birth" was completed; the building of it had started
during the Venetian times. One of the most important historical events of that
period (1715-1821) is the revolution of the Greek slavery against the Turks in
1770, which although it was encouraged by Russia, it did not get the Russian support
with failing as a result. In order to control that revolution, the Turkish Marshal
pasha Moustafa set off from Larissa,
he came all the way to Trifillia
and having controlled the revolution there, continued from Kiparissia to Gargaliani,
where he camped with 20,000 Turkish and Albanian infantrymen and horsemen. From
then he moved towards Neokastro (Pilos).
At the end of the 18th century, the senior-archimandrite Archbishop
of Christianoupoli Anthimos Andrianopoulos was appointed as the notable and chief
of Gargaliani. His brother Ioannis or Anagnostis served in the Russian Army and
he got up to the rank of a major. During that time the desert island Proti
which is opposite Gargaliani was used as a hideout by wild pirates, both local
and from other areas who found shelter in the bays, the rocks and the caves. The
security of the country had been disturbed since the Orlof period. During that
time Gargaliani was the headquarters of the Ottoman court. There is written evidence
that the Albanian cadi (judge) of Gargaliani arbitrarily decapitated six innocent
Gargaliani citizens in 1770.
On the eve of the Great Revolution, there were 1,000 residents in
Gargaliani, the houses were covered with shiny, red tiles and their gardens had
beautiful cypress-trees. Poukevil describes the scenery with the following words:
"Small mountains covered with vineyards, a scene full of picturesque forests,
the sweetness in the air smelling of countless flowers, the beautiful view of
the sea, make this place the most attractive in the whole of Messinia".
In 1812 the first school was established in Gargaliani, with teacher
the relative and fellow citizen of the national martyr Archbishop Grigorio the
5th, Mr. Kallinikos Kastorchis, who later became the principal of Kalamata and
later Archbishop of Fthiotida
During the Greek Revolution the political leader of the town was Antonios
Loukas, owner of a large property, who contributed to the development of the Revolution
with great amounts of money, the Army chief was Captain Dionisios Agapinos who
served throughout the Revolution with 50 local fighters under his supervision.
The Agapinos' family along with Dimitrios Papachristofilou were members of the
Society of Friends. Telos Agras, the famous chieftain of the Macedonian War was
their descendant and he got murdered by the Bulgarians; his real name was Sarantelos
Telas or Sarantos Agapinos. King Othon awarded the fighter Dionisios Agapinos
a medal and certificate of national gratitude.
The following fighters of the Revolution survived and were awarded
a distinction by king Othon: Theodoros Alexopoulos, Dimitrios Anagnostopoulos,
Ioannis Anagnostopoulos, Konstantinos Anagnostopoulos, Theodoros Vlachadamopoulos,
Panayiotis Diakoumopoulos, Nikolaos Kotaras, Athanasios Kousoulas, Athanasios
Krekoukias, Kostas Kritharas, Dimitrios Konstantinou, Georgios Nikolopoulos, Dionisios
Nikolopoulos, Athanasios Pantelopoulos, Georgios Papadimopoulos, Antonios Papachristofilopoulos,
Georgios Petropoulos, Dionisios Petropoulos, Spiridon Petropoulos, Georgios Skiadas,
Nikolaos Skoutzopoulos, Theodoros Chronopoulos, Dimitrios Christofilogiannopoulos.
After the disembarkation of Ibrahem's Egyptian Army in February 1825,
Gargaliani, due to its geographical position, became a passing-through place of
warriors heading for Neokastro (Pilos) and Old Navarino.
Ioannis Makrigiannis rushed to the castles, which were in danger and
under the government's orders, when he reached Gargaliani he recruited. As he
saw 1,600 men from the area of Gargaliani recruiting, he writes being moved: "They
are such decent people although they are few and far away". It was here in Gargaliani
that he met with his brother Petrobei Katzi, went to church, and took the Holy
Communion in the Church of Virgin Mary and set off for Navarino.
Between 1825 and until 1828 and during the numerous attacks of Ibrahem
to Trifillia, his army ransacked, burned down and destroyed Gargaliani and the
surrounding area including the whole plain of Trifillia. On the 23rd May 1825
Ibrahem himself with his army set off at 7am from Filiatra
came to Gargalianoi and left through Lagoudisti (Chora) to Neokastro and Methoni.
The residents of the town had found shelter in Kontovounia, Soulimohoria and Zourtsa
following the government's order. On October 7th 1825, Ibrahem with 23,000 soldiers
invaded the plain of Trifillia and ransacked it until Kiparissia and mountainous
Trifillia through Pilos. The Egyptian Army did a new invasion on Trifillia from
Neokastro on 28th October 1827 during which Gargaliani along with the rest of
the area got ransacked and everybody who was there, unarmed and powerless got
killed. In the church of Virgin Mary there is an icon, which still shows the signs
of his atrocities. A lot of families, women and children in particular, had found
shelter in the Ionian Islands
and mainly in Zante throughout
the revolution from where they returned after the liberation.
The population of the town went through terrible difficulties because
of Ibrahem's repeated ransacks. The houses were burned and the land destroyed.
They had to start from scratch with no money or income. That is why after the
liberation, the citizens asked from the government to support them financially
for their agricultural needs.
After the liberation, in February 1829, the members of the French
Scientific Delegation following Marshal N. MAISON coming from Navarino, visited
Gargaliani. The French impressed by the warm welcome wrote in their report: "In
Gargaliani we made contact with the local people (the Greek people) and we feel
obliged to restore the bad reputation immediately which had been forced to form,
because we heard them slandering and because almost everywhere we only came across
beggars, weak and dirty people". This 'report' from the French, informed
us that from the 1,000 citizens of Gargaliani only 250 survived after the war.
After the liberation, Gargaliani kept improving and king Othon visited the town
on October 4th 1833, he stayed in Dionisios Skilodimas residence and on February
14th 1838 he and Amalia went back to Gargaliani and that time they stayed in Theodoros
Alexopoulos residence, an elder fighter.
The main product of the area until the 2nd World War was raisin, with
its production reaching 9,000 Venetian kilolitres.
Gargaliani started to develop mainly after 1850, when the raisin plantations
multiplied from year to year, but from 1893 the raisin trade started going through
great difficulties and it was then that many people immigrated from Gargaliani
to America. Among these was Theofrastos S. Anagnostopoulos, who immigrated in
1906 and lived in Baltimore, USA and later had a son, Spiros Agniou, who became
the Vice President of the USA.
In the more recent history of Gargaliani and of the whole nation,
the young second lieutenant and Macedonian warrior-leader captain Telos Agras
(Sarantis Agapinos) stuck out. The following iconographers coming from Gargaliani
are also important to be mentioned: Ioannis G. Tabakis and Alexandros A. Diakoumopoulos.
Gargaliani paid a big death toll during the last wars (1912-1913, 1918-1922, 1940-1944)
until the final National settlement.
In the more recent years Dimitrios V. Briskas, the brother of the
Professor in Paris University Sotirios Briskas became a great benefactor. The
money he sent from the city FORT LAUDERDALE in America, was used to build the
Briskios City Library and the city Athletics Centre of Gargaliani.
This text is cited Oct 2003 from the Municipality of Gargaliani URL below