Proti Island

Proti is a beautiful little island directly across from Marathopoli, Messenia.

Just a mile away from the coast, this place is arid and uninhabited yet a very interesting spot since ancient times.

The island's name derives from the sea god Proteus, son of Poseidon. And that is why Proti Island resembles a crocodile: when the Greek deity Proteus would become angry, in his wrath he would transform into a beast and take the form of an island – the Isle of Proteus.

Proti Island possesses great archaeological importance. Citadel ruins, with a circular turret wall, all part of an ancient acropolis, still remain and are dated among the Mycenaean and Preclassical Periods.

During the Peloponnesian War, Proti Island played a pivotal role leading to many victories in the battles opposing Athenian and Spartan fleets in approximately 424 B.C.

Also on the island stands Gorgopege Assumption Monastery, dedicated to the “Virgin Mary of Quickwater”, which was built starting in 1984. The old chapel was erected there around 1850 on top of the ruins of an ancient temple celebrating the Greek goddess Artemis “Euploías”, i.e. “Artemis of Fair Sea Voyage”.

Many were the times when Proti has served as a natural breakwater, protecting ships from the force of waves in the Ionian Sea, such as the battleship “Spetses” anchored on Proti Island back in 1899 to find shelter from a heavy storm.

In the heyday of piracy, Proti Island, specifically the Strait of Katoulias was used as a base for privateer Katoulias, who hailed from the Island of Cephalonia while his crew was from the infamous region of Mani, formerly known for its blood feuds.

On Proti, in the small Bay of Grammeno (which loosely translates to “written”), approximately 30 engraved inscriptions serve as signposts from various periods – dating back to Postclassical, Roman and Byzantine Eras. Some of these writings express wishes of sailors, boatmen from days of old who used the island’s coves as a haven from the heavy sea, leaving wishes to the gods, requesting that their journeys continue safely. A few of the engravings, however, are darker in nature and consist in warnings meant for pirates...

“He who spends the night in the straits of Proti had better stay awake, for otherwise he shall become the loot of plundering thieves of Barbary.”

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