The World Heritage Society recently announced that Hellas's ancient Messeni will be submitted as a candidate for UNESCO’s world heritage site. The site has already been included on the nominations list of Greece that will be submitted to UNESCO in the next few days. It is reported that the most important monuments of the archaeological site will be: the Asklepieion, the Temple of Poseidon, the Sanctuary of Demeter and the Dioskouroi, the stadium and gymnasium of Heroon, where sons of noble families were trained, as well as the Theatre of Messeni, which has been cleared for a make-over.

Ancient Messeni (Αρχαία Μεσσήνη) is a local community within the regional unit of Messenia, and is located in the far south of modern Greece. Most of the area of Ancient Messene contains the ruins of the large classical city-state of Messene refounded by Epaminondas in 369 BC, after the battle of Leuctra and the first Theban invasion of the Peloponnese. The ancient city can be visited and is a major tourist attraction. In ancient times, it was founded by Helots (Spartan slaves) running from Sparta. The defensive wall they built around the city to keep them out still exists in some places.

According to UNESCO, World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. Countries (or States Parties) submit nomination proposals to the World Heritage Committee. If the Committee determines, based on the recommendations of its Advisory Bodies (ICOMOS and IUCN), that the nomination meets at least one of the necessary criteria, then the property proposed by the State Party is inscribed on the World Heritage List. In general, the Committee adds about 25-30 sites per year to the list. Today there are 911 sites on the list, located in 151 countries around the world.

Once a country signs the Convention, and has sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, the resulting prestige often helps raise awareness among citizens and governments for heritage preservation. Greater awareness leads to a general rise in the level of the protection and conservation given to heritage properties. A country may also receive financial assistance and expert advice from the World Heritage Committee to support activities for the preservation of its sites. In the case of Messini, this would ensure that many generations to come can enjoy the wealth of beauty that Messini represents, and I for one, hope they get added to the list.