Though not Greece's most attractive city, Kalamata does have the animated air of a busy market town as well as a long beachfront promenade and a string of lively squares at its heart. The city is built atop ancient Pharai, described by Homer as subject to the kingdom of Agamemnon. In the 8th century BC, Pharai was annexed as a province of Laconia and, like most towns in the area, was not independent again until the Battle
of Leuctra ended Spartan domination, prompting the Theban general Epaminondas to erect the great fortifications of Messene. Kalamata is a crossroads between such places as Pylos and Ancient Messene to the west, Sparta and Mystras to the east, and the Mani to the south.