Mesolongi was built in the 13th century by Dalmatian pirates on 3 small islands that merged with the passing of time. The name seems to derive from the Dalmatian words Messo – Langi, which mean village next to a lake.
Until 1700, Mesolongi was under Venetian domination. Its inhabitants were mostly fishermen. They lived in cabins which were made of a kind of waterproof straw and reed and stood on stilts above sea water so that they did not get in contact with it.
After the Renaissance, Mesolongi was a village of fishermen. Several inhabitants began, except of fishing, to develop in the construction of ships in the local shipyards. The fleet of Mesolongi numbered 50 big ships with commercial activities even abroad.
During the Orlof Revolt in 1770 the fleet of Mesolongi was defeated and the town passed to the Ottomans. Mesolongi revolted on May 20, 1821 and was a major stronghold of the Greek rebels in the Greek War of Independence, being the seat of the Senate of Western Continental Greece. Its inhabitants successfully resisted a siege by Ottoman forces in 1822. The second siege started on April 15, 1825 by Reşid Mehmed Pasha.
After a year of relentless enemy attacks and facing starvation, the people of Mesolongi decided to leave the beleaguered city in the “Exodus of its Guards” (The Sortie) on the night of April 10, 1826. At the time, there were 10,500 people in Mesolongi, 3,500 of who were armed. Very few people survived the Ottoman pincer movement after the betrayal of their plan.
Due to the heroic stance of the population and the subsequent massacre of its inhabitants by the Turkish-Egyptian forces, the city of Mesolongi received the honorary title of Hiera Polis (the Sacred City), unique among other Greek cities.
Perhaps Mesolongi fell at the time of the Exodus, but his history stands high and illuminates hearts of free men throughout the ages.
In the years following its liberation the town of Mesolongi produced five famous Prime Ministers (Spyridon and Charilaos Trikoupis etc), many historical personages, poets, artists, scientists, architects and men of letters. The famous British poet and philhellene Lord Byron, who supported the Greek struggle for independence, died in Mesolongi in 1824. He is commemorated by a cenotaph containing his heart and a statue located in the town.
Today Mesolongi is developed as a tourist attraction, being a town symbolizing freedom and commemorating it through the many international memorials in the Garden of Heroes. It is a universal symbol of the struggle of nations for dignity and freedom and a beautiful site offering great interest and rich opportunities for every visitor.