The History of the Village



The village is found at the site of a small, ancient Thessalian town, by the name of Polichna.

This town constituted one of the fortresses that protected the ancient city of Metropolis, safeguarding the passage through which the ancient tribes of Dolops and Athamanes invaded and looted the plain of Thessaly.

During the Roman Times, the village was allegedly overrun by the hosts of Pompey before the latter engaged against the armies of Caesar at the Battle at Pharsala in 48 B.C. it is conjectured by the evidence of some ruined graves found in the vicinity of the village that a skirmish between the armies was enacted there before the decisive battle leaving a number of casualties behind. That is why this place is up till now called Mnemata, which means “graves”.

During the Latin Conquest after 1204, Polichna was destroyed, possibly by landslides, and the residents moved a little lower, where they built a new village, which has survived to this day.

The name of the village allegedly originates in a worthy landowner of the village, whom the Franks called Misser Nicola (in modern French monsieur Nicola). He was said to have planted himself the vineyards himself in the area and specifically the grape of the black variety, which is exclusively produced at Messenikolas. It should be noted that Thessaly had been a Frankish fief for 110 years.

According to another version based on William Miller’s book Latin Conquest in Greece the name derives from the bailli (vassal) of Achaia, Nicola Saint Omer III. This vassal led a host of 40,000 soldiers who arrived at this area in 1304 to recapture the castle of Fanarion from Queen Anna of Epirus, who had high-handedly seized it before. The queen negotiated and turned over the castle to Saint Omer, whereupon the latter disbanded his army and the soldiers dispersed all over Thessaly. A group of them might have ascended the Agrafa mountain range, where they were given land titles. Some might have settled in the area of ancient Polichna, which eventually obtained the name Messenikolas from the leader’s Christian name. There is also a location near our village bearing until this day the name Kyr Nick, i.e. Sir Nick (or Misser Nick).


The village appears as an organized settlement by the name Mosnikolas in a document related to a census made by a Murad Bey in 1454 – 1455.  The corruption of the name does not possibly mean that the name does not refer to the present village.


This census was carried out in the years 1454-1455 for the Ottoman state by MuradBey and his scribe. They went about all the villages of the region and recorded the inhabitants, their crops and their occupations in general.

At the General State Archives in Karditsa there is a ledger in two volumes published in Turkey in 2001. One volume contains the greatest part of the census transliterated in the Latin alphabet and the other the whole census in the Arabic script, which was previously in use all over the Ottoman Empire. In order to render exactly the sounds he heard, the scribe used also Persian characters, which makes the text for us harder to understand.

This ledger gives us a clear picture of the villages of our area during the post Byzantine era. In the years of the census Messenikolaswas populated by 42 families, all Christian. The leaders of the 41 families were male and only one family had a widow as a leader. 15 single males were also attested.

The main occupation of the people was, as it is even today, viticulture as well as wine making. There were also cereal production, apiculture, sericulture, linen crops and other such pursuits, which are thoroughly mentioned in the census lists.

It is very interesting to note the names of the people. 14 families bore the surname Vassilis, whereas the widow was named ZoyaVassilova.

9 families had the surname Tzirtzis and three the name Birtzagis.  Among the names written in the ledgerconcerning people from Messenikolas and its surrounding area, are still found today, such as: Paskos, Tsoukalas, Kardaras, Xenos. Our village was entered in the census ledger as Mosnikolas, which today in Rumanian means Saint Nicholas or Uncle Nicholas.

The volume published in Turkey in 2001 includes in Latin script a great part of the census along with a mapcontaining the villages: Voniş (Vounesi), Palads(Blasdo), Portice(Portitsa), AyioYorgi(AgiosGeorgios), Kirasia, (Kerasia) Istinko(Kryoneri), Bijila(Bezoula), Tatay(Lambero) and others. Even Franco is mentioned, while there appears a settlement by the name of Nikola Çapoga, in the whereabouts of today’s Mitropolis.

Messenikolas was levied an annual tax of 2253 akce (aspra) payable to the feudal lord or reeve of the villageḤüseyinveled-iTimürdār. The same lord collected also the taxes from two Moslem villages of the Thessalian plain, Kesanlu (near today’s Kedros) and KizilkaSule. It should be noted that the Moslem population paid fewer taxes as they did not have to pay the ispence, a sort of capital tax. The feudal lord, apart from collecting the taxes, had to fulfill certain military obligations to the Sultan. The feudal administrative regime was a Byzantine legacy to the Ottomans, who found it most useful to retain.

Messenikolas belonged to the sancak (administrative area) of Trikala, which included the area from Nafpaktos as far as Platamonas. This sancak  comprised three vilayetsin our region. According to the map Messenikolas, along with Kerasia, Vounesi and Blasdo, belonged to the Fener (Fanari) vilayet. The remaining villages of the Nevropolis plateau, from Istinkoand further on, belonged to the Agrafavilayet. The third and largest vilayet was the one of Tirhala(Trikala).



We are deeply indebted to the Historian-Osmanologist of the National Capodistrian University of Athens (Dpt of Turkic and Contemporary Asiatic Studies) DrGeorgiosLiakopoulos for his careful task he undertook with great willingness to transliterate and translate the text of the census.

Finally, this publication is dedicated to the memory of our unforgettable friend and co-villager AlexandrosZoukas, who, more than a score of years ago, was the first to draw our attention to this as then unpublished ledger.


Translated into English by MILITSIS VASSILIS

The following is an exact translation of an excerpt of the census with a number of explanatory references that DrLiakopoulos had the courtesy to point out. 

Since 1525, when the so called Treaty of Tamasion was signed granting autonomy to the region of Agrafa, Messenikolas and the adjacent area had enjoyed a regime of self-rule until the time of Ali Pasha of Yannina. The latter abolished the autonomy of Agrafa in 1790 by violating the treaty.

The next written evidence comes from a 1637 inscription which mentions the sponsor of the frescoes painted in the village church, dedicated to the Holy Virgin.

Still another evidence arises from an unpublished deed of sales of 17 Nov, 1785 enacted between a certain resident, Stergios Psimmenopoulos or Psimmenos and a Turk, called Hosinaga.

In 1821, along with the rest of Greece, all the villages of Agrafa revolted against the Turks. In response to this uprisal, Mahmud Pasha, Dramalis moved against them and his successor Mustai Pasha of Skondra devastated the villages while he was heading towards Karpenission in 1823.

With the founding of the Greek State in 1833, Thessaly remained under the Ottoman yoke. Messenikolas was designated as the seat of the Nevropolis Gendarmerie Command, and ever since it had been the administrative center of the surrounding area even after Thessaly was annexed to Greece in 1881.

On June 26, 1848 Messenikolas was raided by a gang of two hundred armed bandits. The bandits made off with as much booty as they could carry loaded high on pack animals they seized from the villagers.

In 1854 there was again a revolutionary movement, which was instantly quenched by the Turks.

The revolution of 1878 boosted the morale of the Nevropolis residents and gave wings to their hopes for independence. The rebels gathered at Messenikolas in order to appoint a provisional administration for the Agrafa district. The rebels issued a declaration with the following text: “we, the residents of the different villages, have assembled together, charged with a special assignment by our villages, to elect the members for the provisional administration of Agrafa, save the Rentina Command. We have elected the following:

We entrust these members with the clear assignment to govern the place according to law, to bespeak our rights before independent Greece and Enlightened Europe, and to act according to what they think proper for the administration of the place, so that we may shake off the unbearable yoke of the Turkish Domination and be united with Mother Greece under the scepter of our beloved and respected King George I”

April 5, 1878, Mesinykola. The rulers of the villages… (signatures).



When Thessaly was liberated and annexed to Greece in 1881, Messenikolas, with its 961 inhabitants being more populous than the other villages of the area, became the seat of the Nevropolis Municipality. This included the following villages: Vounessi (Morfovouni), Kerassia, Stougo (Kryoneri), Bezoula, Sermeniko (Fylakti), Neochori, Portitsa, Agios Georgios, Blasdo (Moschato) and the Holy Monastery of Fresh Spring (Corona).

After the unfortunate Greco-Turkish War of 1897, the Turks recaptured the Thessalian Plain. Therefore, Messenikolas hosted the Greek political and military authorities of Karditsa as well as the Division of the Greek Army stationed at Trikala.

While the defeated Greek Army retreated, the state was unable to control the situation. Taking advantage of this state of dissolution, a group of convicts managed to escape from the prison of Chalkida. These fugitives raided the nearby village of Vounessi (Morfovouni), where they settled and set off raiding other villages,as well. On may 23, 1897, these bandits also attempted to raid Messenikolas, where apart from the indigenous population, there were refugees from Karditsa. The raiders were repelled but in the clash an aged woman was killed and three refugees were wounded. However, after a couple of days, the bandits attacked the village anew, which resulted in a day long battle in the north boundaries of the village. In the afternoon hours, the raiders had to withdraw empty handed after their leader was killed.

After 1924, the hero of Asia Minor, General and afterwards Prime Minister Nikolaos Plastiras – coming from nearby Vounessi (Morfovouni) – settled and lived at Messenikolas for a considerable length of time.

The Messenikolitans have always taken part as freedom fighters and paid a heavy toll to the cause of freedom and independence of their country. Several have sacrificed their lives in the war for the freedom of Macedonia. The Balkan Wars, the World War I and the consequent defeat of the Greek Army in Asia Minor in 1922 took the heavy toll of thirty Messenikolitans. 

During the Greco-Italian War, on the Albanian mountains, a volunteer army captain and two other Messenikolitans fell heroically on the battlefield on 12 Nov 1940.

During the Nazi Occupation, the inhabitants of Messenikolas along with other people from the adjacent villages took an active part in the Resistance against Fascism and Nazism. The guerillas wreaked havoc in the German and Italian Forces. In retaliation in June 1943 the Italian Fascists raided the area and burnt down the villages of the area. The conquerors also killed the priest of Messenikolas and eleven more non-combatants. Six months later the village suffered a German raid. The Nazis this time killed twelve villagers and burnt down the village. After the liberation in 1944, unfortunately destruction and devastations went on during the internecine war between nationalists and socialists, when twenty-eight Messenikolitans of both sides lost their lives.

During this period the army evacuated all the residents of the village and moved them to the nearby town of Metropolis. This compulsory evacuation that coincided with the infection of the vine crops from diseases, as well as the tendency of urbanization that followed reduced the population not only of Messenikolas but of the other villages, as well.





The recovery of the village started in the 1970’s when a great number of young people stayed in the village. During the last decades the village went through an unusual construction of residences, which are used either as homes or as country houses or even as guest houses. The registered high quality vintage wine Messenikolas Black opens new perspectives to the development of the village today.

Public buildings constructed in the post war period are:

1) The stone building that houses the Primary School.

2) The building at the top of village that houses the High School (Gymnasium).

3) The three-story edifice that houses the municipal guesthouse, the Cultural Center – Library and the restaurant cum cafeteria premises on the ground floor (courtesy of the Athens Messenikolitans Club).

4) The outdoor recreation center and the installations for the Wine Festival venue, set in idyllic surroundings.

5) The two-story modern building for the Town Hall and the Country Surgery.

6) The three-story edifice housing the Vineyard and Wine Museum.

Right in the middle of the village, surrounded by cobbled little piazzas and century old plane trees, dominates the largest and most imposing stone church of the whole district, built in 1903 – 1905, dedicated to the Assumption of Mother of God.

After the abolition of the Nevropolis Municipality in 1914, Messenikolas still remained the center of the villages in the wider area, as it continued to be the seat of several services. There used to be the so called Scholarcheion (primary cum secondary educational institute) from 1889 until 1929, when it was renamed Hemigymnasium (Junior High School) and in 1938 Five Grade Civic School. 

Until 1974 there also used to be a country court. Today the village hosts a number of Services, such as the Notary and Land Registry Office, the Post Office and the Post Savings Bank, Police Station, Country Surgery, Forestry Bureau and Veterinary Clinic, the Board for the Development of the Plastira Lake Villages – that was until 1994 – the Water Supply Board for the villages of the Municipality, and the Local Land Reclamation Organization.

In the last Municipal Reformation, the so called Kapodistrias Scheme, the village claimed the seat of the Plastiras Municipality, but the Decentralization Administration of the Home Office assigned the seat to nearby Morfovouni. Non the less, today Messenikolas is undoubtedly the most lively village in the Plastiras Municipality, demonstrating a remarkable economic activity, based mainly on viticulture and the production of the famous wines of the village.