The Municipal Railway Park of Kalamata is an outdoors museum of great interest, for the added reason that it is the only one of its kind in Greece. Its plan had already been completed by 1986, the destructive earthquake of that year, however, set its opening a few years back. The Park is very close to the city centre and takes up a total expanse of 54 acres.
Here the visitor will find a plethora of railway exhibits, which were kindly provided mainly by the Hellenic Railways Organisation. The area has a lot of green, making it an ideal recreation park, with sports facilities, a playground and refreshment room.
Despite the fact that in the past the Railway Park was a very popular destination for young and old alike, today it looks almost abandoned, which means that it doesn’t attract as many visitors. From time to time new plans arise for its maintenance and further utilization, the realization of which would be a great occasion for the surrounding area.
Amongst the various interesting museums that can be found in the city of Kalamata, the visitor will come across one that is very different: this is the Municipal Railway Park of Kalamata, an open-air museum, very close to the city’s central square; one of a kind in Greece and especially interesting.
This Municipal Park was created in 1986 at the initiative of the mayor at the time, Stavros Benos. It was inaugurated during that year, but was completed four years later, owing to the disastrous earthquake that struck the city in the September of 1986, putting a stop to any building activity. The Railways Organization of Greece (OSE) gave the city 24,600 square metres for the creation of the park, which included the two-storey building of the old “Kalamata Port” station, OSE land formerly used as coal storehouses, and a water tower. The municipality of Kalamata gave 28,000 square metres, while Agrotiki Bank gave 1,400 square metres.
The main idea of the park is that it should operate as a railway museum, and it therefore contains a multitude of railway exhibits, mainly coming from the OSE. In addition to these exhibits, the park also operates as a recreational park, with basketball and volleyball courts, two playgrounds, a small lake, as well as a canteen operating on the ground floor of the renovated “Kalamata Port” station. Thus it is also a recreational park in general, which once served as a green haven in the middle of the city of Kalamata. During the first days of its operation, in fact, a few days before the earthquake, it was visited by so many people in the evenings who would go there to take a stroll, that many lives were saved, as the earthquake found them there, and not inside a building that collapsed.
The railway exhibits are dispersed over various points inside the park. They include several cargo cars, steam cars, vehicle cars, passenger cars and wagons. One of the most noteworthy a visitor can see is a Baume Marpent wooden ISAP locomotive, dating to 1914; a rare exhibit, as very few of this type are left in Greece.
Unfortunately, the remarkable exhibits and the recreational spaces of the park have been abandoned for quite some time now, with efforts made over the years for their upkeep, which however have remained unfinished. With the appropriate maintenance and care, this open-air museum could again play the leading role befitting it among the museums of the region, and could become again a favourite destination for locals and visitors from other cities.