Garden of the Heroes
Garden of the Heroes information
Just beyond the Gate of Exodus is the Garden of Heroes, translated incorrectly as ‘Heroes’ Tombs’ on the road sign. This memorial garden was established by the first governor of Greece following independence, Ioannis Kapodistrias, who issued the following decree (the Greek text of which is on the marble slab to the right as you enter the garden):
'…within these walls of the city of Messolongi lie the bones of those brave men, who fell bravely while defending the city…it is our duty to gather together, with reverence, the holy remains of these men and to lay them to rest in a memorial where our country may, each year, repay its debt of gratitude.'
A statue of Lord Byron features prominently in the garden. When Byron died, the Greeks were heartbroken at the loss of a British nobleman who had given his life for their freedom. At the end of a national 21-day mourning period, Byron’s embalmed body was returned to England, but his heart was kept by the Greeks and is buried beneath the statue. The English authorities at the time refused Byron’s burial at Westminster Abbey.