The Battle of Lepanto took place on October 7th, 1571 when a fleet composing the “Holy League,” a coalition of southern European states, decisively defeated the majority of the Ottoman Empire’s naval forces in five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth, off western Greece. The Ottoman forces sailing westwards from their naval station in Lepanto met the Holy League forces, which had come from Messina, Sicily, where they had previously gathered.
The victory of the Holy League prevented the Ottoman Empire expanding further along the European side of the Mediterranean. Lepanto was the last major naval battle in the Mediterranean fought entirely between galleys and has been assigned great symbolic importance by Catholic and other historians. Some historians argue that a Turkish victory could have led to Western Europe being overrun.