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ARCADIA

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General Information

This most ancient land has always been the living heart of the Peloponnese, the land of the Arcadian people, whom most describe as a population that has been living here for millennia, enduring the passage of time, suffering frequent invasions and lasting conquests, and absorbing endless waves of immigrants and settlers. Throughout their turbulent history, these people managed to keep their spirit and their integrity, and became the protagonists of the uprising which freed the Greek nation after long centuries of foreign domination. Its forested mountains were the home of the ancient god Pan, whose half-goat appearance presents a striking difference with all the other Greek gods and obviously echoes a much older tradition, lost deep into the reaches of time to early Pagan worship. The crystal waters of its coastline, the broad, fertile plateau in the region of Tripoli, the beauteous Mount Menalon with the everlasting, dense forest, as well as the numerous historical and archaeological sites of the prefecture, compose a set of attractions few visitors can resist. Among the many favorite destinations in Greece, there are the resorts of Vytina, Stemnitsa, Kosmas, Paralio Astros, Tiros, and Leonidio, the historical villages of Dimitsana, Astros, and the entire region around Tripolis, and the ancient cities of Tegea, Karytena, Mantineia, Orhomenos, Megalopolis, and Eva Kynouria. Arcadia borders to the north with Corinthia and Achaia, to the west with Ilia, to the south with Messinia and Laconia, to the east and northeast with Argolida and the Argolic gulf and the Myrtoan Sea. A large but not thickly populated prefecture, its population reaches 105000 residents, while its extent covers 4420 sq.km.    

 

History - Culture

The original settlers of the region, people of the Pelasgian and the Arcadian tribes, are considered to be the most ancient inhabitants of the Peloponnese. Civilized since the early Neolithic Age, they entered classical antiquity with a Greek dialect spoken long before the arrival of well-known Greek tribes such as the Ionians, the Achaeans and the Dorians, and even today, there are people living in Arcadia who claim to be speaking this same language. The concepts of Democratic leadership and government existed in this region long before Athenians perfected it with the development of complex democratic institutions, most of which survive to this day. Arcadians lived in many small hamlets and never built cities to match those found in other parts of ancient Greece. They were renowned warriors, and many sons of Arcadia left the hard soil of their homeland to seek their fortune as mercenaries abroad; the best force of Egypt was Greek mercenaries from Arcadia, as was the force that Cyrus used to challenge his brother Xerxes for the throne of the Persian Empire. It is traditionally known as the homeland of the ancient god Pan, and the principal deities of the region were Hermes, Pan and Despina (a form of the godess Demeter). Many bronze figurines of the 6th century BC represent shepherds, thus depicting the most frequent occupation of the local populace. As Dorians arrived to the scene from the north, the Arcadians resisted tenaciously, often joining forces to face their warlike opponents. The major cities of ancient Arcadia were Mantineia, Tegea, Orhomenos, and ?later on- Megalopolis. In 418 BC, the Spartans defeated the people of Arcadia in the battle of Mantineia, and gained control over the region, which they lost in turn after their defeat from Epaminondas, the great Theban general who was mortally wounded in his final, decisive victory of this war. Macedonian rule came with the rise of northern Greece into dominance and the Hellenistic Age, which was followed by Roman conquest in 146 BC. As Rome lost its power and the Byzantine Empire that came into its succession was unable to muster armies able to protect the region, a long period of suffering began, as continuous barbarian invasions ?mainly by the Avars of Alaric and Slavs- all but decimated the local populace. This continued until the time of Frankish domination 1205, which was followed by the coming of the Turks in 1458. During their time, Tripolis developed into the commercial and political center of the entire Peloponnese, while the population recovered from a state of endless warfare. During the Greek War of Independence, leading figures of the fight achieved great victories against the Turks on Arcadian territory and, after suffering many violent attacks, the region was finally liberated with the assistance of French troops in 1828. All through the struggle, Arcadia was the beating heart of the revolution, being the greatest source of manpower and of gunpowder, produced in the mountainous village of Dimitsana.

 

Sights

Visitors attempting to see the sights of this prefecture are definitely in for a long tour. They can begin with the Byzantine church of Aghios Vassilios in Tripolis, the modern Cathedral, and the house of Kostas Karyotakis, a celebrated Greek poet. The ruins of ancient Asea, Mantineia and Tegea, major cities of antiquity, can be seen on the outskirts of the capital city of Tripolis. The picturesque mountainous village of Vytina, with the renowned wood-engravers, is a sight in itself, and has been attracting guests long before tourism became a popular recreational activity. The beautiful traditional settlement of Dimitsana stands over Loussios River, while awe-inspiring monasteries of Philosophos and of Aghios Ioannis Prodromos cling to the rocks over the river amid landscapes of green and dreamy springs to form an idyllic natural setting with impressive monuments. Here in Dimitsana, surrounded by this breathtaking natural environment, there is also the -unique in its kind- Water Museum, where beautifully restored buildings represent the traditional way of operation of water-driven flour mills and powder mills. The site of ancient Gortyna lies nearby. Stemnitsa is also a captivating traditional settlement with the springs of the river Loussios at a close distance. In Karytena, a most impressive castle on top of the hill can be visited as well as the arched bridge of Alfios River. Besides, Libovitsi, the birthplace of Theodoros Kolokotronis, a leading figure of the Greek War of Independence, is worth visiting. In Issaris, the church of Aghia Theodora (9th century) with 17 huge trees emerging from its roof is another unique sight. Close to Levidi, there is the site of ancient Orhomenos and a tomb and a city of the Neolithic Age, while another major ancient site, Lykosoura, lies 15km from Megalopolis. The Nymphs and the forgotten deities of this ancient land still put their spells on visitors driving through the fir-clad roads of Mount Menalon or journeying along the stream of Ladonas River or following the fascinating route to the Mount Parnon Plateau, enchanting them and forcing them to extend their visit as long as possible.

 

Entertainment-Sports-Shopping

Regardless of the season, Arcadia is a popular destination due to its beautiful mountainous villages and its crystal clear beaches. The accommodation and entertainment facilities in Tripolis and Megalopolis and in resort-villages such as Astros, Vytina, Dimitsana, Stemnitsa and Tyros Beach are excellent, interwoven with the traditional way of life that identifies the area. The local market and shopping places ?with the exception of Tripolis- may be small but they are well supplied. Traditional and natural products of top quality are offered everywhere. Arcadia is an ideal place for buying home made pasta, herbs, walnuts, honey, dairy products and sweets while visitors should definitely try "stifado" (a dish based on lamb), local cheese and yoghurt, wine from Mantineia, and garlic. Water sports facilities are available on the popular beaches of Astros and Tyros, while two ski resorts are open in the winter. Trekking across the paths where Pan and the Nymphs once roamed should be an experience one could not afford to miss.

 

Access

There is frequent bus service from Athens to Tripolis, Megalopolis and Leonidio. Trains depart from Athens and Piraeus to Tripolis, buy this is a journey with too many intermediate stops.

 

Connections

Buses from Athens link Tripolis, Argos, Corinth, Sparta, Kalamata. There is local bus connection with Sparta, Kalamata, Pyrgos, Patra. Trains from Athens link Tripolis, Kalamata and Pyrgos. Flying dolphins from Piraeus-Zea link Leonidio, Kyparissi, Porto Heli, Spetses, Hydra, Monemvasia, Neapolis, Kythira. 

 

Museums

There are archaeological museums in Tripolis and in Alea. Interesting archaeological collections are also exhibited in the small museums of Astros and Megalopolis. In Dimitsana, in addition to the Museum of Water Power and its use, there is a rich Library housing rare publications, a historical archive, and an archaeological and folk art collection.

 

Alternative Tourism

Ecotourism, cultural, congressional, sporting (rafting, kayak, trekking, rappel, mountain climbing, ski, water sports).

 

Useful Telephone Numbers:

TRIPOLI AREA CODE:  2710-

POLICE STATION: 2710-230548

MUNICIPALITY: 2710-222235

POST OFFICE: 2710-224128

TELECOMMUNICATIONS ORG.: 2710-770206

TAXI STATION: 2710-226220

RADIO TAXI STATION: 2710-233121

 

 

 

Photo Gallery
PELOPONESE ARCADIAPELOPONESE ARCADIAPELOPONESE ARCADIAPELOPONESE ARCADIA
PELOPONESE ARCADIAPELOPONESE ARCADIAPELOPONESE ARCADIAPELOPONESE ARCADIA
PELOPONESE ARCADIAPELOPONESE ARCADIAPELOPONESE ARCADIAPELOPONESE ARCADIA
PELOPONESE ARCADIAPELOPONESE ARCADIAPELOPONESE ARCADIAPELOPONESE ARCADIA
PELOPONESE ARCADIA
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