Travel guide

Sightseeing in Arkadia


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Sightseeing in Arkadia

 

 

Castle of Mouchli 

Heading from Tripoli to Argolida on the right and 4 km away from Ahladocambos there is one of the biggest castles in the Peloponnese, the Castle of Mouchli. It was one of the most important cultural and military centres of the byzantine army. Unfortunately nowadays there are only ruins left.

 

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Castle of Acova

To the east of Vyziki in Arcadia and near the hill of Tropaion there are the ruins of the Castle of Acova. The castle was built by Geoffrey of Villehardouin who also founded the 11 baronies in the Peloponnese. Apart from the ruins of the castle, some parts of the outside yard have also been preserved and so has a semi-ruined square tower to the southwest. The castle is also known as Castle of Monovyza or Castle of the Amazon because according to the legend the castle was protected by the Amazon daughter of Villehardouin, who had one breast and defended the castle with great bravery sacrificing herself in the process.

 

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Castle of Karytaina

Approximately 600 metres over Karytaina there is the Castle of Karytaina that overlooks the valley of Alfeios River. This Frankish castle was built in the 13th century by the French ruler Geoffrey of Briel. Later on, Theodoros Kolokotronis lived in the castle and used it as a base. In 1826 he also repaired the damage that had been caused to the building. It was built on a very strategic location on the hill since it is ideal for watching over the area from far away. From the castle one can see the whole plain of Megalopoli and the gorge of Lucius. Inside the castle there are now ruins but on the outside it is in a pretty good condition.

 

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Castle of Paralio Astros

On the hill Nissi there is the Frankish Castle of Paralio Astros. It is a medieval fort, which was an important defensive complex during the war. Near the castle there is the plain of Geneon, as it is also mentioned by Pausanias. A battle between the Argives and the Lacedaemonians took place in this area in 546 B.C. and the goal was to take over the area of Kynouria. This battle is known as the battle of Thyrea. You can visit the castle throughout the year. There are various buildings and constructions but we do not know what they were used for. Among these buildings there are three houses that the brothers of the Zafeiropoulos family built when they came back from abroad with the aim of helping the Greek Revolution. The castle is currently being repaired and it can be visited throughout the year so that the visitors can enjoy the wonderful view of the surrounding area.

 

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Monastery of Metamorphosis Sotiros (in Loukou)

The Monastery of Metamorphosis Sotiros or otherwise known as the Monastery of Loukou is situated near Astros and Kato Doliana. It was built in 1117 over the ruins of a temple dating back to 5th century A.D. It significantly contributed during the Turkish rule and it sustained a lot of damage during that period. It also sustained a great deal of damage in 1826 during a fire set by Ibrahim.
The monastery has a very interesting library (codices, manuscripts, Patriarchal sigillia etc.) and it also has a workshop for making icons and carpets.

 

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Church of the Dormition of the Virgin in Tegea

The Church of the Dormition of the Virgin is located seven kilometres away from Tripoli, in the middle of the park of the Tegean Association in the diocese of Tegea. It is a byzantine church that was built between the 10th and 12th century.
The church is situated inside the archaeological site. It must have been built over the ruins of the ancient theatre of Tegea; and material from the theatre itself and from other nearby buildings (early Christian churches, medieval wall etc.) was used to construct it. It is a cross-in-square type of church with five domes. The building combines the ancient, the byzantine and the contemporary element.

 

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Monastery of Epano Chrepa

The Monastery of Epano Chrepa is situated 10 km away from Tripoli. It is built in an idyllic location at an altitude of 1,280 metres. During the Greek Revolution it was used as a shelter and a base for the klephts and the armatoles due to its covered position. It is a late byzantine building and it is devoted to Panagia Epanochrepitissa. It is a female monastery and it is part of a beautiful complex that underwent many changes in the course of time due to its important contribution to the Greek Revolution.

 

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Monastery of Malevi

The Monastery of Malevi is situated at Kanali on Mount Malevos (Parnon). It was originally built in 717 A.D. and it was abandoned due to difficult living conditions as in one year all the monks died. It was, therefore, transferred to a new, lower location by the monk Joseph Karatza in 1116 A.D.

 

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Church of Saint Theodora

One of the most popular sights in Arcadia is the church of Saint Theodora, which is near the village Vasta in Megalopoli. It was built in the 12th century and it has been characterized as “a miracle of nature”. On its roof there are 17 trees, whose roots travel through the walls of the church so as to reach the ground. Thousands of Christians and nature lovers come to admire this church every year and to witness this unique miracle.

 

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Monastery of Prodromos

The Monastery of Saint Ioannis Prodromos is situated in the gorge of Lucius River in the area of the historic villages of Stemnitsa and Dimitsana. It was founded in the mid 16th century. There used to be a lot of hermitages in this area and all of them were united into the Monastery of Prodromos.
During the Greek Revolution the Monastery served as a shelter and a hospital for the fighters. The monastery attracts many visitors every year who decide to visit it not only for religious reasons but also because they love nature and they want to admire the majestic landscape that surrounds it.

 

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Monastery of the Dormition of the Virgin of Valtesiniko

The Monastery of the Dormition of the Virgin of Valtesiniko is situated one kilometre away from the village of Valtesiniko in Arcadia. The monastery was built in 1625 and thus, it is one of the oldest monasteries in the area. It had been repaired quite a few times before closing down in 1833 (by royal order) because it had less than six monks. It opened again in 1955 by the nuns Elisabeth and Agathe, who renovated the old buildings and constructed new ones.

 

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Monastery of Kaltezon

The Monastery of Saint Nicholas of Kaltezon is situated on a green hill in Kato Assea, about 31 km away from Tripoli. It was built in 1696. The katholikon of the monastery is devoted to Saint Nicholas, Metamorphosis of Sotiros and Prophet Elias. Over the entrance there is a marble inscription on which the Assembly of 26th May 1821 is written as the first Greek government was blessed there.

 

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Monastery of Eloni

The Monastery of Eloni is situated in the prefecture of Arcadia between Leonidio and Kosmas of Kynouria. It was built approximately in the 14th century. During the rule of the Turks the monastery went through a lot as did most monasteries of this period. The Monastery closed down in 1833 by royal order and it opened again in 1972. It is a female monastery and it attracts many Christians every year who come mostly for the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary. In the monastery there are also various valuable objects such as icons, implements, a hand-written Gospel and many holy relics.

 

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Monastery of Philosophos

The Monastery of Philosophos is situated in the prefecture of Arcadia, to the north of Dimitsana, in the gorge of Lucius River. It consists of two buildings, the original one and the new one, which are situated close to one another. The first part of the monastery was built in 963 A.D. and the new one was built in the 17th century.
It has been characterized as “a listed monument” and its maintenance and renovation works have recently began.

 

 

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Monastery of Aimyalon

The Monastery of Panagia Aimyalon is located outside Dimitsana and it has been built inside a rock. It was founded in 1608 by the monk Gregorios Kontoyiannis. The Monastery of Aimyalon significantly contributed during the rule of the Turks and during the Greek Revolution. Today the monastery hosts monks from the Monastery of Timios Prodromos but in the past it has been both a female and a male monastery.

 

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Ancient Theatre of Megalopoli

The ancient “Megali Polis” is situated three kilometers outside Megalopoli near the road that leads to Karytaina and it is considered to be one of the greatest ancient cities of Arcadia. There are also ruins of the ancient market, the Thersileion Parliament with a capacity of 16,000 people which is siutated to the north, as well as the largest and oldest theatre of the Archaic period which is located opposite the market and it was connected to the city through a bridge. The theatre was constructed by Polycleitus around 370 B.C. and it has a capacity of 20,000 people and great acoustics. Apart from theatrical plays, political events also took place there, which is the reason why it was so large. During the theatrical plays a wooden stage on wheels was pulled on stage whenever needed. It was in its heyday around the 3rd century B.C. at the same time that “Megali Polis” was flourishing. The theatre started being brought to light in the late 19th century. Research continues in the Thersileion Parliament and we expect new results. It is part of a European program financed by UNESCO with the aim of restoring it and highlighting its archaeological significance.

 

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The Villa of Herodes Atticus

One of the most important and impressive archaeological sites in Arcadia is the villa of Herodes Atticus, which is situated in Eva Dolianon, an ancient town of Kynouria. Only few parts of the villa have been preserved.
Herodes Atticus (103-179 A.D.) was a very important person in Roman times in Greece. He came from a wealthy family, which helped him occupy himself with many different things and develop many talents: rhetoric, philosophy and politics. He collected works of art and he had in his possession one of the most enviable collections of his time comprising of rare and significant works of art. Herodes, after completing his studies in Rome and Athens, lived in this villa where his rich collection was housed. In this way he created some sort of museum of ancient art that impressed everyone.
Theodoros Spyropoulos began systematic excavations in 1979, which continue up to date. The findings that have come to light are housed in the Archaeological Museums of Tripoli and Astros.
The villa of Herodes Atticus covers 20,000 square metres. It is the largest villa in Greece and it is characterized by its roman architecture. It consists of a large yard with arcades, baths and a temple. It has sustained a lot of damage in the course of time due to natural phenomena and attacks from barbarians or even due to neglect. The excavations have somehow managed to protect the area from sustaining any further damage.

 

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Archaeological Site of Ancient Gortys

Ancient Gortys is one of the most important Arcadian cities of ancient times. It remains unknown when it was founded, when it flourished and declined as we do not have enough evidence to make an estimation. However, it is generally accepted that the city flourished during the 4th century B.C. and it was probably destroyed around the 12th century.
It is situated next to Lucius River at an altitude of around 350 metres, outside the village of Atsilochos. It was one of the most important stops during the route that the Spartan athletes followed in the Olympic Games as the ancient road of Olympia-Megalopoli-Mycenae-Isthmos-Athens passed through here.
The city had two acropolises with strong fortifications that were close to one another and were situated at an altitude of 480 metres. There were a lot of temples, public buildings, a cemetery, a temple of Asclepius and two large baths. The date that ancient Gortys was founded remains unknown due to lack of evidence. Taking into consideration findings dating from the late Helladic period (1600-1100 B.C.) to the Geometric period (11th-8th century B.C.), we come to realize how old the city is. It flourished around the 4th century B.C. and it declined probably after Megali Polis had been founded in 368 B.C. It was then that Gortys, along with other nearby cities, was united with Megali Polis and lost its autonomy. In its heyday, however, it was a particularly lively city that significantly influenced anything that happened in the area throughout its history.

 

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Temple of Apollo Epicurius

The temple of Apollo Epicurius is situated in Bassae, the ancient Arcadian town of Figalia. This impressive temple is built at an altitude of 1,130 metres on Mount Kotilio and it was erected to remind us that the god helped the residents when they were in danger of a plague epidemic. The temple dates back to the second half of the 5th century B.C. and it was probably built by Iktinos, the architect of the Parthenon. It is one of the most impressive archaeological monuments not only because it is in excellent condition but also because of its unique beauty for which it was praised even in ancient times. It is of the Doric order and there are ornate sculptures on the inside. Systematic excavations began in 1812. At first, the Corinthian capital and part of the frieze, which has been on display in the British Museum since 1815, came to light. During the 20th century, a lot of excavations and archaeological works took place in this site and they helped to have a better idea of what the monument looked like. The climate and the geological conditions of the area threaten the integrity of the monument and for this reason, in 1982 the Ministry of Culture ordered that it be restored.

 

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Ancient Mantineia

The ancient city of Mantineia is situated approximately 14 km to the north of Tripoli in Paleopoli and it is one of the largest, greatest and best-preserved ancient cities. It flourished during the Archaic period and it played an important role in historic developments not only in Arcadia but in the ancient world in general. The first excavations in the area began in the late 19th century (around 1888) by the French Archaeological School. The following excavations that were undertaken in 1960 by the Archaeological Service brought to light more findings from this glorious city. The traveller Pausanias mentions this city, which he also visited around 170 A.D., and through his descriptions he helps us to identify the findings as some of the main temples and public buildings of the city. Mantineia had an impressive fortification wall, a market, a theatre dating to the Early Hellenistic period, Roman baths, a parliament, a temple of Artemis Mesopolitis and two temples that were probably devoted to Zeus and Hera. The city was very active in ancient times and this shows its great power that could be attributed to its strategic position. The city used to be called Antigonia, as it was named after the Macedonian king, and it kept this name for a few centuries until Emperor Hadrian gave it back its original name.

 

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Ancient Tegea

The ancient city of Tegea is situated next to the village Alea in Mantineia, 10 km outside Tripoli. Parts of this city came to light at the end of the previous century. Tegea was one of the most important cities in ancient Arcadia until 395 A.D., when it was abandoned due to its total destruction by the Goths.
The excavations to the present day have brought to light part of its theatre, the market, an altar for emperor worship, an early Christian basilica and parts of a byzantine settlement. In this area there is the Archaeological Museum of Tegea that has on display findings from the temple of Athena Alea, patron of Tegea. This sanctuary does not exist any more. However, it is said that part of it was used to construct the Church of Virgin Mary that is situated nearby.

 

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Ancient Theatre of Orchomenos

Ruins of Orchomenos, which is a city of ancient Arcadia, can be found 30 km away from Tripoli near the village of Levidi.
It was one of the oldest cities in the area that has been inhabited since prehistoric times. It had a large population, a significant presence and it is said that it was a particularly rich city that even minted its own coin. Orchomenos was one of the three “great powers” of the eastern Arcadia along with Tegea and Mantinea, with which it was in constant opposition. It reached its peak around the 7th and 6th century B.C. The main city is located on a hill over the plain of Levidi and Kandila in an impressive and strategic position as it allows you to look over the area from far away. The city has been excavated and it can be visited. Systematic excavations began in 1913 by G. Blum and A. Plassart, whereas from 1973 to 1976 new research was carried out. The archaeologists have found a bridge dating back to the Archaic period, a prehistoric tomb, a market, a parliament, a temple of Artemis Mesopolitis, the walls of the city and the most important of all is the ancient theatre, one of the largest theatres of the Hellenistic period with a capacity of approximately 4,000 spectators, dating back to the 3rd century B.C. This theatre is situated at an altitude of 800 metres and it has a wonderful view of the surrounding area.

 

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