Welcome to Arcadia, the heart of Peloponnese that provides some of the most amazing landscapes across the country, along with numerous archaeological sights, monasteries, long beaches, mountains, rivers and gorges, is ideal for exploration.
Visit the capital city of Tripolis to reach the archaeological sites of Tegaea and Mantineia with ancient theatres and museums, or walk along the traditional villages scattered around the area with a proud history of fighting against the Turks up to 1821, such as Stemnitsa and Dimistana. Although Arcadian coastline is limited compared to the other prefectures of Peloponnese, seaside villages like Astros and Plaka with their charming little ports offer long beaches and some of the most ideal sailing destinations in the area. Traditional settlements and boutique hotels across the area offer high standard accommodation offering high quality services with marvellous views of the surrounding area.
Arcadia is a place to visit throughout the year with ski centres at its huge mountains with high peaks, forests and flourishing vegetation, ideal for outdoor activities such as trekking, hiking, rafting, mountain climbing and horse riding as well as wonderful long beaches along its coastline. Religious tourism and archaeological tourism also find their place here with countless archaeological sites, churches and monasteries of historical importance; Arcadia is the ideal destination to have a picture of the real traditional, often untouched Greece.
As Arcadia lies in the centre of Peloponnese, it can be accessed by road as there is no airport in the area, while the railway line of the area is currently under construction. Regular bus services connect its capital city Tripoli with Athens, Thessaloniki as well as major cities of Peloponnese. However the most convenient way to explore the area is by renting a car in order to reach the remote and picturesque villages and discover at one's own pace the magic natural beauties of its mountains and coast.
First and foremost visitors of Arcadia cannot miss paying a visit at its traditional old villages. Dimitsana as the hub of all trekking and hiking trails around the area while being a traditional settlement situated on steep hills. The unique architecture of the village with the lovely soft-colored stone houses and tiled roofs is a trip back in time. Being a major attraction in the area, Dimitsana has all the infustucture to accommodate, cater and enterntain its visitors at traditional butique hotels, traditional taverns and restaurants as well as cafes and bars. Once being at Dimitsana, it is worth a visit at the Open Air Water-Power Museum. This thematic museum highlights the importance of hydraulic power in traditional societies, which presents the basic pre-industrial techniques using water as their main source of energy to produce various goods.
Stemnitsa is another beautiful town of Arcadia amid a forest of fir and chestnut trees to offer phenomenal view of the area especially at night when the village lies beneath of canopy of bright stars. Stemnitsa has a long history being the center of rebels against the Turkish occupancy, actually becoming the capital city of the country for a few weeks time during the beginning of the War of Independence. At the central lively town square lays the bell tower of Agios Giorgios and at the hot of the nearby hill is a monument of honour the 1821 fighters. Likewise the village was one of the Balkans' best-known metalworking centres, a tradition that lasts to present with the public Silver-Gold-Smithery School. Moreover a folklore museum offers a journey to traditional methods of candle making, a jewelry workshop, a shoe repair shop along with a copper tinning representation, while exhibiting an extensive selection of Byzantine icons, old costumes, copper- ware, guns and jewelry.
At the coastline of Arcadia, one of the most attractive destinations is Leonidio, a town emerging from a spectacular landscape, bound by two abrupt mountainsides enclosing the town from the north and south. The town is crossed by the River Dafnon and its banks linked with three bridges, offering striking and picturesque architecture of the old mansions. Based at the Tsakonia area and being its capital city, Leonidion stands out for its cultural and linguistic particularities, also organizing the celebration of the Tsakonian aubergine with traditional cooking contest attracting famous chefs. The port of the town is Plaka, a picturesque little fishing village just 4 km away, as a great stopover for sailing boats, having a long beach, traditional taverns and bars. Finally Astros is a picturesque village in islander's style, built amphitheatrically facing a peninsula which top houses an Acropolis and its ancient walls while its Archaeological Museum exhibits findings from the villa of Herodes Attikos. The white houses of the village are spread near a clear beach 8 km. long, while in Paralio visitors can find an open air theatre during summertime where cultural and artistic festivities take place.
SIGHTSEEING & MONUMENTS
Sightseeing in Arcadia can be a never ending process due to the plethora of the archaeological sites and the historical monuments around the area. However, the most popular ones worth a visit especially when being close to the city of Tripolis are the archaeological sites of Tegaea and Mantineia. In Tegaea visitors can discover relics of the agora, altars and a Hellenistic Theatre, along with the Arheological Museum where excavated artefacts dating back to the Hellenistic, Geometrical, Archaic Era are exhibited. Mantineia on the other hand houses bath complexes and the parliament, all dating back to the Hellenistic and Roman times, as well as parts of Byzantine settlements and mosaics preserved in churches. For those whishing to take a closer glimpse of ancient Greek history should visit the ancient cities of Megalopolis and Lycosoura with a myriad of remains. Additionally the War Museum is separated in sections to refer to the various eras of war that the Greek nation went through. At Eva settlement in Astros visitors can find the luxurious mansion of Herodes Atticus with exquisite sculptures beautiful statues and mosaics with intricate shapes. In Karitena is a well preserved castle, an excellent sample of the French architecture, close by the monumental bridge of Alfeios River.
Amongst the several churches and monasteries scattered around Arcadia two of them stand out for their historic significance and unique architecture. The Monastery of Timios Prodromos located in Gortynia in the gorge of River Loussios, about
200 meters above the river bed right on the crag. Accessed by car from the villages of Dimitsana or after walking through the mountains, the visitors initially reach the old Monastery of Philosophos, known as Krifo Scholio, a Secret School during the Turkish occupancy founded in the 17th century. The newer version of the monastery is at the area of Metamorphosis said to be founded in 1167 A.D consisting of a complex of several buildings other than the main church, the church of Aghios Athanasios, which is nowadays a workshop of hagiography, the chapels of Metamorphosis Sotiros and Hypapante, as well as the water mills and the olive oil press.
THINGS TO DO
Superb landscapes with mountains, rivers, lakes and gorges are ideal for a number of outdoor activities to impress even the most experienced outdoor activists. The Plateau of Ostrakina and the ski center of Mainalo at an altitude of 1600m, is a modern fully
equipped ski center and mountain lodge to offer some of the best ski slopes in Greece, attracting sports fans from Peloponnese and Athens during the winter period. The river Lousios is top destination for rafting enthusiasts, being the most popular in Greece with crystal clear waters and spectacular densely vegetation, while passing through a gorge and the spectacular bridge of Koukos.
Rafting here is not only fun and exercise, but also a chance of discovering the hidden natural paradise of the area. The prefecture of Arcadia is also well known for its trekking, hiking and biking trails to offer a trip to nature along with history. Several trails through the most striking villages of the area, along the dense vegetation across river Lousios, monasteries, Byzantine churches, Frankish forts, ancient cities and stone bridges are only some of the spectacular sight to come across while exploring the area. On top of that the area is ideal for canyoning, off-roading and bird watching as well as horse riding.
Arcadia is blessed with fertile soil where its lands and orchards are cultivated to produce a series of fresh fruits, herbs, nuts and vegetables such as the delicious Tsakonian egg-plants at the area of Leonidio. Olive products and extra virgin olive oil are highly produced along with honey of exquisite taste and aroma. Madineia wine, dairy products, traditional hand-made pasta and sweets, fresh chestnuts and walnuts, aromatic herbs from the local mountains, such as tea, oregano, thyme and lots more, are only some of the plentiful local delicacies worth tasting.
USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS
Arcadia Railway Services: +30 2710 241696
Arcadia Bus Services: +30 2710 224314
Tripoli Police: +30 2710 230541
Tripoli General Hospital: +30 2710 371700
Ski Center of Mainalon: +30 27960 22211