Arcadia Attractions

The upland region of Arcadia, in the center of the Peloponnese, reaches its highest points in the north: Erymanthos (7,297ft/2,224m), Khelmós (7,727ft/2,355m) and Kyllíni (7,796ft/2,376m). The few areas of plain are concentrated round Trípoli and Megalópolis. The most important river is the Alfiós (Alpheios), with its tributaries: other parts of the region have no drainage to the sea, leading to the formation of bogs.

Megalopolis, Greece

The little mining town of Megalópolis lies south of the river Elisson in the center of the Peloponnese. It has suffered severe earthquake damage on several occasions.
Megalópolis was founded after the Theban general Epameinondas's victory over Sparta at Leuktra (371 B.C.), and was intended, together with Mantineia and Messene, to prevent any resurgence of Spartan power. In 353, 331 and 234 B.C. the town, peopled by settlers from the surrounding area, successfully withstood attacks from Sparta, but in 223 B.C. it was conquered and destroyed. Although it was rebuilt in 194 B.C., Pausanias, visiting the site in the A.D. second century, found only ruins. Megalópolis was the birthplace of the historian Polybios (208- 120 B.C.).
The site of the ancient city, which lies astride the river Elisson, a tributary of the Alfiós (Alpheios), was excavated by British archeologists.
Megalópolis is a station on the Peloponnese Railroad (Corinth-Kalamáta).

Archaeological Site

The remains of the ancient city of Megalopolis, which was surrounded by walls with a total extent of almost 9km/6mi, lie near the present-day town on the road to Pyrgos. Immediately south of the river is the theater, which could accommodate 50,000 spectators. The 59 tiers of seating in the semicircular auditorium are divided into wedges by two horizontal gangways and 10 staircases. The stage buildings were of wood, and could be stored in the skenotheke or property room on the west side of the stage; only in the Roman period were they replaced by stone structures.

Thersileion

Immediately north of the theater at Megalópolis is the Thersileion (so named after the donor), a huge rectangular hall measuring 66m/217ft by 52m/171ft in which Arcadian federal assembly met. The interior probably had the form of an odeion, with radially disposed Doric columns supporting the roof. On either side of the Thersileion were altars. To the west was the stadion, to the east a sanctuary of Asklepios.
On the far side of the river, opposite the Thersileion, was a large sanctuary of Zeus Soter, and beyond this the agora, bounded on the north by a stoa erected by Philip II of Macedon.

Lykosoura (Likossoura) - Sanctuary of Despoina

12km/7.5mi southwest of Megalópolis on a country road is the lonely sanctuary of the Despoina (Mistress) at Lykosoúra, with remains of a temple of the fourth century B.C. In the naos can be seen the large base of the cult image. In front of the foundations of a Doric stoa are altars dedicated to the Despoina, Demeter and Ge. In the small site museum are cult statues of the three goddesses by Damophon.

Tripoli, Greece

Trípoli, capital of Arcadia, on the central Arcadian plateau, was founded in the 14th century by settlers from Albania. During the Turkish period, under the name of Tripolitsa, it was the seat of the Pasha of the Morea. The town was captured by Kolokotronis in 1821, but was destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha in 1828. Trípoli, situated at the intersection of the principal roads through the Peloponnese, is now the center of the surrounding agricultural region.
Station on the Corinth-Kalamáta railroad line; bus connections with Athens, Corinth and Sparta.

Tripolis Panarcadic Archaeological Museum

The Tripolis Panarcadic Archeological Museum is housed in the old Panarcadic hospital, Evangelistria. The collection contains prehistoric items, findings from the Mycenaean cemetery, vases from different dates, sculptures, pottery, bronze vessels and weapons.
Address: 8 Evangelistrias Street, 22100 Trípoli, Greece

Surroundings

Tegea

At the little village of Tegéa, 8km/5mi southeast of Trípoli, is a sanctuary of Athena Alea.
Tegéa, until 560 B.C. a center of resistance to Sparta, was described by Pausanias in the A.D. second century as a flourishing city, but in A.D. 395 was destroyed by Alaric. Later the Crusaders built the town of Nikli nearby.
According to the myth Tegéa was founded by Aleos, whose daughter Auge conceived Telephos after being raped by Herakles. Telephos travelled to Mysia in Asia, defeated the Trojans at the river Kaikos before the Trojan War and was later revered by the royal house of Pergamon as their ancestor (frieze on Pergamon Altar).
Tegéa was the birthplace of Atalanta, who received the skin of the Calydonian boar from Meleagros.

Temple of Athena

On the site of an earlier Archaic building at Tegea, destroyed by fire in 395 B.C., Skopas erected between 350 and 340 B.C. a new temple, which was decorated with his own sculpture. In this temple, the first in the Peloponnese entirely built of marble, Skopas retained the older elongated ground-plan with 6 x 14 columns. In the naos he departed from the regular practice of dividing it into three aisles by two rows of columns and instead set Corinthian half-columns against the interior walls so as to achieve an effect of space and magnificence. He thus carried a stage further the trend towards giving increased emphasis to the interior which Iktinos had begun in the Parthenon and continued at Bassai.
On the east pediment was a representation of the hunt for the Calydonian boar, whose skin was preserved in the temple; the west pediment showed Telephos in the battle on the river Kaikos. Ramps at the east end and on the north side show that the temple could be entered either from the east or the north. The only surviving remains of the temple are the foundations and a few columns and capitals.
The most impressive ruin is the fourth century B.C. Doric temple of Athena Aleá, which are the Peloponnese's second largest, after Olympia's Temple of Zeus.

Tegea Archaeological Museum

The Tegea Museum near the Temple of Athena at Tegai exhibits finds from the site. In the entrance hall is a marble throne from the ancient theater, in the left-hand room are elements from the temple and sculpture by Skopas, in the right-hand room a statue of Demeter, a head of Asklepios, a funerary stele and a Roman sarcophagus with a representation of Achilles and Hector at Troy; in the rear room are finds from Tegéa and Assia (bronzes, pottery, etc.).

Karitaina, Greece

This Arcadian village is impressively situated in the gorge of the river Alfiós (Alpheios), 16km/10mi northwest of Megalópolis on the road to Andrítsaina (from which a secondary road runs south to Bassai).

Castle

Above the village of Karítaina towers a Frankish castle (alt. 583m/1,969ft) built by Hugues de Bruyère, baron of Karítaina, in the 13th century. A monument on the hillside commemorates Theodoros Kolokotronis, a hero of the war of liberation, who defended the castle against the Turks in 1821. From the castle gate can be seen a medieval bridge spanning the Alfiós below the modern concrete bridge.

Surroundings

Bassai and the Temple of Apollo

The best way to approach Bassai is from Trípoli by way of Megalópolis and Karítaina; an alternative route is from Pyrgos via Kréstena (south of the river Alfiós) to Andrítsaina and Bassai.
The Temple of Apollo Epikouriios stands on a remote site (1,130m/3,708ft) on the slopes of Mt Lykaion, 14km/9mi from the village of Andrítsaina, from which a road ascends to within a short distance of the site. Rediscovered in 1763, the temple has since then largely been re-erected. According to Pausanias, who regarded it as "second only to the temple at Tegéa for the beauty of its stone and its exact proportions", it was built by Iktinos, the architect of the Parthenon, as a thank-offering by the city of Phigaleia for being spared from the plague of 429 B.C. to which Perikles fell a victim in Athens.

Bassai - Temple of Apollo

The temple of Apollo at Bassai shows some unusual features. The column ratio (six by 15) follows the Archaic pattern rather than the classical norm of six by 13, and the temple is oriented not to the east but to the north, though it has a doorway in the east wall of the naos. While the external columns are Doric the naos has two rows of Ionic columns - not free-standing but set close to the walls and engaged in projecting buttresses. A frieze (now in the British Museum) ran round the walls of the naos above the columns, a departure from the previously normal practice of having the frieze on the external walls. Iktinos thus showed himself, in Gruben's words, "a leader of the avant-garde in architecture", carrying a stage farther the trend towards increased emphasis on the interior of the temple which is already evident in the Parthenon. At the far end of the naos, at the entrance to the adyton in which the cult image of the god was housed, there originally stood a column with a Corinthian capital - the earliest known use of this type. The capital was present when the temple was examined by Haller von Hallerstein in 1811 but subsequently disappeared and is known to us only from his drawing. The adyton must have served some unknown cult purpose. With this separate holy of holies within the naos, with its elongated ground-plan and its six by 15 columns, this temple of Apollo is reminiscent of the temple in the central sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, which Iktinos reproduced here, reducing it in size by exactly a third.

Phigaleia

It is a two and a half hours' walk from Bassai to Figalía, with the remains of ancient Phigaleia, continuing to the Néda gorge.

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