History of Arcadia


Medieval map of ArcadiaArcadia is an area of the central Peloponnese, both mountainous and fertile. It had been the homeland of the Pelasgians and was later inhabited by Dorians. At the same time Arcadia was since antiquity the archetypal rustic area of Greece and by this fact an area strongly involved in the Greek Mythology. Ancient Arcadia is mostly known as the home of the god Pan and several arcadian nymphes and setting for much pastoral literature .

Leading ancient cities were Tegea, Mantinea and Megalopolis (founded in the 360s BC). Ancient Arcadian cities had many colonies, as in Cyprous (Pafos) and Italy (Rome), Minor Asia (Pergamus), Pontos (Trapezounta) etc. Arcadians sided against Sparta, with they had always been at odds.

The League of the Arcadians was founded, against Sparta, in Megalopolis on 369 B.C. by the Theban general and politician Epameinondas. After the 362 BC Battle of Mantineia and the death of Epameinondas, Arcadia joined the Commonwealth of Achaia. Under Roman Rule, it began to decline and was subsequently deserted after raids by Alarichos and the Slavs. Franks came in the 12th Century, and it was later overrun by the Turks in 1458.

Arcadia was the site of major and decisive battles during the War of Independence of 1821 against the Turcs. At 23 September 1821, general Theodoros Kolokotronis led Greek rebels to conquer and liberate Tripoli. It was a decisive fact  for the progress and the final success of the revolution.

Tripolis, capital of Arcadia, was reconstructed after its destruction carried out by pasha Ibrahim in 1827. From the beginning of the revolution against the Turkish regime, Tripoli was the first key point for the Greeks in their fight against the Turks, arriving to release it in September of 1821. During the War for Independence, it had a very importnant roll  and suffered many calamities, including the bombing of Ibrahim.

Tripolis constitutes the knot of communication between the localities of all the Peloponesos. It is an excellent departure point to know all the region, rich in places of archaelogical interest, and   picturesque villages and towns with their own and unmistakable colors, constructed on a wonderful montainous terrain. Tripolis belongs to the province of Mantinia, that   has inherited the name of the old city and its area. In their closed valley, several cities of the Arcadian world grew of north to the south: Kafies, Orhomenos, Nestani, Mantineia, Tegea, Palladio, Asea.

Starting off for the N., we find after 14 km, the picturesque town of Nestani, constructed on the ruins of the old city, that was one of the 5 municipalities of Mantineia. To a height of 640m. we will find the Monastery of the Gorgoepikoou where religious treasures of century X are conserved.

The old city of Mantineia is 13 km to the north of Tripolis. Named "erateini Mantinei" by Homer, it was constituted by 5 municipalities, near the small hill, of the today, Gkortsouli. In the historic period, these 5 municipalities were constructed in the plain where today their ruins are located. Ally of the Athenians and the Spartans, Mantineia suffered massive destruction. The Mantineia, which is cited by Homer in its Iliada, is considered as a very old city. In the early years of the IV century A.C., its inhabitants were unified to a common scheme that was tributary to Argos. In the Medic wars, the Mantinians fought in Thermopiles, whereas in the Peloponnesean War the Spartans and the Athenians allied first.

The region of Ancient Tegea is located at the east side of the central valey of Arcadia (today known as Mantineia valey) close to the city of Mantineia, on the road to Sparta. Ancient Tegea, an important arcadian city in ancient times, was constituted by 9 municipalities. From the middle of the 6th cent. B.C. until the Spartan defeat at the battle of Leuctra (371 B.C.), it was dominated by Sparta. In 362 B.C. Tegea allied with its rival, Mantinea, against Sparta, but later it again opposed Mantinea. At Tegea there are remains of the temple of Athena Alea, which was rebuilt (c.370-355 B.C.). Its architect and sculptor was Scopas from Paros, comtemporary of Praxiteles.

Links related to Arcadia's history

Pausanias in Arcadia


Last updated: 20/06/2006

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