MarketplaceLeonidion is one of the oldest maritime towns in Greece. Located 95 kilometres from Tripolis with a population of 3500, Leonidion is the capital of the region Kynourias and the last town of Southwestern Arkadia. Nestled between masses of mountains, Leonidion is located 4 kilometres from the sea on the edge of a fertile valley of fruit orchards and olive groves. Red mountains and sheer cliffs dominate Leonidion with their imposing presence.

Leonidion is the capital of Tsakonia. Tsakonians are descendents issuing from Laconians who speak their own dialect, the Tsakonian dialect is a corrupted form of ancient Doric. The Tsakonian dialect is considered the oldest dialect in the world. A proud people, Tsakonians have distinguished themselves throughout history by displaying an unconquerable spirit and prudent habits. They have their own folk traditions, customs, songs and dances. Unique among musical rhythms, the ancient Tsakonian rhythm is characterized by magnificent pagan dances where locals dance in a tight and strict manner. The following are the regions with Tsakonian populations: Leonidion, Tiros, Sapounakeika, Melana, Agios Andreas, Pragmatefti, Livadi, Sambatiki, Prastos, Sitaina, and Kastanitsa.

Tsikaliotis mansionPresent-day Tsakonian population is estimated to be approximately 10,000 to 12,000 people. The Tsakonian dialect although threatened and slowly disappearing, is still widespread in the region. It is primarily spoken by the elderly inhabitants of Leonidion and other Tsakonian towns in Kynouria. According to local inhabitants, Tsakonian is spoken, with degrees ranging from adequate to excellent proficiency by approximately 2000. In fact, until 1997 the Tsakonian language was taught by local teachers at the High School in Tiros.

House in LeonidioLeonidion and the surrounding region is characterized by scenic local architecture, unique to Arkadia. Typical examples may be found in the marketplace at the centre of town where the main road is dotted with magnificent structures and beautiful aristocratic manors. With their impressive entranceways, beautiful courtyards, characteristic interior colours, whitewash and plasters and distinct interior dιcor these mansions are truly opulent. Some of these homes are constructed in the shape of a tower. Distinct among this type of structure is the Tsikaliotis mansion. Built during the period of the Turkish occupation, this tower is among the oldest structures in the Peloponesse. The interior contains beautiful wooden casings and an enormous fireplace. It is undergoing restoration and is planned to house a museum. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of funds, restoration activities have been stalled and the mansion remains in a semi-complete state. Despite this setback, the mansion has been home to several exhibits and cultural events (TsiknoPempti – Pancake Day celebrations). Α local product of the region is the famous in Greece aubergine, which is the most sweet of the other varieties. (Tsakoniki Aubergine of Leonidas). A characteristic local custom is the small aerostats made in Easter.

Close to Leonidion is Plaka, the picturesque port of Leonidion. Plaka has a long and beautiful beach. At the same location the ancient port of Leonidion was located.  Near the road leading from Leonidion to Plaka the ruins of the ancient town Vrasies are located. 

5 km south from Plaka the picturesque village Poulithra   is located.

Tsakonian rhythm and dance

The aerostat of Leonidio

Site "Leonidio"  by P. Bekyros

Tsakonian rhythm
Τσακώνικος σκοπός

Easter and aerostats in Leonidion

Tsakonian songs

by K. Zarokosta (Calgary, Canada)

Photos from Leonidio, p. 1-9

Map of Arcadia

Guide to Arcadia