Tripoli is the largest Local Authority of Arcadia and is made up of 8 Municipal Districts: Phalanthos, Tripoli, Tegea, Skiritida, Mantineia, Levidi, Korythi and Valtetsi. To its east, it borders Argolida (NE) and Kynouria (SE), to its south with Lakonia, west with the Local Authority of Megalopoli (SW) and Gortynia (NW) and north with Axaia(at the height of Daras) and Korinthia.
The seat of the Local Authority is Tripoli, also capital of the Perfecture of Arcadia, built on the site of the historic Tripolitsa, the siege of which in 1821 was a deciding factor in the Struggle for National Independence. There are many points of interest in the town, such as the Archaeological Museum, housed in a neoclassical building of the architect E. Ziller with a rich collection of the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman eras, and the War Museum, with abundant material from the years of the Greek Revolution.
The town is beautified with lovely neoclassical buildings, such as the very beautiful Malliaropouleio Theatre, built in the period 1905-1910 by A. Metaksas. On its stage there have appeared artistes such as M. Kotopouli, A. Beakis, S.Vebo etc. Other buildings are the Karyotakis mansion seat today of the University of the Peloponnese, and the Matzouneio mansion, built in 1856, the basement of which houses today the Philharmonic Band of Tripoli Municipality.
Another architectural jewel is the central railway station of the town, today out of service, that was built in 1890. Several squares and pedestrian precincts embellish the town, such as the square and the park of Mars, the largest in Tripoli whose location was formerly the palace of the Pasha. We can see here, among others, the busts of many fighters in the revolution and the column of the gentry. In addition, the Petrinos Square, formerly the market place for wheat, where of special interest to its west is the Malliaropouleio Theatre and the Independence Square with its neoclassical building of the Town Hall, built in 1861, and the stone constructed buildings of the Public Broadcasting Company and the Greek Red Cross. In the centre of the town is situated Saint Vasilios Square, with the splendid Church of Saint Vasilios located what was formerly the biggest square of Ottoman Tripolitsa.
South of Tripoli is a plethora of villages each with its own history, such as Neochori with the historic Varson Monastery, Partheni with its very beautiful railway station, Agiorgitika, and its wine routes, with its prehistoric metallurgic furnaces and a little further eastwards the deserted Byzantine city-state of Mouchli, built in 1296 and destroyed in 1460 by the Turks.
The very beautiful Alea, with the impressive neoclassical and distinguished Church of Alea Athina and immediately after the park of Episkopi, that you might think has marks from every historical epoch, and to the west the [Palladio][TID:23190], from where King Evander started to found Ancient Rome, and in his honour, the Romans named one of the seven hills of the great city.
Proceeding farther south, on the road towards Sparta, Vlachokerasia, a traditional village, verdant green with thick vegetation of plane, chestnut, walnut and cherry trees in the created nature reserve of Skyritida, the work of a lifetime by Tassos Stephanou, in order to end up outside Saint Varvara at the bridge of the River Evrotas, after the deserted village of Achouri.
East of Manthyreas, is Kandalos, with the beautiful view from up high at Prophet Ilias at 1,100m altitude, towards the dried up Lake Taka, today an artificial reservoir and wetland of the region, and south of Manthyreas is Kerasia, with its stone built houses and the few ruins of the village of Oion, of Ancient Skiritida on the hill behind the Church of Ai-Giannis, at the NW limit of the village.
The road SW of Tripoli takes us with a detour to the west, first to the old Sanitarium of Makri and then to historic Valtetsi, a traditional village with the renovated windmills at the summit of the hill at the entrance to the village. Here, Kolokotronis founded his first military camp of the revolution and in May, 1821 soundly defeated the Turkish-Albanian army.
Continuing SW, we visit Arachamites, where recent excavations by the Finnish Institute in Athens, located the Sanctuary of Artemis Lykoatida (the only known sanctuary of the goddess in Greece) and 4.5km farther south Asea, the homeplace of our poet Nikos Gkatsos, where at the summit of the hill of the Prophet Ilias were excavated foundations of a Doric temple.
From the southern side of the former country road Tripoli-Megaolopoli, and once we have passed by the lovely railway station of Kato Asea (with the hill of the Palaiokastro to its north), we can get to know villages such as Manaris, with its impressive 8 arch stone built rail bridge (the largest in Greece), which was designed by French engineers at the end of the 19th century (a truly engineering miracle of its time) and Paparis, with its very beautiful ruined Frankish tower, built by the Franks to control the road network of the region, to dominate over the village.
Coming down southwards towards Kaltezes, we can see the historic Monastery of Saint Nikolaos of Kaltezes ( built in 1696 on the ruins of the former monastery of the year 1233). It was here that, in May 1821 the Peloponnese Congress met, the first government of the revolutionary Greek nation. South west of the monastery, we can explore the fabled, forgotten Byzantine castle-state of Palaiochora, which once numbered more than 2,000 souls and 300 churches, the ruins of which today are well hidden in inaccessible slopes and summits that require a guide in order to discover them.
East of Tripoli, we go up to the historic Trikorpha. Rebelling Greeks fought here against the Turks. The Tabouria (to the east of Ipsilantis and to the west of Kolokotronis) are situated in a stony area with a view towards Tripoli, before Sylimna. Going up towards the memorial at Trikorpha, it is worth making a detour to the left in order to see the ruins of the [former water tank of Tripoli][TID:23194], located at the Mana tou Nerou. Walking a few metres farther on and we can make out the ruins of the Venetian acquaduct.
From Sylimna we continue NE to get to know the villages of Mainalo and its fir tree covered slopes, such as the very lovely Alonistaina, home of the mother of Th. Kolokotronis, Zabia Kotsaki, Chrysovitsi with the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary and the icon of the Virgin Mary where Kolokotronis prayed, its stone built houses and faucets and the [Museum of Forest History of Mainalo][TID:23300], the homonymous village Mainalo with the ruins from the excavation of the temple of Diana Lykoatida (although recently it is believed that that this has been excavated in Arachmites).
The house of the Kolokotronis family at Libovisi, Ano Davia with the remains of the medieval castle on its summit facing the village’s hill, Piana with the ovens of the revolution, the impressive Church of Saint Georgios and the cave of Pan and the beautiful Roeinos, at 1,100m altitude on the site of the medieval town of Oreinon, where the Byzantine Monastery (of the Virgin Mary) functioned and of special interest is the Church of Saint Georgios, its stone built faucets and the nature that surrounds it.
There starts from Alonistaina a lovely road suitable for vehicles that goes up the western slopes of Mainalo in a fir tree covered landscape and ends at the plateau of Ostrakina at 1.600m altitude and there the small ski resort of Mainalo (with the higher peak of Prophet Ilias at 1,980m). Many forest roads and footpaths cross through Mainalo that offer opportunities as much for mountaineering as for simply walking. Typical excursions in West Mainalo are the crossing Elati – Kserovouni – Rados, from Levidi the ascent to the mountain lodge and from there to Roeino, and the excursions Alonistaina – Levidi and Vytina – Vlacherna.
Following the road suitable for vehicles and going down the east side of Ostrakina, we pass by Kardaras and we start going southwards and eastwards the exploration of the Mantineiako plain while to the north and east, of the Orchomeneio plain.
Kapsia stands at the entrance of the Mantineiako plain, with the distinguished Church of Saint Nikolaos which was built in 1912 on the road. However, what makes Kapsia stand out is its very lovely cave one of the 10 best Greek caves and beside it the sinkholes of the Mantineiako plain that drain the water from all of thenplain and deposits the water in the sea in the region of Lileika at [Anavalos Ksyropygadou St George source - Underwater Source (Lileiko eye). The location of Kapsia was of key importance in ancient years. In the upper part of the village can be seen the groove marks of the ancient cart road that united ancient Mantineia with Megalopoli.
Kapsia is our NW entrance to the wine routes of the Mantineako plain. We can visit in the village the traditional winery of Kalogris that operates in a stone built house built in 1798. Here, is produced matured and is bottled excellent wine from organic vines.
The archaeological site of ancient Mantineia (according to Polybius ‘the most ancient and largest city in Arcadia’) opposite the "architectural strange" Church of Saint Photeini, in the middle of the Mantineiako plain, is one of the most important sights of the region. North of the archaeological site, on the lower Gortsouli hill, we can see remains of ancient temples and the foundations of buildings from the Early-Helladic and Hellenistic Periods.
A few kilometres SE of Mantineia, opposite Milia, Th. Spyropoulos excavated a megalithic building that has been identified as the tomb of the Theban Epaminondas (who was killed in 362BC in the renowned Battle of Mantineia).
After Mantineia,the road continues NE towards Artemisio and Pikerni to end up in the village of Saga, NW of the tunnel of Artemisio. From here a dirt road that leaves to the left of the village towards Mount Lyrkeio, takes us then along a rough route (where we need the aid of 4X4) and at 1,100m to the little Church of the Prophet Ilias. A signposted footpath of 300 metres takes us to the impressive crossing of Klimaka, where the ancients had opened a road through the rock and where Pheidippides and Pausanias had passed through.
From Sangka, the road continues south and takes us to the beautiful, large village of Nestani, built below the intimidating, sheer rock of Goulas, where on one of its sides is built the Monastery of the Virgin Mary Gorgoepikos and on its peak was built a castle and today we can see there the little Church of Ai-Giorgis. One of the best spots to enjoy the view towards the ‘Argon Pedio’ of the Ancients, although the ascent to the summit is rather demanding due to the unstable ground.
At the entrance to Nestani and opposite the village, is situated the ancient citadel of the townn(and the Church of the Ascension, with the foundations of the ancient palace around it) and Philippean fountain, which was built in 1845 at the point where King Philippos encamped in the 4th century BC. On its right side, there is embedded a liberating inscription of the 1st century AD.
To the south of Nestani, we can see Loukas with the Hermitage of Saint Vasilios, from where the view at 920 metres altitude towards the valley below and Loukas with its surrounding hills, is amazing. So too the Frankish watchtower (many similar to this were built for the same purpose of surveillance around the valleys of Mantineia and Orchomenos).
If we proceed NW from Kardaras we will reach the main village of Levidi with its spacious square that has on one side the Byzantine Church of Saint Ioannis of the Prophet Prodromos and at the top of the village the Church of the Taxiarches with icons from 1719 while both of its clocks are stopped at the moment of being blown up by the Germans who wanted to silence the sound of its bell.
The minor road from Levidi (known also as D111) continues towards Vlacherna and [Panagitsa][TID:24281 while an even smaller road goes NE towards Orchomenos. At the exit towards [Orchomenos]Orchomenos, we can see the Byzantine Church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary that was built in the 11th century on the foundations of the sanctuary of the temple of Ymnia Artemis and the impressive stone built fountain of the village with its 14 faucets.
Ancient Orchomenos, to the north of Levidi, was the capital of Arcadia for 150 years and experienced its greatest heyday between the 7th and the 4th centuries BC. Its archaeological site is under reconstruction and stands out for the Sanctuary of Artemis Mesopolitida, the Ancient Agora, the Parliament and the Ancient Theatre.
Four kilometers to the east of Orchomenos is situated Palaiopyrgos that took its name from the ruined tower that is located on the rock higher up to its right. The road NE of Orchomenos ends up in the beautiful Kandila with its historic Monastery. Its altar screen is adorned with icons of the 18th and 19th centuries. It was here in March, 1827 that the Abbot Kallinikos with 200 men from Kandila held fast the Monastery against the Turks.
Historic Vlacherna is built on the foothills of the sheer rock of Bezenikos. A visit to the Castle of Bezenikos and the Monastery of Saint Eleousa that is there together with the Cave of the Virgin Mary Kataphygiotissa is an experience that should not be missed. A landscape of wild beauty, amongst the fir trees, deserted with a wonderful view toward Vlacherna and the valley of the Arcadian plateau. The ascent to the gateway of the castle is short (15-20min) but requires care as the slope of the land is very steep. Below the cave of Kataphygiotissa is situated the grave of the Levidi fighter in the Greek revolution, Alexis Nikolaou whose base was the Monastery of the Merciful Virgin Mary. He was killed in battle in November, 1826.
The minor road leaves northwards from Vlacherna towards Chotousa and Limni, where during the classical period there was Ancient Kaphyes, a town which developed so much that it had even minted its own coins. The small archaeological site is located today close to the Church of Saint Ioannis. Four kilometers north of Limni, following a rather rough dirt road, we can see the mountainous and deserted today, Elatos, with its stone built but collapsed houses and the lovely Church of Saint Paraskevi. The road continues from here towards the Pheneos plateau.
At the exit of Vlacherna towards Vytina, it is worth visiting on Mount Kastania (3.5km going up a dirt road), the Monastery of the Virgin Mary of Vlacherna that is built into the sheer rock. The view from 1,180m altitude towards the surrounding mountains and the valley of the Arcadian plateau, is enchanting.
The last villages of the region of Tripoli at the northern boundaries of the Perfecture, towards Achaia and Κοrinthia, built on the slopes of Saitas, are the lovely villages of Daras, Κomi and farther south built on the banks of the River Tragos, Panagitsa. With a good GPS and a little patience, we can succeed in finding our way through the labyrinth of Daras valley the Venetian Paliopourgos, where in 1715 the encamped army of Asuman Pasha was attacked by 200 kleftes from Mainalo. From this point onwards the road continues towards the western sector of Arcadia, with its most beautiful, traditional villages, Gortynia.
These are only some of our choices that we can propose you visit while exploring the wider region of Tripoli. Find out much more on our pages of Exploring Greece.
[TID:23190]: https://www.exploring-greece.gr/en/show/23190 "Temple of Cathar Gods - Acropolis of Pallantio " " [TID:23194]: https://www.exploring-greece.gr/en/show/23194 "Ruins of an Old Reservoir - Mana tou Nerou Ruins of an Old Reservoir - Mother of Water" [TID:23300]: https://www.exploring-greece.gr/en/show/23300 "Forest History Museum of Mainalo "