Dimitsana

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Dimitsana

Dimitsana is an historic and popular all year destination in Arcadia, Peloponnese. The picturesque village which has been listed as a preserved settlement since 1978 from the Ministry of Culture, has retained intact its beautiful and interesting architecture. It is amphitheatrically built on the slopes of two hills, above the gorge of Loucios river. Rich in history and traditions, Dimitsana is considered as one of the most beautiful and well-preserved villages throughout Greece. Stone-built houses, winding paved alleyways, stone bridges and water mills, museums as well as many old monasteries and Byzantine churches compose the scene of this delightful village. Nicely surrounded by lush greenery and tree forests, overlooks Lousios River, Lousios valley and the plains of Megalopoli as far as mount Taygetos.

The population reached a peak of 2500 but after 1950, this figure started to fall as a result of immigration, mainly to United States and Australia. Although it has lost much of its population, still remains a lively village thanks to tourism and to its proximity to Athens. Its striking natural beauty, history and culture make it a fascinating place to explore.

 

History

The historical roots of Dimitsana can be traced to the ancient Arcadian town of Tefthis that had participated in the Trojan War. The ancient city had an Acropolis with a fortification wall, part of which survives to this day. All we know about the ancient Tethys comes from the great ancient traveler Pausanias, who visited the area in 174 AD. and wrote all his travelling experiences in the book "Arcadian". The time of when ancient Teuthis was renamed to Dimitsana remains unknown, however, the name Dimitsana is considered to be of Slavic origin. The name Dimitsana was first recorded in 967 AD. in a Patriarchate's document related to Philosophou Monastery.

In 1764 a monk, named Agapios, established a library in the village and filled it with books from the monastery. The library was growing up constantly until 1821, with new books offered by the Patriarchate, as in Dimitsana was operating a theological school. A lot of bishops and scholars graduated from it, among them Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople and Germanos III of Old Patras whose houses have survived in the town. The village played a vital role in the country’s struggle for independence in 1821 with almost 14 gunpowder mills that worked non-stop day and night, supplying with gunpowder the Greek fighters. At that time, a large part of the library was destroyed. After the liberation of Greece, Dimitsana experienced great growth as a commercial center of the whole region.

 
 
Sights

Dimitsana is a stone-built village with remarkable mansions, most of which are now restored. The statue of Patriarch Gregory V dominates the central square, while his house is home to a remarkable Ecclesiastical Museum where a rich collection of old sacred utensils, icons, sacred vestments, textiles, looms, folk art items and archeological finds is kept. The library of the village has more than 35,000 volumes of rare books, manuscripts and a rich historical archive. The Elementary School was built 1898–1910 and is a typical example of a two-grade school of this period. It operated as a girls' school until 1930 and later as county court. What stands out is the 1900 stone-built clock with the bell that weighs 700 kg. The clock stands majestically next to the church on Agia Kyriaki and is a gift from those who immigrated to New York. In the outskirts of Dimitsana is located the only Open-air Water Power Museum in the Balkans, which takes us back to the pre-industrial era. The museum was founded in 1997 after the restoration of abandoned pre-industrial facilities, which relied on water propulsion. In the wider area you can find important sights such as the old and new Monastery of the Philosopher as well as the Monastery of Prodromos located inside the gorge of Loucios. Of great interest is the village of Zygovisti and the monasteries of Kernitsa and Aimiala.

From Dimitsana start many paths to the gorge of Loucios and its monasteries. Many traditional hostels can be found in the village where you can also find all the necessary tourist infrastructure that will ensure you a comfortable stay in this idillyc place.