Dimitsana, imposing and amphitheatrically built at the slopes of Mainalo, about 59 kilometers northwest of Tripolis and surrounded by verdant hillsides, dazzles visitors with its stone houses and cobbled narrow streets, the scenic churches and the Open-Air Water Power Museum, but also with its bridges, springs, mills and the natural beauty of River Lousios that flows nearby.
History of Dimitsana
Dimitsana flourished from the 17th until the beginning of the 20th century. The main professions of the residents were trade and metallurgy. Its economic prosperity led to its intellectual prosperity with the establishment of the famous Greek School. The town -also known as “the Arsenal of the 1821 Revolution”- became famous also for its water-power facilities that were supplying with energy the local flour mills, the fulling mills, the tanneries and most of all the gunpowder mills. Today, Dimitsana with its rich history, the impressive monuments, archaeological and pre-industrial sites, the natural beauty, the scenic churches, the imposing monasteries and the renowned nearby villages is one of the most interesting areas of Arcadia.
Dimitsana, surrounded by verdant hillsides, imposing, built amphitheatrically on the slopes of Mainalo, is situated 59 km. northwest of Tripoli. It is very impressive with its stone houses and very charming with its paved alleys, its churches and the Open Air Water-Power Museum, as well as the bridges, the fountains, the mills and all the beauties of Lousios river, which flows near the settlement.
Dimitsana is located approximately 1 km above Lousios; on the one hand, the river is surrounded by wild, virginal beauty with rich flora and fauna and old industrial plans that utilized the power of water, and on the other hand, at the Lousios gorge there are monasteries and hermitages, which developed mainly in post-Byzantine times. All these beauties are accessible through old and new paths that facilitate the hikers.
The traditional, stone-built settlement of Dimitsana is very charming with its excellent facilities –accomodation, restaurants, taverns–, with its traditional products (sweets, meat, honey, pasta), with its buildings that testify to its rich past, financially and culturally, and also the museums and the possibilities it offers for hiking excursions in the nearby areas.
What to See in Dimitsana
A tour around Dimitsana allows the visitor to admire from up close elegant churches (Aghia Kyriaki, Aghios Georgios, Aghios Charalambos, Metamorfosi tou Sotiros and others) and also the Ecclesiastical Museum, housed in the renovated home of the Patriarch Gregorios V. The old mansions, among which the single five-storey house of Xenios with its murals, which today has been converted into a guesthouse, the marble campanile tower, the stone bridges, the fountains, the amazing excursions to the “verdant” monasteries (Old and New Philosophou Monasteries, Monastery of Timios Prodromos, Emiali Monastery), Lousios gorge and the nearby pretty villages Paleochori, Marko and Zatouna, each with its unique beauties and worth-seeing corners, they all comprise a unique experience in Arcadia.
Dimitsana, built on the site of the ancient city of Tefthis (near the church of the Taxiarches and among the houses we can still see fragments of the city’s ancient wall), gradually rose to great prosperity from the 12th century onwards, but mainly from the 17th to the beginning of the 20th century. Its merchants travelled for business all the way to Odessa, Constantinople and Smyrna. The inhabitants became mainly merchants and metalworkers (goldsmiths, silversmiths, tinkers) and the financial prosperity also brought about the cultural prosperity of the town, with the famous Greek School, founded in 1764 by the locals Georgios Gounas and Agapios Leonardos; the School mainly developed after 1816 and many important personas of modern Greek history (the Patriarch Gregorios V, Paleon Patron Germanos, Papaflessas and others) studied there. The School’s rich library, supplemented with many more additions today, is housed in the old building of the Elementary School and includes handwritten codices, old editions, a historical archive, a folklore collection and archaeological findings. Dimitsana became famous for its water-power plants, which set to motion flour mills, water mills, tanneries, but mainly gunpowder mills, whence the town took the name “the 1821 Revolution’s weaponry”. Today, just outside the settlement, at the location of Ai Yannis, we can visit the innovative Open Air Water-Power Museum, which opened in 1997 and has since been operating by the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation; the old facilities have been restored and the amazing result contributes to the preservation of the knowledge regarding traditional water-power technology in the area, which flourished in the 16th century.
Dimitsana today, with its rich past, its monuments and archaeological and early-industrial sights, its natural beauties, pretty churches, impressive, famous monasteries and well-known nearby villages, is one of Arcadia’s most interesting areas.