Dimitsana

Beautiful. Special. Impressive. Dimitsana is built on the southern side of a hill, at an altitude of 950 meters, offering uninterrupted view to the plain of Megalopolis and Taygetos. It is the seat of the extended municipality of Gortynia, and until recently it was the seat…

Dimitsana is built on the southern side of a hill, at an altitude of 950 meters,
offering uninterrupted view to the plain of Megalopolis
and Taygetos. It is the seat of the extended municipality of Gortynia. The landscape with the stone tower houses is unique.

Its history begins since the Homeric Age, when the small Arcadian town of Tefthis stood on its site.
It forms a community together with the villages Paleochori, Karkalou and the monasteries of Aimyalon – Filosofos, with a total population of 740 inhabitants. Before the war, Dimitsana had twice this population, in 1960 it had 2,000 people, but many of them immigrated and settled in America, Australia and elsewhere.

Dimitsana during the years of the Turkish rule played an important role with the “hidden school” and in 1821, during the Revolution, with the mills producing gunpowder, the so called “Dimitsanitiko barouti”. It is the hometown of the Ethnomartyr Patriarch Grigorios V, whose statue stands in the central square of the village and was donated by Maraslis and the
Metropolitan Germanos of Old Patras, whose houses are preserved.

The Museum of Dimitsana, which is housed in the Library, exhibits textiles, looms, folk art, and an archaeological collection. Just outside Dimitsana, there is the Open-Air Water Power Museum, which aims to highlight the traditional water power facilities that used to be particularly common
in the region. Every walk, every step, and every activity in Dimitsana is full of history.

History

In the site of present-day Dimitsana stood the ancient Arcadian city of Tefthis which had been involved in the Trojan War and in the occupation of Megalopolis.

In 963 AD Filosofos Monastery was founded 2,5km outside Dimitsana. The name Dimitsana was first mentioned in 967 AD in a clerical document related to the Filosofos Monastery. In 1764, a wise monk, Agapios, built a library and transferred there the books of the monastery. The library continuously expanded up to 1821, as the Patriarchate provided new books because in Dimitsana operated a clerical school known as “Frontistirio Ellinikon Grammaton”. The Dimitsana school operated since 1764 and many metropolitans and scholars graduated from it, including Grigorios V and Germanos of Old Patras.

During the 1821 struggle, big part of the library was destroyed, because the Greek fighters needed the paper to make bullet rounds in the 14 gunpowder mills of Dimitsana, who worked day and night to provide gunpowder to the fighters. That is why Dimitsana was called the “national gunpowder storehouse”. The first gunpowder mills were built on the pretext of craft industry in the mid-18th century by the metropolitan Ananias of Lakedaimonia, who was setting up an uprising against the Turks. The movement was revealed, and the metropolitan was executed in 1764 as well as his partners.

Attractions

Dimitsana is a stone-built settlement with remarkable mansions, most of which have been restored today. The settlement is a typical example of Gortynian architecture and has been labelled as traditional.

Attractions within the settlement include the Dimitsana Library, Grigorios V mansion, the primary school etc. The library is housed in a part of the Dimitsana School site. It was founded in 1764 and was being enriched with books for 57 years. During the 1821 revolution, part of the books was used for the construction of bullet rounds due to paper shortage. Nowadays, it has more than 35,000 books, manuscripts, and documents. The primary school was built in 1898-1910 by donation of Andreas Syggros. It is a typical 2-class school of this period. It operated as a girls’ school until 1930 and then the building housed the District Court of Psofida.

In the wider area, major sights are the old and new Filosofos Monastery and the Monastery of Prodromos, both located in the gorge of Lousios. Just outside the village, there is the Open-Air Museum of Water Power, established in 1997 through restoration of abandoned pre-industrial water-power plants.