Impressions of Achaia, Ilia and Arkadia, Greece
Achaia, Ilida, Arkadia. The names do not even ring a bell with all people who have travelled to Greece before. But say 'Olympia' and everybody knows: the Olympic Games. Olympia is indeed an unbelievably fascinating place, in the district of Ilida, by the way. But this North-Western and Central part of the Peloponnesos has so much more to offer. The Apollo temple of Vassae is spectacular and would even be more so if it had not been illegally stripped of its friezes in the 19th century and if it had not been wrapped under a giant tent. Be nice to yourself and invest some time in exploring the robust Arcadian mountain villages of the Central Peloponnesos, full of character, often near archaeological sites which tell captivating stories, enjoy the spectacle of the mountain scenery of gorges and valleys, with cliff-edge monasteries of a thousand years old. And may this report also be a contribution so ferry passengers arriving in Patras do no longer all rush past the brilliant archaeological museum of that city.
Before visiting the place of your choice:
Like Lykaion and Asea, Tegea has Pelasgian, pre-Greek roots. The small but impressing archaeological museum of Tegea houses collections from the akropolis of Asea, the Athena Alea temple in Tegea and the Byzantine church of Episkopi. The Athena Alea temple, situated in the middle of today's village, dates from the 4th century and was built on top of a Mycenaean sanctuary and yet another temple which had been destroyed by fire. The Athena Alea temple is the second largest in the Peloponnesos, after the Zeus temple on the Altis of Olympia. The 11th century Byzantine church of Episkopi, just North of Tegea, is dedicated to the Koimisis (Dormitio) of the Virgin Mary, and served throughout medieval times as the metropolis church of the Frankish Barony of Nikli, or Amykles near Sparta. The church was built on top of the 'koilon', the semi-circular bleachers of an ancient theatre.