The trip today includes two of the most graphic villages in Arcadia, visits at archeological sites and Byzantium churches, traditional Greek cuisine and coffee shops and traditional Greek products. I am referring to the trip to the two popular villages of “Stemnitsa” with the Castle and the ancient theatre and “Dimitsana” with the Water power museum and the Lousios paths. The total driving distance is aprox 220km and 3,5 hours so we would suggest you to start earlier in the morning in order to be able to visit as many places as possible.
There are two different routes that you can use and we as usual suggest you to take the one that passes through the villages as you go there in order to see different places and on your way back to use the highway. So, if you choose the route that we suggest you the first interest point is the car racing track, which actually is the old highway that locals where using in order to go to the south Peloponnese some years ago, and now is used as an open car racing track for different racing events through the year due to its “snaky” shape as you can see on the google map image below. The road is called “kolosourtis” that is a mix word meaning difficult route!
We will not suggest you to stop at any of the villages that you will pass from and this is because both in Stemnitsa and Dimitsana there are a lot things that you can do and spend your day very nice.
So, the first destination is Stemnitsa or Trikolonoi. In Stemnitsa you can see the the Ancient Theatre of Stemnitsa, the Folklore Museum, the Silver-Gold Sithery School and the Ancient Castle. We sugest you to visit everything with the order that we have them because in this order you will visit every place as you go and you will not have to go back and forth.
The ancient theatre in Stemnitsa is a classic ancient Greek theatre in a smaller version as the famous one of Epidaurus. The Folklore Museum is a traditional three floored house, the classic house of the Arcadia villages that was built in 1985 in order to serve the needs of a large family. It has historical importance as well as it was one of the places where all the chieftain’s meetings took place in 1821. At the ground floor the wood and he wine were stocked at a huge “cask”, at the mezzanine there were “Yukor” and the food, and the top floor was the principal area of the residence. Please keep in mind that the museum is closed on Tuesdays and the other days it is open only in the morning hours until 1 or 2 pm.
The Silver-Gold Sithery School open in 1976 and is the place where the students were taught the art of silversmithery. Today the School operates in a newly renovated two storey building and provides allowances to its students for accommodation, free meals and free bus tickets to their homeland. The only requirement for the students is to have completed at least the first year of the Greek Lyceum. The Castle in Stemnitsa is located at the top of the hill from where you can enjoy the amazing view at the village and at the Loussios on the west side.
As you are in Stemnitsa you can also visit the main square of the village where you will find a lot different coffee shops and restaurants in case you need to stop for a refreshment or for a snack.
After you leave from Stemnitsa, a very nice suggestion is to visit the Lousios paths with the monasteries and the Ancient Gortys. At the map below you can find directions to the main Monasteri, the “Moni St John Prodromou” and the Ancient Gortys.
The monastery was established in the 12th century and is built in the rockface, with frescos from the 16th century. It is a very spectacular sight with wooden balconies and the old piece of the monastery is gorgeous with very intense wear and tear from time. This area has also a big historic importance as it was the haunt of hero Theodoros Kolokotronis, one of the leaders of the War of Independence in 1821. At some walls there are still some bullet holes from the Turks.
Another important site in this area is the Ancient Gortyns further down that was established in 335 BC and was a very important healing center of Ancient Greece. Now there are not a lot that you can see rather than columns and crumbling walls but we suggest you to go there because you can also visit the Loussios river, where it is said that Zeus, father of the Gods, had been bathed as a child.
So, the next destination is the village Dimitsana, after you stop at the Water Power Museum that really deserves your attention. There you can find traditional installation and water-powered mechanisms and you can walk at the paths of the museum right next to the running water. You expect to see a big fulling mill and a flouring mill with a horizontal paddle-wheel. In addition, you will see the still that was set up outdoors for the production of the traditional Greek alcoholic drink “tsipouro”, made from the skins of the pressed grapes.
The final destination of the today trip is the popular village of Arcadia, Dimitsana. The village is built at an altitude of 1.000m, above the gorge of Lousios. . The village is very graphic with traditional stone houses and byzantine churches.
The name of Dimitsana is probably Slavic and has been identified with the descent of the Slavs in Peloponnese, held between the 7th and 9th century during the Medieval History of Greece. Some points of interest before your free time at the village are the Ancient Tertiary Bridge and the Christian Church of “I.N. Taksiarxon” and of cource the Clock in Dimitsana that is located next to the square of the village.
The main road that crosses the village and close to the small square, is the road where you will find most of the traditional Greek taverns in the area and the coffee shops. Mainly you will find taverns focused on Greek cuisine and more specifically, as at the most villages of Greece, you will find restaurants with traditional local foods from this specific area. We suggest you to walk at the staircases and explore the “village downtown”, it is one of the most graphic villages of Greece.
On your way back we suggest you to return from the other side of Menalo mountain from where you will pass from the villages Vytina and Levidi. Please keep in mind that you will need aprox 1,5h driving to come back without stopping anywhere.