Arcadia: Shaping Culture and History of Modern Greece
By Catherine Tsounis

September 23, 1821 was the date that changed the destiny of the Modern Greek nation. Four centuries of slavery reduced an advanced civilization to a state of illiteracy. The Greek Orthodox Church with the village priest kept alive the learning of this unique civilization. A group of guerilla fighters from Arcadia, the heartland of Hellenism, challenged a world power, the Ottoman Turkish Empire, to form a free nation.

September 23rd was the first major victory of these Chieftains, Kleftes (mountain fighters), Armatoloi (semi-free soldiers) in the fall of Tripolis (Tripolitsa), the unofficial capital of the Peloponnese, because of its


The two masks of Theodore Kolokotronis face, engravings
and art work of the museum.
strategic location. The headquarters of the Turkish army were located in Tripolitsa. The successful siege was the first major victory. Greek fighting forces were able to gain national support and the aid of Phil-Hellenic nations.

On Sunday, September 27th, the 188th Anniversary of the “Alosis of Tripolis” (The Siege of Tripolis) was remembered by the “Geros Tou Morea” chapter of the Pan Arcadian Association of America. “A memorial service was held at St. Demetrios Church of Astoria. A luncheon followed at the “Geros Tou Morea” civic center in Long Island City. The chapter was founded in 1931. Dr. John G. Siolas was the keynote speaker for this Day of Remembrance.

am proud to be Greek and an Arcadian,” said Dr. Siolas. “We were the first to rebel against the Turkish rule. My great-great uncles Georgaki and Kostaki were bodyguards of Theodore Kolokotronis. Everyone in this room has an ancestor who fought with Kolokotronis. One can trace one’s ancestors in the National Archives of Tripolis.” The Katrivanos family had an



The Dryades Complex is composed of the Hotel Kallisto,
Arcadian Museum of art and History, an exhibition center
and library
.

ancestor, Athanasios, who was one of Kolokotronis’ fighters. George Kanellopoulos from the village of Magoulilia said the “Kanellopoulos family were great fighters with seven or eight soldiers. Ibrahim (Turkish commander) burnt our village twice. We still fought on. Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, a university professor, was a former prime minister of Greece.”

Coinciding with this unique celebration was the first visit of a Patriarch to the Peloponnese. His Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople visited

Tripolis from September 21st-22nd. Andreas Lykourentzos, Deputy Prime Minister of Education, welcomed the Patriarch by saying “from the heart of Morea and the capital (Tripolis) of Arcadia, the homeland of Modern Martyrs, we show our great love for the Patriarch of Constantinople, leader of the Christian Church. I welcome you first as a Tripolitsiotis and as an Arcas, representing our people of Arcadia. Our citizens are dedicated to the trades, professions and sciences. We are your supporters in
Greece and Overseas. The Arcadians remain loyal to the traditions and sacrifices of our Nation on behalf of the Christian Faith and for the freedom of our country. In the 21st century, The Light of the Phanar shines in our hearts and the world.”



Oil painting of a nymph fleeing a Greek God.

Recently, I attended the “Arcadian Museum of Folk Art and History” in the town of Levithi, Arcadia. The town preserves its Greek character with shops selling traditional breads, cafenia, historical homes and a major Church. The town’s persons are friendly, wanting all to know about their history. The Arcadian Museum is located in the Kallisto Hotel and Suites, a four star luxury. “When the natural beauty becomes myth, history and heritage, hospitality constitutes an experience of communion, through a diachronic search of bliss”, that is stated as the museum’s theme in its official brochure. Unofficially, the museum and hotel is known as “Dryades”. The hotel and museum is set in the Arcadian plateau on the slopes of the Mainalon Mountains. It lies opposite the ancient Arcadian town of Orhomenos. The municipality of Levithi is composed of the villages of Levithi, Vlaherna, Kandila, Paleo Pyrgos and Orchomenos. Ancient Orchomenos has not been excavated due to lack of funding.

The Dryades Complex is composed of the Hotel Kallisto, Arcadian Museum of art and History, an exhibition center and library. The creator is George Christodoulopoulos whose focus is to project the greatness of the Arcadian tradition in the eternal development of Western culture. The Kalisto Hotel enhances the hospitality of the museum and encourages tourism. Arcadia is now becoming a major ski resort center that competes with Switzerland in importance.

Mr. Christodoulopoulos has a personal collection of seven hundred drawings and engravings of European and Greek artists dating back to the 16th century. Other museum artifacts include small sculptures, historical photographs, currencies, banknotes, art publications and other items. Today’s modern fairies evolved from the Arcadian nymphs of Dapne, Artinoe, Alkinoe (who is in Sicilian Mythology) and others. The library has one thousand books printed from the eighteenth to twentieth century. They are rare editions.


The “Geros Tou Morea” chapter of the Pan Arcadian
Association of America.

The engravings have particular importance. They include: copper engravings of Arcadian Orhomenos 1806; Karitaina, 1927; Pan Resting, 1669; The Resting of Artemis, 1680 and others. Oil paintings are the following: A Greek Guard 19th century; The houses of Dimitsana, 1950; Olives, Pitcher and Bread, 1968; water painting of The Temple of Apollo, Epicurus, 1810 and additional paintings. A crayon painting of Theodore Kolokotronis leaving the Eftanisa Ionian islands is impressive. Theodore Kolokotronis, national liberator of Greece, received his training with the British in the Ionian Islands.

Wood engravings of the “Dryathes”, 1930, “The Harvest”, 1952, "Woman with a Pitcher", 1932, are among this unique collection. The Arcadian Museum of Folk Art and History is an act of love by Mr. Christodoulopoulos. The Center has the complete support of the Department of Agriculture and General Tourism Association of Arcadia. For more information, visit www.dryades-arcadia.gr or email info@dryades-arcadia.gr or call (+30)27960 29019 and www.inarcadia.gr


(Posting date 8 October 2009)

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