Tripoli

The capital of Arcadia and its beautiful outskirts

The odd thing about the cities of Peloponnese (with the exception of Kalamata) is that they are not tourist destinations for the Greeks. Could it be that we are not used to going on trips in cities but prefer the outskirts? Is it because our culture is depleted in functionality? Or is it that our heavy History took away from the neighborhoods any sample of traditional architecture they may had? Perhaps, it is all the above.

The capital of Arcadia doesn’t stray far from that rule. However, it is a pleasant stop on your way to the villages of Mainalo, Parnonas, Taygetos, or the Arcadian coastline. Nestled on a plateau that gives it the infamous weather, Tripoli spreads among open, lively squares, green groves that other Greek cities lack, and neoclassical buildings that add here and there strokes of architectural grandeur among the modern blocks of flats.

For your strolling you should note down Areos square, one of the biggest and most beautiful squares in Greece, around which gather some of the nicest neoclassical buildings of the city. Interesting are also the Petrinos Square with the Malliaropouleio Theater of the 1910, Agios Vasilios Square with the Metropolitan church above little shops, and of course the lively cobbled road of Deligianni Street, around which is formed the map of the city’s night life.

The “must” sights of Tripoli
The Archaeological Museum
It is designed by Ernst Ziller in 1896, a two store neoclassical building that was originally the hospital of Evangelistria, and hosts today findings from the excavations in Mantineia, Kamenitsa, Kynouria and the wider area of Arcadia, which tell a story of millennia that start from the Neolithic period of Prehistory, passing by the Mycenaeans and reaching the end of the Roman Empire.  
Agios Vasilios
The Metropolitan church of Tripoli dates back to 1855 and it is located on the square that shares its name. It is built with white Dolianon marble and has a marble screen too, also designed by the architect of our hearts (yes, we’re talking about Ziller again).  
The War Museum

It is housed on the ground floor of Malliaropoulou House, with the pediments on the windows, on Agios Vasilios Square. It has exhibits from the Greek Revolution of 1821 and from World War II.

House Kariotakis

Did you know that the famous Greek poet was born in Tripoli? His impressive childhood home, with the wooden windows in the row, hosts today the Rector of the University of Peloponnese.

And all you need to see outside Tripoli
Agios Georgios Grove
It comes as a surprise for the Greek cities standard that Tripoli has a whole grove on its “feet”. In 185 green acres spreads the grove of Agios Georgios, which is perfect for pic-nic, just two kilometers away from the city.  The families will be thrilled to know that inside the grove there is a playground and a small zoo with… local animals, while the paths that cross it are offered for cool walks, especially in the summer when the temperatures in Tripoli are extremely high.
Lake Taka
Ten kilometers away from Tripoli there is one of the most important wetlands of the entire Peloponnese. Every spring Lake Taka hosts in its waters and its banks white egrets, glossy ibises, snake eagles, terns and kingfishers, while the water lilies that decorate its surface add pink strokes in the blue and green landscape. In the summer the lake completely dries out, and in the autumn starts filling up again. A natural phenomenon that causes the village next to it, called Vouno, to spend half of its time as coastal and the other half as land village. 
Kapsia Cave

Seventeen kilometers outside Tripoli there is one of the most impressive caves of Peloponnese- if not of the entire Greece. It spreads in 330 meters, passing by amazing stalactites and stalagmites that are part of a very special tour, which lasts about half an hour. You can find it one kilometer away from the village that is also called Kapsia.

Ancient Mantineia

Fourteen kilometers away from Tripoli it was built one of the biggest and greatest (and most unknown to the public) cities of Ancient Arcadia. Being a permanent opponent of Sparta, the city that according to the myth was built by the grandson of Pelasgos of Mantineia, was ruined by the Spartan King Agisipolis in 385 B.C. only to be restored by Epaminondas in 370 B.C. There are few sights saved today in the archaeological site of Mantineia, among which are its ancient theater, the Parliamentary Chamber, parts of the ancient Agora and its walls, and the foundations of the temples of Zeus and Hera.

The main reason to come here is the church of Agia Fotini, which is the work of the architect Costas Papatheodorou, student of a major Greek architect, Dimitris Pikionis. It is located right across the archaeological site and it is a peculiar building, as it is half Byzantine and half ancient Greek, looking almost fake in the pictures. So if you want to see close the peculiar architecture and decide on your own if it’s a masterpiece or an atrocity, it worth a visit.

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