TEGEA: ACQUAINTANCE WITH A CITY OF ANCIENT ARCADIA
Enclosed by a series of mountain masses and surrounded by powerful neighbors, ancient Arcadia gives the impression that was in the margin of the long and turbulent history of the Peloponnese. Yet its central geographical position, of strategic significance, favored the development of powerful city-states and the flourishing of famous sanctuaries.
Nowadays the history of Arcadia remains generally unknown to a wider audience, fact that makes it an ideal destination for an archaeological exploration. That’s why we invite you to get to know one of its most significant cities, Tegea. Follow us!
1st stop: Archaeological Museum of Tegea
In a distance of about 9 klm southeast of Tripoli, the capital of contemporary Arcadia, the Archaeological Museum of Tegea, a small gem of the area, is located. In a ground-floor, stone building of simple architecture dated to 1909- it is one of the earliest Greek regional museums- a brand new exhibition is housed. The subject of the exhibition, for which the museum was awarded in 2016 by the European Museum Forum, under the aegis of the Council of Europe, is the history of the people who lived in the territory of ancient Tegea. Through the exhibits dating from 6000 B.C. until the 4th century A.D. the emergence and the development of one of the most powerful Arcadian poleis is presented along with the history of the famous sanctuary of Athena Alea.
2nd stop: The archaeological site of the Athena Alea temple.
In a walking distance to the North, the contemporary village of Alea seems to guard the remnants of the Athena Alea temple as a well kept secret. Surrounded by beautiful houses of traditional architecture, only the foundations of the temple are preserved today. It is an image that makes it hard for the visitor to realize that this is the place where the second largest ancient temple of the Peloponnese, a temple-symbol of Tegea was erected during the second half of the 4th century B.C. Designed by the ingenious sculptor Skopas of Paros, the temple was reputed for its exceptional proportions, the innovative interior layout and its unique sculptural decoration. But there is more than this. According to the excavated finds, the exact same place was used for the cult of the local deity of Alea since the 10th century B.C.! So imagine how many stories it may hide…
3rd stop: The archaeological park of Palaia Episkopi.
Under the thick shade of the plane-trees and chestnut-trees, tessarae of the ancient, byzantine and modern history of Tegea are scattered around the park. The landmark of the area is the Byzantine church of the Dormition of the Virgin, built upon the analemma of the ancient theatre of the city. The church, dated probably to the 10th century A.D., partly restored in 1888 according to the designs of the architect Ernst Ziller and decorated during the 1930s by the painter Agenor Asteriades, constitutes a very distinctive example of the diachrony of the Hellenic civilization.
Every alley of the park has something to reveal to the visitor. A part of the ancient Agora, the mosaic floor of an Early Christian basilica, the remnants of the medieval walls of Nykli or the Folklore Museum. There is no doubt that you will enjoy it!