Elliniko is located south of Stemnitsa and is built on three small hills, at a height of 700m. The history of the village begins around the 15th century, and in 1515 it appears in the census of the Ottoman empire, in their archives as the property of Ahmet Bey, with a population of 41 families, 5 unmarried people and 1 widow. At the end of the 16th beginning of the 17th century, the Albanian/Ottoman residents abandoned the site and inhabitants from the region (the Georgantas family) retook possession of the area on behalf of the local Greeks and refounded the village. From this time on, the village was inhabited by Greeks. Later we have other references in the above archives as well as the first written reference by a traveller, in a description by the Venetian Riet’ Antonio Rakifiko during his tour of the Peloponnese.
He refers to it as Moulatsi, which is the first name of the village. In the Census of the Venetian Grimani, which occurred in 1700, Moulatsi is said to have 148 inhabitants. In 1849 the number went up to 347 and in 1907 to 807. This is the largest size the population of the village reached. After 1907 it gradually decreased year on year. The name “Elliniko” was given to it in 1927 from the famous place name that exists a short distance to the north of the village.
During the War of Independence in 1821 we have many references to veterans from Elliniko, such as the chieftain Savvas Nikolopoulos and the soldiers Pavlos Lagodimos, Vassilis Barbalias, Diam. Papavassilopoulos, Constantinos Taloumis. The village paid a heavy price in blood both in WW1 and WW2.


Elliniko is the largest village in the region of Tricoloni in the heart of mythical Arcadia. This region was named Eutrisia in antiquity and included the city-states of Tricolonoi, Zoitia, Thyraion and Hypsous. In the Byzantine period the municipality of Gortynia was named as being under the governance of Skorta, “ Gortsa” in Slavic language, apparently a corruption of the name Gortys, while under Frankish rule the name Karytena was in use, also derived from Gortynia, which was reintroduced from 1855 as the name of the region, thus marking the passing of the Franks.

The great Greek traveller of the 2nd Century AD, Pausanias, writes that the ancient city-state of Tricolonoi, where the village of Paliomeiri now lies, was built according to myth by one of the fifty sons of Lycaon. Due to his father’s impiety, he was struck down by a thunderbolt from Zeus along with his brothers, apart from Nyktimus, whom Arkas succeeded as king.

The king Arkas, “most illustrious in all things”, gave his name to the wider region, which was renamed Arcadia, while its previous name was Pelasgia, from Pelasgus, father of Lycaon. Lycaon was the first mythical king of Arcadia and the founder of the ancient city Lykosouras, on Mount Lykaion, where he established the festival called the Lycaea, in honour of Zeus Lycaeus. The killing of Lycaon and his sons by Zeus’ thunderbolt, as well as the establishment of the festival in honour of Zeus by Lycaon, provide indications of previous ritualistic activity in the area, which involved various sacrificial practices of the old religion (known as Homeric), with Zeus as king of the gods.

Nyktimus, the only pious son of Lycaon, was succeeded as king by Arkas, who gave his name to the whole region, since he taught his subjects how to cultivate the land, make bread, and weave, as well as other skills. Thus the Arcadians came to distinguish themselves as a farming and shepherding people, who had also always been known for their bravery and craftsmanship.

The close blood relationship between Pelasgus and Lycaon provides an indication of the link between the Arcadians and Pelasgians – that is, the first autochthonous Greek races which inhabited the area. The language of the ancient Arcadians is the so-called Arcado-Cypriot, the most ancient of the four dialects of Ancient Greek, related to the Mycenaean language of the Achaeans who fought in the Trojan war./p>

With the Dorian invasion, the Arcadians were confined to the mountainous hinterland of the Peloponnese, preserving their independence also from the Spartan threat in the 7th century BC. During the Persian wars they sent an army to the battles of Thermopylae and Plataea, while during the Peloponnesian wars they were allied for the first time with the Spartans and Corinthians.

“Paraibasio”, the other name proposed for the village of Elliniko, is the name of a monument which was erected by the Arcadians in the region, when king Cleomenes destroyed Megalopolis in the 3rd century AD and forced its inhabitants to return to the mountain regions.

The village owes its current name to the site of “Elliniko” to the north of the settlement, where archaic boulders were found, belonging to an ancient fort or temple. It is worth mentioning that in Crete there are many places which carry the same name with slightly variant spelling: “Ellenika”. We find a corruption of the same name (“Lenika”) in the region of Gortynia and the area between Valtesiniko and Glanitsia.

The village of Elliniko (which means “Greek”) justifies its name and bears it worthily, since it represents a microcosm of Greek history at its greatest moments. As well as a favourite destination of lovers of antiquity and nature, admirers of the Byzantine tradition and contemporary history find Elliniko the perfect starting point, due to its location in the heart of Arcadia, its ease of access and the idyllic accommodation that it provides today.


Ancient Gortys, located in the heart of Arcadia, beyond its glorious and long history, is encircled more than any other place by the mists of myth.

He who has not visited Arcadia does not know that paradise exists on earth. It is no coincidence that since antiquity to the present day, Arcadia is a place and landscape that has fed the imagination of many great poets and artists like few others throughout the ages. For Arcadia is unique in that it is both real and symbolic. It is the heavenly utopia where dreams mingle with reality, a temple of nature where religion and the love of nature are in harmony.

Pan, the god of pastoral life, chose to be born there, to enjoy, carefree, the company of the Nymphs, hypnotising the dreamlike landscapes of his birthplace with the music of his pipe, far from the thunderbolts of Olympus. He is, however, also the god who with the same pipe spreads so-called ‘panic’ on his enemies, to assist his foster-brother Olympian Zeus, king of the twelve gods, in the battle with the Titans.

The Hellenistic poet Theocritus invented a distinct genre known as pastoral poetry, to sing the praises of idyllic bucolic life. The poet Virgil, a worthy follower of Theocritus – though in Latin – placed this poetry back into its land of inspiration, mythical Arcadia, where his pastoral poems, known as the Eclogues, are played out.

Since then Arcadia has emerged in poetry as the place of idyllic bliss par excellence. The influence of Virgil on medieval poetry explains why the Divine Comedy of Dante abounds with references to Arcadia. In the work of the Spanish poet De La Vega, Arcadia is presented as a heaven on earth of pastoral simplicity, while in 1502 Jacobo Sannazaro in his poem “Arcadia” celebrates it as a lost nostalgic idyll. In 1590 Sir Philip Sidney published the poem “The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia”, establishing Arcadia as a symbol of the era of the Renaissance, as well as a firm point of reference for the Romantic period.

The Arcadian landscape also inspired the world of painting, which vies with poetry in the wealth and variety of its references to the mythical Arcadia of shepherds, Pan and the Nymphs.

The emblematic painting by Nicolas Poussin “The Arcadian Shepherds” depicts the place as an idyllic heaven on earth, which only death can overshadow. With the enigmatic inscription “Et in Arcadia ego” on the marble tomb, over which the French painter’s Arcadian shepherds are stooping, death allusively reveals its presence. For he who visits Arcadia is liable to forget about death.

It is worth mentioning that contemporary study by a Greek researcher locates in Gortynia the remains of Alexander the Great, whom tradition has immortalised. Perhaps the tomb which Poussin’s mysterious “Arcadian Shepherds” are looking for belongs to him.

He who has not heard the babbling waters of Zeus’s river, the Lousios, tumbling down beneath the remains of the temple of Asclepius in Ancient Gortys, or has not caught the sound of shepherds’ whistles mixing with the joyful ring of goat bells in this sacred place, cannot imagine how the insouciance of humble pastoral life can resound in the innermost chambers of existence. Arcadia inspires feelings of religion even in those who renounce it, it captivates the soul and hands it over to the world of reverie like no other place does.

Arcadia is not only the name of the place, but the dreamlike utopia, paradise lost, as Milton wrote, which the soul desires and seeks before it is incarnate in flesh. It is a symbol of worldly and posthumous bliss, both Christian and pagan, a symbol of the Ancient Greek worship of nature as well as Christian paradise. Arcadia is the only place in world history that lives within us as well as existing outside us. For Arcadia since Greek antiquity represents the pastoral place par excellence, where man is free from his cares, finding paradise on earth. It is worth our while to go there!

Ancient Gortys

At a short distance from Elliniko on the banks of the Lousios river, where most of the footpaths end due to the outstanding natural beauty of the place, the French Archaeological School discovered the foundations of a temple of Asclepius and its thermal baths, as well as sections of the city of Gortys south of the river, during the excavations of 1954-55. The importance of the sanctuary of Asclepius is attested by the visit of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), where he dedicated his armour and spear. In fact, Pausanias, in his writings on Arcadia, mentions that the spearhead and breastplate of Alexander were still kept in the temple during his time. According to sources, the temple was decorated with ritual statues of the gods Asclepius and Hygieia, made from Pentelic marble by the great Parian sculptor Scopas.

Next to the foundations of the sanctuary of Asclepius the thermal baths are preserved, a specimen of Greek design by far more advanced than the technology of the later Roman baths. The thermal baths at Gortys incorporated technology of moving hot air, and at their height they could serve around 30 patients at the same time, under the protection of Asclepius, god of health. Many votive offerings have been found here, dedicated to the healing gods (Asclepius and Hygieia).

According to archaeological research, ancient Gortys was an eminent city-state that made an important contribution to Arcadian life during the Classical and Hellenistic periods. Its loss of autonomy around 368 B.C., the year of the founding of the Great City (Megalopolis) and of the union of Gortys with neighbouring city-states, led to its decline. Nonetheless, the city continued to survive for at least 540 years (after the founding of Megalopolis, when Pausanias (176 A.D.) visited it). It is supposed that it was eventually abandoned and deserted during the early years of Byzantine rule.


A large population of the village emigrated abroad at the start of the 20th century, particularly to the U.S.A. and later to Australia, where there are large communities who originate from Elliniko.

In the 1960s there was a large migration to the urban centres, which contributed to the decline in population in the village. From the middle of the 1990s the village was incorporated into the municipality of Tricoloni and it shows a new phase of development, supported both by villagers returning and renovating their ancestral homes and by tourist development, aided by the municipality and local associations.


The shops and cafes of the village are located in the main square of Agia Triada. Here we also find the magnificent two-storey school building, once part of the village school, which is now closed. In the same square is located the monument to those who died in the country’s wars. At the entrance to the village from Megalopolis is an even more magnificent school building, the Mavrakios Professional School. It was founded and sponsored by Ioannis Mavrakos, hailing from Elliniko, resident in the U.S.A. and a great benefactor of the village. The building was founded in 1965 and today functions as a training school for the electricity board. There are nine churches in the village. Within the settlement itself are found those of the Prophet Elijah – the main church – Timiou Prodromou and Agios Demetrios. The church of the Prophet Elijah (1904-1905) is a fine work of art. It is Byzantine in style and has a magnificent architectural structure.

The other churches, dedicated to the Panagia, Agios Georgios, Agios Theodoros, Agios Athanasios, Agios Nektarios and to the Transfiguration are chapels attached to the village. At the edge of the village lies the monastery of Agios Nikodimos, founded in 1975 by Father Antonios G. Georgantas, who was from the village, which has two monks. The local institutions of the village, in close collaboration with the cultural associations, are active in maintaining the local cultural inheritance and tradition. They manage infrastructural and aesthetic projects in the village and organise cultural events, culminating on the 29th of August, the village feast day, with the time-honoured festival.

At the end of the 20th century, Elliniko obtained its own hotel with 10 rooms – the work of the Fourlis brothers, who donated it to the birthplace of their parents – and in the early 2000s a second was built, with the name of “Elaion”. Elliniko, with its lush landscape and its pleasing and healthy climate, attracts tourists and charms both ex-locals and foreigners who holiday in the village all year round, including Winter weekends when it provides a perfect retreat. Already, with the efforts of the municipality, it has become a protected site for its architectural interest.

 See also:  Veterans from Moulatsi