Picturesque and historic Karytaina is located a few kilometres south of Stemnitsa and is one of the more impressive, well preserved and listed settlements in Arcadia. Crowned by an imposing Frankish castle that played a significant role during the Greek Revolution, Karytaina is surrounded by the pristine Arcadian natural landscape, rivers Lousios and Alfeios and it’s not far from Lykosoura, which is the most significant ancient Arcadian temple. During the Turkish occupation Karytaina became a commercial hub for tobacco, silk and wine, while today the two-storey stone houses, the numerous Byzantine churches, the once operating watermills, the fountains, the incredible stone bridges and the remnants of the castle all create a unique Arcadian scenery. Around Karytaina there are many smaller mountainous villages, like Kalyvakia, Karvouniaris, Kastimbalis, Mavria, Kyparissia, Kourounios, Atsiholos, Vlahoraptis, Sarakini, Palaiokastro; each with its own unique beauty.
The historic and picturesque Karytaina, a few kilometres south of Stemnitsa, is one of Arcadia’s most impressive preserved settlements. Sturdy, two-storey stone houses, plenty of remarkable Byzantine churches (Zoodochos Pighi, Aghios Nikolaos and others) which you come across as you wander along the cobbled alleys, going as far up as the castle –where the panoramic view to the valley is spectacular– and also to its top, where you will find Panaghia, also known as the church of Kolokotronis, domed stone fountains, fragments of water mills that used to operate in the area, all of them constitute the unique, but at the same time familiar, beauty of Arcadia.
Karytaina is crowned with an imposing Frankish castle, reminiscent of its significant role during the Frankish rule; during the Ottoman rule it also became a centre for the trade of tobacco, silk and wine, without forgetting, of course, its active participation in the Greek Revolution. Surrounded by virgin landscape and chiseled by the rivers Alpheus and Lousios, it stands close to the most important ancient Arcadic sanctuary, Lycosoura. There, on the holy summit of the Arcadians, where history intersects with myth, on mountain Lykaion, stand the ruins of the ancient Arcadians’ holiest city, as well as the remnants of the sanctuary of Despina, daughter of Poseidon and Demeter. The sanctuary’s colossal statues, works of the sculptor Damophon (2nd century B.C.), are kept at the Archaeological Museum of Athens.
An abandoned two-storey tower-shaped house, dating to the 15th century, a five-arch stone bridge of the same period and the ruins at the castle, which can be reached through a path that begins from the settlement’s square, testify to the glorious past, when Karytaina dominated the Arcadic mainland.
Today the two-storey stone houses, the numerous post-Byzantine churches, the once active water mills, the fountains, the amazing stone bridges and also the ruins of the castle create a unique Arcadic scenery. Around Karytaina there are many small, mountainous villages, each with its unique beauties: Kalyvakia, known for the “roasted lamb festival” every August, Karvouniaris, Katsibalis, Mavria, Kyparissia, Kourounios, Ano and Kato Kotilio on the homonymous mountain, Atsicholos, with the famous stone bridge and the alternative tourism activities, Vlachoraptis, with its unique Gortynian architecture and post-Byzantine churches, Sarakini, founded by people from Constantinople in the 17th century, and Paleokastro, with Mycenaean findings and the ruins of a powerful Frankish castle.