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Nestani is a village in Arcadia just 15 km. from Tripoli. Since the time of the Turkish rule and until the beginning of the previous century it was known as Tsipiana. Not far from today’s Nestani lie the ruins of the acropolis of ancient Nestani. Pausanias, who passed from the area during his travels, mentions the existence of a sanctuary of Demeter, where the locals held an annual festival in honour of the goddess.

Today Nestani stands out for its simple architecture and for the beautiful natural environment that surrounds it. The visitor can admire the impressive church of Evangelismos tis Theotokou, as well as the mansions and the abandoned watermills. Nearby there is also Mantineia, an important city in antiquity, of which some ruins still remain, as well as the 11th century Monastery of Panaghia Gorgoepikoos.

Nestani, built on the slopes of mountain Artemisio, is located just 15 km from Tripoli and near the new Athens-Tripoli national road. The name possibly derives from the word nostos (which means “return to the homeland”), or maybe it derives from the Byzantine place name Kipiana, changed to Tsipiana, which was the village’s name until it changed to Nestani in 1927.

The heart of this mountainous village beats in the central square, with its shady plane trees, cafés and shops. The houses (the most important one being the 1853 mansion of Letros), the school and the abandoned watermills feature simple architectural elements, built with stone, and an imposing church, that of Evangelistria, dominates the upper part of the village. To the village’s west, on the verdant summit of Panighiristra hill, the ruins of the ancient town of Nestani can still be seen. The imposing fortification includes two semicircular towers and a gate.

There is a stone fountain at the edge of the hill of the ancient Acropolis, “Pera Vrysi”, as they call it, with an ancient liberating inscription of the 1st century A.D. This fountain testifies to the survival of the popular tradition, since it is called “Philippeios krini” (=“the fountain of Philip”). Pausanias writes that after the battle of Chaeroneia (338 B.C.), Philip II camped near Nestani and the Arcadians gave a nearby fountain the name “Philippeios”.

Just outside the village, under the impressive rock of Goulas and on a slope full of pine trees, perched at the end of some stone steps is the Monastery of Panaghia Gorgoepikoos, today a convent. It was founded in the 11th century, but the main church in its current form belongs to the 16th century. The murals are well-preserved, the icon of the Panaghia is said to be a work of Luke the Evangelist and the view from the monastery to the plateau of Mantineia is nothing less that remarkable.

#mythicalpeloponnese

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