Stemnitsa is one of the most beautiful and historical villages in the prefecture of Arcadia, and is located between Dimitsana and Karytaina. The village is built onto the slopes of Mount Mainalo, near River Lousios, ancient Gortyna and numerous renowned monasteries amidst cherry, walnut and plane trees. During the Turkish domination, Stemnitsa evolved into a major hub for metallurgy and its -mostly itinerant- craftsmen (goldsmiths, silversmiths, blacksmiths, bell and cowbell manufacturers, coppersmiths, etc.) created exceptional works of art, even beyond the borders of Arcadia. In the vicinity of Stemnitsa there are at least 20 Late Byzantine churches of truly stunning architecture and style, as well as the monasteries of Philosophou, St. John the Baptist, Aimyalon and Kalamiou Atsiholou; all major hubs of asceticism and rich Christian Orthodox tradition. The stone tower houses, the rivers and springs, the delicious local pastries, the unique natural beauty, as well as the modern tourism infrastructure make Stemnitsa the ideal destination for winter or summer holidays.
Stemnitsa is one of the most beautiful and historic villages in Arcadia, on the road between Dimitsana and Karytaina, on the slopes of Mainalo. It is surrounded by cherry, walnut and plane trees and has been built near Lousios river, ancient Gortyna and well-known, opulent monasteries.
Stemnitsa, which used to be called Ypsous, was probably founded in the 12th century and during Byzantine times it was famous for the production of bells. During the Ottoman rule it developed into an important metal-working centre and its –mainly itinerant– craftsmen (goldsmiths, silversmiths, blacksmiths, bell makers, tinkers etc.) created works of excellent art even beyond the borders of Arcadia. This long tradition is continued today by the Silver-Gold-Smithery School.
In the area around Stemnitsa there are at least 20 post-Byzantine churches created with excellent craft: Zoodochos Pighi (15th century), Treis Ierarches (17th century), Aghios Georgios (1810) and Panaghia Bafero (17th century), to mention a few. Not far if you are travelling by car, or even after very nice walking excursions, you will find the well-known Monasteries of Philosofou, Timios Prodromos, Emialon and Kalamiou of Atsicholos, all excellent centres of ascetism and rich Orthodox tradition.
Heading south from Stemnitsa, just after the village of Elliniko, in an enchanting location, you will come across ancient Gortyna. The archaeological site has easy access and at the end of hiking paths lie findings that range from ancient to Byzantine times: sanctuaries of Asclepius, temples, baths, public buildings, fortification walls, houses and also stone bridges and Byzantine churches, they all narrate the long history of this city, built by the great-grandson of the mythical founder, Arcas.
A walk around the settlement reveals to the visitor imposing stone tower houses, such as the three-storey residence of the Roilos and Giannakos Kolopanas family, as well as the residences of Bournazos and Hatzis, where the Folklore Museum is also housed. Here you will find representations of traditional professions’ workshops, such as that of the silversmith, the bell-maker, the tinker, the candle-maker and others; the Museum also houses an interesting collection of post-Byzantine icons, ceramic and embroidery works, wood carvings, textiles and costumes, among other things.
The many arched stone fountains, the impressive view from the mound of Kastro, the amazing local sweets (diples, bourekia etc.), the excellent tourist facilities with accommodation and eateries, the stone tower houses, the plentiful waters, everything situated in an area of great natural beauty, between the fir forest and the great sites of Lousios gorge, make Stemnitsa an ideal place to spend your summer or winter holidays.