Leonidio of Kynouria, “the capital of the sea”

 Leonidio is about 50 km from Astros, 220 km from Athens and 250 km from Athens airport. On the Astros Leonidio route there are many enchanting beaches where “the sun and the sea of ​​the Argolic” are in their grandeur.Leonidio is today the capital and the center of Tsakonia. At a close distance from Leonidio about 17 km is the holy monastery of Elona, ​​which as a symbol of Tsakonia is hung and inaccessible to the red rock.

From the “Mount Parnon and Moustos Wetland Management Agency, 2015. Guide for the protected area of ​​Mount Parnon and Moustos Wetland. Nature, Culture, Ecotourism. Astros of Arcadia “.

 The Tsakonian dialect is spoken: Leonidio, Pragmatefti, Melana, Tyros, Sapounakeika, Agios Andreas, Prasto, Sitaina, Kastanitsa. Settlements: Sampatiki, Livadi, Vaskina, Paliochora, Agios Panteleimonas (Bubble), Dernikeika ·

The Tsakonian dialect ·

The Tsakonian dialect, the Tsakonian dance, the costume, the customs and traditions of the Tsakonians, are another dynamic of the Parnon area. According to the “Chronicle of Monemvasia”: “And the prefectures and peasants of Thremte were settled in the rugged places adjacent to it, and finally the jaconia were named”. The Tsakones, as true descendants of the Dorians, kept their roots intact and the Tsakonian language is still the living expression of the Doric dialect. In the cradle of Tsakonia, today insists on walking and creating in the footsteps of yesterday in a perpetual and uninterrupted breath of Greece.

The special linguistic treasure of our place. The Tsakonian dialect has been included in the list of endangered languages ​​of UNESCO and is recognized as a cultural achievement and a unique treasure of culture. The language was preserved genuine and unadulterated in the mouths of ordinary people, peasants, shepherds and farmers. In the wishes, in the greetings, in the curses, in the everyday expressions, in the teasing and the jokes, there is for centuries now the linguistic treasure of the Tsakonians. In this special part of the Greek land called Tsakonia (the cradle of Tsakonia was Prastos, Kastanitsa and Sitaina), in these rugged places, the inhabitants of the area, with few means, not only survived, but left behind a precious heritage, the Tsakonian tradition, the beautiful language, the unique evocative Tsakonian dance, the Tsakonian songs, the weaving art, their habits, what we call today customs and traditions. All this composes the identity of the place with a living language that is in the hands of the Tsakonians, but also of all Hellenism, to embrace it and protect it from oblivion

Leonidio, the capital of the sea, with a long naval history, is located at the beginning of the valley of the river Dafnonas (known since antiquity as Selinountas). It is built at the base of imposing red rocks that are a natural observatory with unrestricted views of the sea horizon. According to the 2011 census, it has 3,826 inhabitants, mostly Tsakones, with a strongly developed religious sentiment. The riverbed passes through the middle of the city like Psandros and continues to flow through its fertile plain ending in the sea of ​​the Myrtos Sea. It is 93 km from Tripoli and 200 km from Athens. Leonidio took its name from the small church of Agios Leonidas, which refers to a gold bullion of Andronikos BI Palaiologos, in 1293 and in Tsakonian it is called “Agielidis”. It has been characterized as a traditional settlement and a historical place with two-storey and three-storey mansions with paved and pebbled courtyards, flat tiled roofed porches, high whitewashed stone walls and carved and painted, carved and painted visitor For a first taste of the local architecture.

In Leonidio are saved three of the most majestic pre-revolutionary Funerals of the Peloponnese. The tower of Tsikaliotis (1808), which from time to time hosts art exhibitions and events, is one of the oldest preserved buildings in the Peloponnese and is accessible to the public (See photo p. 367). Inside it has a nice wood paneling and a huge fireplace. Second is the mansion of Polytio (1816) and this preserved and third important building is the mansion Katsikogianni (1807), located at the northern end of the house. The Hatziroudis tower is also interesting. A real gem is the six-grade Kallia primary school, which has been operating since about 1910, while the new gem of Leonidio and the area is the “Fabrika”, the building of the Center for the Promotion of Rural History and Sea Roads in the Eastern Peloponnese. with a long and multifaceted history.

Remarkable and of historical importance are several churches of the city, such as the Diocese (the Annunciation of the Virgin) with important icons of the 17th century, Saint Catherine, Saint Kyriaki, the Three Hierarchs, the Saints Taxiarches and Panagia Hatzaliou. On a green hill south of the city is the church of Prophet Elias, which celebrates with a festival in the summer. On a hill that dominates the city, to the right of the eastern entrance, are preserved three characteristic traditional windmills.

At 4 kg. from Leonidio is the port of the city, Plaka, with its picturesque port. There is a beautiful organized pebble beach near the port, as well as luxury accommodation, rooms to let, organized camping, restaurants and taverns with seafood delicacies. From the cape of Pelia, located a little north of the coastal settlement of Lakkos, to the port of Plaka, stretches a flat beach (2 km long) with coarse sand and pebbles. South of Plaka starts a rocky but gentle shore, which is suitable for underwater fishing.

The ancient name of Leonidio is Vrasies or Prasies, whose location was above the port of Plaka, on the hill with the chapel of Agios Athanasios. Plaka is today the port of Leonidio. Here, according to mythology, the sea in Larnaca washed away the unprotected little Dionysus, who was received by Ino and hid in the Cave of Sintza (See p. 128) and since then it is called the cave of Dionysus.

Leonidio, the “safe place” according to Theodoros Kolokotronis and the “Dionysus garden” according to Pausanias, is the homeland of the painters Nestoras Varveris and Vrasidas Tsouchlos, the poet Costas Ouranis, George Sarantaris, Elisabeth Ps. It is the homeland of many fighters, shipowners and financial sponsors and military leaders of the Struggle for Freedom of 1821. When Ibrahim’s Egyptian army in 1826 destroyed the historic capital of Tsakonia, Prastos, its inhabitants fled to Leonidio, where it began to develop. The once isolated Tsakonia, tightening its ties with the major urban centers of Europe and the East, smells the wind of freedom that blows from the West and due to its strong economic position, leads the Greek Revolution that shocks the Ottoman Empire. It is worth noting that the armament of Leonidio and the whole of Tsakonia played a very important role not only for the development of the region, but also contributed decisively to the Revolution of 1821.

The cape of Leonidiο produces a variety of agricultural products, citrus fruits, olives, tomatoes, lettuce and other vegetables. A typical product of the region is the Eggplant (Tsakonian, as it is known), which is sweeter than other varieties, mainly due to the climate and soil and is famous as the most delicious in Greece. At the port of Leonidio, Plaka, at the end of August, the “Festival of the Tsakonian eggplant” has been established (See p. 279) while in Leonidio is also organized the now famous Melitazz Festival (See p. 270).

Easter in Leonidio is impressive (See p. 271), so much so that Dimitris Psathas once wrote: “Carnival in Patras and Easter in Leonidio”. At a distance of 5 km from Leonidio, west on a rock, is the monastery of Agios Nikolaos Sintzas (See p. 192).

In all the great battles and sieges the rebellious Tsakones give the thunderous present. It is said that they fought and shouted: “The nutcracker of the tanu is jealous of the saddles, and Eona is guarding the tsakonops”. That is, “The nutcracker thunders on the saddles, Elona to guard the tsakonopoulos.”


 Due to its fortified location and available water, the site of South Kynouria flourished during Mycenaean times. Typical vaulted tombs have been excavated in Paleochori, Leonidio and Vaskina, while the Greek leaves of the Dorians, Achaeans and Ionians were mixed here. From the end of the 11th century BC. and until the arrival of the Romans the land of Kynouria was incessantly claimed from Argos and Sparta. The Kynourians cross the Mediterranean, reach and meet Taranto and the shores of the Marmara Sea. This explains the preference of the Byzantine emperors for the Tsakonian warriors, since they knew their devotion and their ethos. During the period of Roman rule the area developed peacefully. The Tsakonians have been known by this name since the years of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII, forming during these years a separate military corps.

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