Orchomenos of Arcadia
The archaeological site
Orchomenos was a prehistoric settlement of Arcadia and one of the most ancient cities in the area. According to Greek mythology, the settler of this city was Orchomenos, the son of Lykaonas. Also the great Greek poet, Homer mentioned the city of Orchomenos in his poems. He named the city “Polimilon” which meant abundant in sheep.
It is located about 30km away from Tripoli and was initially established on the foot of the acropolis. Later the settlement was built at the mountain where the most important monuments of the city have been found. Around the plains of the settlement, there have been found drainage facilities and river settlement constructions. These constructions date back in the prehistoric period and the subsequent times.
Orchomenos was a largely populated and rich city which had its own currency. It was one of the powerful cities in West Arcadia along with Tegea and Mantineia. The heyday of the city was between 7th-6th BC. During the Roman Period the city was gradually abandoned and the residents resettled in nearby areas. In 2ndAD, the Greek geographer Pausanias visited the area and described the decadence of the city.
The excavations started by the French Archaeological School under the command of Mr. Mendel who excavated the monuments of the historic period. The curator of Antiquities T. Spiropoulos conducted further researches and revealed the prehistoric graves and settlements. In addition, he revealed the prehistoric drainage facilitates on the plains of Orchomenos.
The excavated settlement is today open to visitors and you could admire a plethora of monuments which were revealed during the excavations. The acropolis of the city was built at the top of the mountain where you will find the remains of the Ancient Agora, the walls of the city and the Hecatompedon Temple of Mesopolitidos Artemis.
The most important monument is the Ancient Theater of the Early Hellenistic Period (4th -3rd BC). It is one of the biggest theaters of the Antiquity with a capacity of 4000 viewers. Place at the altitude of 800 meters, the theater offered a spectacular view during the cultural events. The theater hosted dramatic performances and games in the honor of Dionysus. Because of its high inclination, the theater was equipped with drainage facilities.
Other monuments which were identified during the excavations are the Vouleftirion, the prehistoric tomb and the bridge of the Archaic Period. In addition, in the site “Katalimata” there is the prehistoric settlement with the prehistoric drainage facilities. In the site “Mytikas” Paleopyrgou there is a Mycenaean settlement and the ancient sanctuary. The ancient sanctuary and the Basilica from the Early Christian Period are located between Orchomenos and Paleopyrgos Mantineias. In the site “Kalpaki” there are the remains of a medieval tower. This tower was built with materials from the archaic fortifications of the city.