Simply the name Arcadia brings up all sorts of images of by-gone days when imaginary nymphs frolicked in wooded glades to Pan’s pipes, of simple pastoral pleasures. The sleepy town of Alea lies in the heart of Arcadia, in a major fruit producing region. Once the ancient town of Tegea, it is now more of a spread out village than a town. But, in the 19th and early 20th century, Alea must have been a much larger and more affluent. There are many large, generally abandoned, houses set here and there among later, more typical inhabited additions in stone or concrete.
Alea is well worth visiting for the award winning Tegea Museum. Displays in the museum’s superbly designed gallery spaces, laid out in three rooms and an exterior courtyard, detail the history of the area from the first human occupants to classical and later antique times of rural sanctuaries and settlements, particularly of Tegea – the major city of ancient Arcadia.
But, don’t just hop in your car after seeing the museum. Stick around to wander. Across the street from the museum, a clever structure – an outbuilding or garage – was constructed between two buildings.
At the side of the museum is the old school for the local children, constructed in 1907. It is beautifully restored and kept.
Many the remains of the ancient city are still visible in and around the town. The remains of the Hellenistic theatre is in a nicely landscaped archaeological park. A Byzantine church, the Holy Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, was constructed using stones from various ancient buildings in the middle of the theatre. Its mosaic dome (product of a later 19th century restoration) shines in the sunlight.
The day we visited, there was a baptism taking place. You can just see the well dressed visitors out front while the lady sweeps dust out the back door.
The ruins of the temple of Athena Alea, however, is in the middle of town, quite close to the museum. The bell tower of another church spears up in the background.
The door of the bell tower is quite interesting with its metalwork crosses.
Nearby, an interesting arched gate leads to an overgrown estate garden and a derelict grand house. You can just see the carved cross at the apex of the arch. A secret garden.
Next to this was another well-worn abandoned house. Some enterprising soul has put a basketball hoop off the balcony.
Closer to the centre of the town was another interesting old house – also abandoned.
It has a faded, but still graceful front door.
And another door to the side leads to its walled garden, 1911 carved into the lintel.
All the images have had the vintage filter applied – a slight modification to create the look of colour film photographs of the mid-20th century surrounded with a dark vignette. Vintage in Tegea.
Check out Norm’s Thursday Doors for many more posts on fascinating buildings and their doors.