A small aristocratic village of refinement and nobility in mountainous Arcadia attracts many visitors every year, especially in the spring and autumn months before the temperature drops significantly.
The name Stemnitsa in Slavic means “shaded wooded land” and the village is “nestled” in a dense, green forest of firs, plane trees, walnut trees, cherry trees, chestnut trees, and acacias that comprise a unique setting at an altitude of 1,100 meters the wild, unspoiled nature of a place with mild tourism that manages to have it all. Lovely stone-built guesthouses that were once beautiful mansions, a small square where you will find most of the village’s restaurants and cafés, but also the looming bell tower of the Agios Georgios dominating over the roofs of the houses.
Wonderful tower houses and founts next to cute shops selling handmade jewellery for which the village is famous. The truth is that there are few places in Greece where one can see first-hand old silversmithing techniques and observe the creation of beautiful handmade jewellery that bring together the past and the concepts of modern jewellery making.
The School of Silversmithery and Goldsmithery is a famous point of interest with a great reputation. It is housed in an imposing building in the heart of the village, and it preserves, in a worthy manner, the art and traditions of the village’s original metalworkers, who possessed not only the secrets of creating magnificent jewellery, but also a formidable technique in making elaborate bell towers, which have travelled from Stemnitsa to the churches of Eastern European countries.
It may be a small village in mountainous Arcadia, but a day-long tour of its streets, as well as of the surrounding area, will reveal to you that in Stemnitsa there really is much to see and a special history to discover.
What you will see
A walk around Palamideika
Wander around the village’s cobbled alleys, heading uphill towards the most picturesque quarter, known as Palamideika. Stand in front of the heavy doors of old mansions and imposing tower houses and admire the unique view of the mountain slopes. You’ll start your walk from the main street, passing in front of shops selling beautiful handmade jewellery where you will hardly be able to resist the temptation to buy something. Then the trail becomes uphill leading to the so-called Mana tou Nerou (Water’s Mother), the end destination of your walk.
The village’s Folklore Museum
A visit here is a must to discover historical details and “romantic” elements of tradition and folklore from Stemnitsa’s past. The museum is housed in one of the village’s most beautiful old houses, the Hatzi mansion. More than 200 years of great prosperity and creativity are presented through valuable and impressive exhibits. Handmade jewellery takes centre stage throughout the museum and inspires with its grace and beauty.
I Mana tou Nerou (Water’s Mother)
For the most beautiful view of Stemnitsa, climb up to the Mana tou Nerou, the spring that supplies the village with water and offers a stunning view of the picturesque settlement. Equally beautiful views can be enjoyed by “climbing up” the forested slope of Pera Meria or the so-called Aeraki from where your eye will reach the Ionian Sea and Zakynthos.
Visit to the Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi
If you are in the mood for some hiking, take the road that leads to the monastery of Zoodochos Pigi with its beautiful wooden iconostasis, dating to 1805.
Hiking in the gorge of Lousios
For a much more complete hiking and nature experience, follow the Menalon Trail section that leads to neighbouring Dimitsana through the Lousios gorge. Or continue your route to reach the banks of the river, where the legendary Ancient Gortyna was located, one of the most important Arcadian cities that reached its peak in the 4th century BC, while the first findings discovered in the area date back to the Late Helladic and Geometric periods.
Where to eat
A very warm and welcoming traditional tavern on the charming village square. You’ll taste the amazing handmade pies and traditional delicacies or simply enjoy a steaming cup of coffee accompanied by unforgettable homemade desserts. Their large mix-platters that go perfectly with tsipouro or bulk wine are very nice (and value-for-money).
Tavern where you can sit outside when the weather in mountainous Arcadia allows it. Very tasty meat, particularly well-prepared. They serve large portions, well made fresh salads, and traditional appetizers such as the perfect tiropitari (fried cheese pie). Try the restaurant’s bulk wine too, it’s excellent.
Where to stay
Beautiful, wooden guesthouses with old, majestic details and a warm, rustic ambience. The Stemnitsa Guesthouse is a very good choice, with classically decorated comfortable rooms and a small courtyard for the warmer months. The cute Mpelleiko is equally traditional and quaint with views of the village and several rooms with fireplaces. Finally, Kanto’s Guesthouse combines the village’s typical architecture with modern elements after the renovation in a unique way. Lovely rooms with stunning furniture and nice terraces. Some of the rooms also have a kitchenette.