Thirea – Eva
Prasies – Vrasies
The most important center of South Kynouria in antiquity was the small town of Prasies or Brasies.
The Prasies placed over the port of Plaka of Leonidion the hill of Agios Athanasios.
Information about Kynouria from the Archaic period is mainly got from two large votive altars of Apollo Tyrita, between Melana and Tyros and from the temple of Maleata at Kosmas. Also, we find information from tombs located in Prasies at Leonidion and in the settlements of Marmaralona in Xerokambi and Koutri in Ano Meligous (from where the marble head of Meligou is, now in Copenhagen).
From the 8th century, Kynouria stubbornly asserts the Spartans and the Argives.
After repeated conflicts, we arrive in one of the most exciting battles of the Greek history… the battle that took at 546a.d and went down in history as the«Battle of Thyreas» or «Battle of the six hundred elite» in which the winner was the Spartans.
Tsakonia is located in the east of the district of Arcadia and occupies the biggest part of the eastern side of Mount Parnonas. It covers one-third of the countryside of Kynouria, beginning at the coast line of Agios Andreas and ending at the Argolic Gulf. The Tsakonochoria are:Prastos, Sitaina, Kastanitsa, Agios Andreas, Tyros, Pera Melana, Pragmatefti, Sabatiki, Livadi, Vaskina and Leonidio (the capital of Kynouria).
The people living in these areas are named Tsakonians and originate from the ancient Dorians. They managed to maintain their original dialect, the Tsakonian, up to this very day. Today this dialect is spoken mainly by older people.
Many interpretations have been given about the meaning of the geographical name Tsakonia and the name Tsakonians, some of which are the following: the mountainous and inaccessible place, the outer-Lakones, the porters, the Jekones – the selected body of the Byzantine army, that were used as the castle guards and who were famous for their military capabilities (according to Constantine Porphyrogennetus in the Chronicle of Monemvasia).
Tsakonian Dress – Tsoubes
The traditional dress of Tsakonian women is called, tsoubes. In fact, it is the outer red waistcoat made out of felt, that was worn by the Tsakonian women, at first as a wedding garment and later at celebrations. Originally the rich Prastiotises wore the tsoubes, thus highlighting their superior social position. The tsoubes consists of: the “ogiuma” (the shirt), the “vrachani” (the dress in green or olive green colour), the “zipouni” (the short jacket with long and wide sleeves), the “magliki” (the silk scarf), the “zostra” (the waistband ornated with a silver belt) and the “fesi” (the round cap).
The traditional Tsakonian dance is a closed circular dance with ancient origins, where the left elbow of the first dancer is placed over the right elbow of the second dancer with the fingers crossed and tightened. Many interpretations have been given about the origins and possible sources of the Tsakonian dance. Mr S. Karras claimed that it depicts Apollo’s fight with Python,the snake that protected Gaia’s sanctuary at Delphi, while another view is that it symbolizes the exit of Theseus from the maze with the help of the thread that Ariadne gave him.
Because of the mountainous and rough characteristics of the area it has managed to maintain intact to a large part the local dialect, which is known as the tsakonian dialect. The science of linguistics supports that the tsakonian dialect is the survival of the ancient doric dialect and particularly an altered form of the new Lakonic language. The tsakonian dialect is divided into two dialects: a) the north (Kastanitsa, Sitaina) and b) the south (Leonidio, Tyros, Pera Melana, Pragmatefti, Sambatiki, Livadi, Agio Andrea, Praso, Vaskina, Paleochora).
As people with wanderlust, the Tsakonians during the Byzantine times, created communities on the coastline of Asia Minor in Propontida. As a result a third dialect was created, the tsakonian of Propontida that was spoken until the years of the Asia Minor Catastrophe in the villages of Vatika and Chavoutsi.
The Tsakonian population, showed a high patriotic attitude throughout Greek history. During the Greek Revolution of 1821, a lot of Tsakonians were members of the “Filiki Eteria” (or “Society of Friends”) and took part in the siege of Tripolitsa,in the siege of Monemvasia and in other great battles. The capital of Tsakonia was Prastos until 1826, when it was set on fire by Ibrahim Pasha and its inhabitants spilled out mainly towards the fertile plain of Leonidio. After the liberation of Greece, the Tsakonochoria were divided between the municipalities of Limnei,Vrasies and Sitaini, while after 1840 they were divided between the municipalities of Limnei and Vrasies. Since then, the Tsakonians have preserved their cultural identity unchanged and have been engaged in agriculture, livestock farming, crops and sea trade.