The following text summarizes the work of the Parrhasian Heritage Park initiative conducted during summer 2010. A full color version of the brochure with Greek and English text, photographs and maps can be downloaded here.

The Parrhasian Heritage Park

The intention of the Parrhasian Heritage Park is to preserve and promote approximately 300 square km of land in the Western Peloponnesos. The park will protect the culturally significant places, outstanding natural beauty, and rich archaeological sites of the area while encouraging traditional ways of life and economic growth in communities throughout the region. Land ownership will remain in local control and development will depend on the decisions and interests of the community. This ‘living park approach’ encourages natural, cultural, and scenic resources to be managed for long-term vitality by the people who can directly incorporate these resources into their livelihoods and traditions. Success for the park will mean the enhancement of local residents’ pride and support for ongoing cultural activities, increased economic strength in the region, and the protection of the park’s resources for future generations.

The name of the park — Parrhasian — refers to the ancient legends of Arcadia associated with the heart of the proposed park. In antiquity, the Parrhasia was considered to be the most ancient region of Greece. Today, the area of the park includes important ancient sanctuaries and cities in southwest Arcadia and parts of modern day Messenia and Elis.

Park Planning: Mt. Lykaion

Among the most important ancient sites within the proposed Parrhasian Heritage Park is the Sanctuary of Zeus on Mt. Lykaion in Arcadia. The Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project has been the catalyst for the establishment of the park, both as an archaeological resource, and as the center of community-led efforts to protect cultural traditions, promote tourism and bring economic benefit to the region. Since 2004, a planning study at Mt. Lykaion has been underway. This is a partnership between the local communities, Greek Planning professionals, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the University of Arizona, working under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, with the direction of and in collaboration with the ΛΘ’ Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in Tripolis. Park planning at Mt. Lykaion has focused on creating economic opportunities through community partnerships, establishing principles for conservation of the natural, cultural and scenic resources, and protecting the character of the Lykaion landscape through proposed design guidelines.

Community Partnerships

  • Build the Parrhasian Heritage Research Center in Megalopolis to promote archaeological work and act as a gateway to the Parrhasian Heritage Park
  • Establish the Academy and Museum of the Modern Lykaion games in partnership with the community of Ano Karyes to house exhibits, provide a setting for programs and education, and showcase the history of the area
  • Create the Mt. Lykaion Excavation Center in partnership the village of Ano Karyes and two American universities, leading to the creation of future educational initiatives
  • Establish a public commission or non-profit organization to oversee park planning, development and managment
  • Foster community-based strategies for economic development projects, resource conservation and village revitalization projects

Preservation and Conservation

  • Support long-standing cultural activities such as farming, festivals, and traditional building techniques
  • Protect important natural resources and look for ecological restoration opportunities
  • Establish long-term plans for protection and investigation of archaeological sites
  • Create long-term plans for funding, resource managment, education and maintenance
  • Apply for UNESCO World Heritage status for the park

Design Guidelines

  • Create a guidebook of design specifications for new park infrastructure based on a systematic inventory and analysis of characteristic elements of the landscape
  • Promote design solutions that foster the interest of future generations and encourage use of sustainable resources
  • Blend new infrastructure with the existing patterns of the landscape and use local building materials to avoid losing local character
  • New trails will ‘lay lightly’ on the land, some following ancient routes, to link archaeological sites
  • Promote land uses that maintain the character of the landscape

Park Vision: Mt. Lykaion - Trails, Interpretation, Signage

  • The park will be connected by trails, some following ancient routes. Signage will lead visitors along these trails past refreshing springs, to villages with overnight accommodation, and to the ancient sites
  • Signage will highlight and interpret the diversity of the park including village festivals, archaeological ruins, rare habitats, geology and other points of interest
  • Trailhead signs will include suggested itineraries along with useful information for visitors on orientation to the park, history, and accommodations

Park Vision: Mt. Lykaion - Megalopolis Research Center

  • A newly established Parrhasian Heritage Research Center in Megalopolis will support ongoing archaeological work, offer space for small public symposiums, and serve as a hub for the ongoing work on the Heritage Park
  • The center will house offices, laboratories and dormitory rooms for scholars, students, and visitors
  • As a public building, talks and gatherings related to the archaeological and heritage initiatives in the area will be held. A small gallery will highlight the work of the center and showcase local artists, literature and festivals

Visitor Experience at Mt. Lykaion

  • Visitors coming to Mt. Lykaion will be able to get information about the area at Ano Karyes
  • Ano Karyes will house a welcome center describing the park, with a focus on Mt. Lykaion. In the village, visitors will be able to find accommodation and food
  • Trails will lead from the village up to the Hippodrome, around the base of the peak, past fresh springs, and end on the Altar of Zeus at the peak of the mountain
  • Regional trails will connect the ancient Lykaion site to other sites within the park, for instance, a six-mile trail to Bassai
  • Rock shelters and small campgrounds will enable overnight camping
  • Other villages will be connected, via the trail system, where visitors can spend the night and discover a local festival or enjoy local goods like honey and walnuts