Anthochori, Arcadia

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Anthochori
Ανθοχώρι
Anthochori is located in Greece
Anthochori
Anthochori
Coordinates: 37°22′N 22°8′E / 37.367°N 22.133°E / 37.367; 22.133Coordinates: 37°22′N 22°8′E / 37.367°N 22.133°E / 37.367; 22.133
Country Greece
Administrative region Peloponnese
Regional unit Arcadia
Municipality Megalopoli
Municipal unit Megalopoli
Community
 • Population 78
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)

Anthochori (Greek: Ανθοχώρι meaning "flower village", before 1927: Καρούμπαλι - Karoumpali[1]) was a settlement in Arcadia, Greece. Anthochori was demolished during 2006-8 in order to provide the Megalopoli Power Plant with lignite (brown coal).

Geography[edit]

Anthochori was located about 3 km south of the town of Megalopoli, in the broad valley of the river Alfeios. Before the large scale exploitation of lignite in open-pit mines, the area consisted mostly of farmlands. Neighbouring villages were Vrysoules to the east, Gefyra to the southeast and Tripotamo to the southwest. The Greek National Road 7 (Kalamata - Megalopoli - Tripoli) ran east of Anthochori. Anthochori had a station on the short branch railway line from Lefktro, on the Tripoli-Kalamata railway line, to Megalopoli.[2]

History[edit]

According to the History of Leontarion Province by Theodoros Katrivanos [3] the village occupied the area that was the Karum Ali Estate (Καρούμ Αλή τσιφλίκι), itself part of the Leontario vilayet (Ottoman administrative division, in Greek: Βιλαέτι Λεονταρίου) in the 18th century. Hence the old name of the village was Karoumpali. The village was re-named Anthochori in 1927 (FEK 179/1927).[1]

In terms of its administration, Karoumpali/Anthochori was established as an independent community (Greek: κοινότητα) in 1912. The legal basis for this comprised Law No 4057 of 10-2-1912 that enacted the institution of 'administratively independent communities' in Greece and the Royal Decree of 18-9-1912 that clarified specific arrangements for the Law's implementation in the prefecture of Arcadia.[4] Anthochori continued to function as an independent community until the end of 1997 when the 'Kapodistrias' programme of reforms began to be implemented.[5] Following the fate of the vast majority of other communities in Greece, Anthochori was abolished as an administratively independent community and since 1 January 1999 became an administrative district of the Municipality of Megalopolis.

By 2006, after prolonged legal battles and court cases the vast majority of property owners of Anthochori were financially compensated by the Public Power Corporation. Financial compensation for the public property and amenities that belonged to the community was transferred to the Municipality of Megalopolis. This was because, as mentioned above, Anthochori became an administrative district of the Municipality of Megalopolis following the 'Kapodistrias' reforms. What happened to the financial compensation for Anthochori's public property is still a matter of dispute and allegations for the mismanagement of compensation funds (at least 280.000 €) were still being made as late as November 2008.[6]

Loss of a settlement[edit]

The lignite mining activity has been slowly extending towards Anthochori since the late-1970s. By 2002 mining machinery stood at 1 km to the northwest of Anthochori and the mine finally reached the first houses of the settlement in 2006. Village houses became a target for looters and the settlement was finally abandoned in 2007. Subsequently, starting from its northwestern part, the old village homes were demolished and their remains were dumped to the south while the roads, already closed for some years, were eventually removed. Most of the farmlands and forests also disappeared.

Until late 2008 the only remaining building of Anthochori left standing was its main church dedicated to 'The Presentation of the Virgin to the Temple' (Greek: Τα Εισόδια της Θεοτόκου). None of the demolition workers was willing to take responsibility for its destruction and, thus, the church remained standing upon a tall 'column' of soil while the surrounding earth was being excavated. The 'last church standing' became internationally famous when its photograph by Stuart Franklin appeared in the Time magazine on 17 September 2008 [7]

In 29 November 2008 the church collapsed upon itself and, with it, all visible evidence of Anthochori's material existence. By the mid 2009 all that once was the village of Anthochori was gone, its buildings leveled, and its earth scraped out to extract lignite. It is claimed that the demolition of Anthochori marks the final expansion of the lignite mine which, in turn, signals the beginning of the end for the Megalopolis thermo-electric power plant.

An internet 'ghost'[edit]

At least until the end of 2009 Anthochori was still mentioned in some maps, including Mapquest, while satellite images have yet to show the expansion of the lignite mine over the area that used to be Anthochori. For example, when accessed on 15 November 2009, GoogleEarth[8] still used a detailed satellite photo taken on 26 August 2003, where Anthochori's buildings and original geo-topography are clearly visible. This satellite picture can be found here.

Anthochori's demolition in the media[edit]

Megalopolis' mine expansion was featured on a TV documentary on April 7, 2006. This documentary was produced by the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT).

In 2008, Time magazine published a short article under the title 'Europe's changing places' which used a dramatic photo of Anthochori's main church - 'The Presentation of the Virgin to the Temple' (Greek: Τα Εισόδια της Θεοτόκου) - taken by world famous British photographer Stuart Franklin in 2007.[9] In this picture the church stands alone on a tall 'column' of soil, as the sole survivor of the demolished village at the time. This picture is included in Stuart Franklin's book 'Footprint: Our Landscape in Flux'.

The same picture was included in a presentation of Stuart Franklin's work in the Guardian newspaper,[10] accompanied by the following note by the photographer:

'To the ancient Greeks, Arcadia was a rural idyll. Instead of a lush, bucolic landscape, I found one devastated by the hunt for fossil fuels. Sixty per cent of Greece’s electricity is derived from lignite (brown coal). This involves bulldozing whole landscapes to feed the nearby power station. In Megalopolis I found Greece’s second largest lignite mine. The village of Anthohori in Arcadia was wiped off the map - the church of Santa Maria was all that remained'.

Photos of Anthochori and its surroundings[edit]

Satellite Views of Anthochori

Views of Anthochori during its demolition

Views of Anthochori prior to its demolition

Churches, lanes, fields

Houses

Views of Anthochori railway 'station'

Views of Lefktron/'Bilali' railway station

Population[edit]

Year Population
1981 66
1991 72
2001 78

External links[edit]

Anthochori

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Name changes of settlements in Greece
  2. ^ Greek Wikipedia: Megalopolis Railway Station (in Greek)
  3. ^ Ο καζάς του Λεονταρίου - Θεόδωρου Κατριβάνου
  4. ^ Nόμος ΔΝΖ΄ (υπ' αριθ. 4057) της 10-2-1912 (ΦΕΚ 58/14-2-1912), "Περί συστάσεως δήμων και κοινοτήτων" and Β.Δ. της 18-8-1912 (ΦΕΚ 252/24-8-1912) "Περί συστάσεως δήμων και κοινοτήτων εν τω νομώ Αρκαδίας".
  5. ^ 'Ioannis Kapodistrias' Local Government Program for the reform of the primary level local government (Ν-2539/97, ΦΕΚ-244/Α/4-12-97) - Νόμος 2539/97 "Συγκρότηση της πρωτοβάθμιας τοπικής αυτοδιοίκησης" (ΦΕΚ 244/4-12-1997), [1]
  6. ^ 'Are they going to be finally paid?' - 'Θα πληρωθούν τελικά;' Megalopoli-FM Blog Archive, 30 November 2008; accessed 16/11/2009 (in Greek)
  7. ^ "Παγκοσμίως γνωστό είχε γίνει το Ανθοχώρι της Μεγαλόπολης" in the article 'Περιφρονείται η παράδοση και η υγεία μας...' in blog Pontokomi.com Σύλλογος Περιβάλλοντος και Ποιότητας Ζωής Δήμου Δημητρίου Υψηλάντη, Τρίτη, 12 Μαΐου 2009
  8. ^ GoogleEarth Latitude: 37°22'35.79"N Longitude: 22° 7'43.39"E
  9. ^ 'Europe's Changing Places' by Laura Blue, TIME, Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2008, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1841909,00.html
  10. ^ The Guardian, 28 October 2008, Highlights from Stuart Franklin's Footprint: Our Landscape in Flux