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Astras (Greek: Αστράς) is a small mountain village of Elis, West Greece, Greece and belongs according to recent local government reform, with the name Callicrates, since 1/1/2011 to the municipal unit of Lampeia, along with Lampeia and Oreini .Municipal unit of Lampeia belongs to the municipality of Ancient Olympia . In the years 1997-2010 according to another local government plan, with the name Kapodistrias, the village used to belong to the former Municipality of Lampeia, as the capital of the former municipal unit of Astras. Near the village in a lower altitude there is a settlement named Kaluvia of Astras. A mountain road which goes through a forest with breathtaking landscapes connects Astras with the capital of the municipal unit of Lampeia, the village of Lampeia or Divri.
According to the census of 2001 the former municipal unit of Astras had 407 inhabitants whilst the village itself had 196.
The first recorded census was held in 1700 by Francisco Grimani from Venice. The village had 174 inhabitants and in detail 34 families (92 men and 82 women).
The region of Astras is inhabited from the ancient years as a few kilometers away in the nearby village of Tripotama there was the ancient city of Psophis which is mentioned even in Iliad. In particular Astras in ancient time was a part of Ancient Psofis, a big city-state of Western Peloponnese, and actually some sculptures and other things of daily use of this time were found in the modern settlement of Kaluvia of Astras. Astras history though begins mostly in the Byzantine years. A significant fact happened in the proto Byzantine years when Alaric the Great destroyed Ancient Psofis in 398 A.C. In fact the historian Zosimus who wrote about the area 50 years after the destruction of the city of Psofis informs us that few of the citizens returned to the destroyed cities and that the signs of the destruction were significant. The most significant fact though of the village itself is the “Asketerion of Nousa” (Nousa is the old name of Astras). After the fall of the Byzantine Empire the village became part of the Republic of Venice. Astras or Nousa (the name of the village that time) belonged to the teritorium of Kalavryta and in 1700 the census of Grimani took place. According to this census the 174 inhabitants of the village place Nousa in the high populated villages of the region. During the Ottoman Occupation the villagers suffered a lot from Ottoman rule and especially from the Bay of Lala, a close big city in the Ottoman times .Thus The Nousaites, that is how are called even today the villagers, became klephts, fighters who use to spend their life in the mountain seeking for freedom. Many heroes of the Greek revolution were from Nousa. According to the National Library of Greece some of the Nousa’s characters in the Greek struggle for freedom were Nikolaos Koulis, Chrysanthos Koulis, Demetrius Karachioutis, Konstantinos Stathopoulos, Vasileios Makris, Aggellis Makris and the weelknown Panagiotes Makris (Makropanagos) . The last was a relative of the famous Giannias who became the terror of the Turkalbanians of a big region containing villages of Patrai .After the liberation and the constitution of the first free Greek state, Nousa became part of Municipality of Lampeia.
Today the village of Astras still claims to be a living village despite the fact of being surrounded by big mountains .The village retains the traditional character of the whole region. There is a fest in the village for Saint George who is considered to be the protector of the village .The majority of the villagers of Astras is activated in the domain of agriculture. The village in the summer time has some ecotourists who admire the natural beauty of the forest and also of the river that goes through the village .It is the river of Erymanthos where Hercules is said to have captured the Erymnanhtian boar.
The Asketerion of Astras is a two floor building which was built inside the mountain in a big rock. In the left of the entrance there is a ladder made of the rock which leads to the upper floor where there is a small chapel which nice with the most significant picture being the one with Virgin Mary (Platytera). Near the Asketerion there is the ruins of the old church of Saint John. The building of Asketerion was made by Osios Meletios in the 9th century, who had established many Monasteries in the region of Astras and in other neighboring regions.
Astras, the poem
In 1930 Theodoros Ksudis from Elia wrote a poem with the name Astras:
Αστρά, περήφανε Αστρά, βαθιά θεμελιωμένε, που καμαρώνεις άσειστος, ωραίε κι αγριεμένε, Κρύβεις απέθαντες ψυχές μέσ’ στα πυκνά σου ελάτια και δείχνεσαι στον ουρανό σαν ουρανός με μάτια... Αστρά, περήφανε Αστρά, νεανικέ Αστρά μου, της νιότης είσαι η νιότη συ και της χαράς χαρά μου. Με ποια γαλήνια προσευχή που δένεται η ψυχή μου στην τρυφερή, ρεμβαστική κι εκστατική στιγμή μου! English:
Astras, proud Astras Strongly established You who stand steadily Beautiful and wild
You hide immortal souls In your deep forests And you show yourself to sky Like a sky with eyes
Astras proud Astras My young Astras You are the youth of my youth And the joy of my joy
With which relaxing prayer My soul goes with In my beautiful Ecstatic moment of mine watching you