Argos is a city in the Peloponnese that belongs to the Peripheral
Unit of Argolida. It is the largest city in the prefecture with a
population of 22,209 inhabitants (2011 census). It is the center of
commercial and industrial activities of the prefecture.
Argos is also the seat of the "kallikratiko" Municipality of Argos-Mycenae, which has a population of 42,022 inhabitants and in terms of its area is identified with the former Province of Argos, of which the city was also the seat. In the former Municipality of Argos ("Kapodistria Plan") and now in the homonymous municipal unit of the Municipality of Argos-Mycenae belong outside the Argos, the Communities of Dalamanara, Elliniko, Ira, Inachos, Kefalari, Kourtaki, Lakouka and Pyrgella.
It is considered the oldest city in Mainland Europe due to the existence of many archaeological monuments dating back to the Late Bronze Age, when it was one of the most important centers of Mycenaean Civilization and one of the oldest in Greece.
The name of the city is very ancient and many theories have been proposed for its etymological approach. The prevailing view considers the name as a remnant of the Pelasgian language, that is, of the people who historically first settled in the area of Argos, in which it meant "plain". According to an alternative theory, the name is etymologically connected with Argos, the third king of the city in antiquity, who renamed it after his name, thus replacing its previous name Foronikon Asty. A correspondence has also been suggested with the word "argos" (with a rise in tone), meaning "white", probably from the visual impression one made when one saw the Argolic plain at harvest time. Related is the connection of the word with the word "field", with a reversal of the pacts (according to Strabo).
The first king of Argos is considered to be Inachos, son of Oceanus and Tethys, who also gave his name to the river of the region. After the flood of Deucalion, he founded Argos. He taught his subjects the cultivation of the land, the making of garments, the processing of glass and precious stones.
The importance of the culture of Argos is also seen from the epics of Homer in which all Greeks (even the Beautiful Helen) are called "Argians". Maybe because all the royal houses of Greece come from Argos, including the houses of the Macedonians. The important place of the Argeian civilization is also seen by the tragic poets whose many tragedies are mentioned in Argos; Two of the greatest heroes of Greek mythology, Perseus and Hercules, come from Argos. Euripides' tragedy "Hercules" also begins with a reference to the hero's Argos origin.
Foronikon Asty, as Argos was called before it acquired its current name, is considered by many to be the first city in the world. The area of today's city of Argos experienced the first human settlement at the end of the 3rd millennium BC, in the Neolithic era. Since then it has been inhabited continuously, being built again and again in the same geographical position that it holds until today with its first colonizers being considered in prehistoric times the Pelasgians. The first residential records are observed at the foot of the hill of Aspida and Larissa, while the settlement of populations in the eastern part of the city occurred much later. Its central position between Nemea, Corinth and the Arcadian hinterland played an important role in the development of Argos, while it was also favored by the lake of Lerna, which at that time reached a distance of one kilometer south of the city.
The Pelasgians bequeathed to the city many names, such as its own name and the word "Larissa", the name of the castle that dominates the homonymous hill of the city, which means citadel. On the same hill there was the sanctuary of the goddess Hera of Akraia, today the monastery of Panagia Katakekrymeni.
In the Mycenaean era, Argos, together with Mycenae and Tiryns, was an important settlement with a strategic position in the fertile Argolic plain. The city had its own currency and reached its peak of power in the 7th century BC. under the tyranny of Pheidon, when it prevailed over the other Peloponnesian cities, especially Sparta. During this period, a school of sculpture and coppersmithing operated in the city, while the pottery, tanneries and ready-made garments that made clothes in a rich variety of designs and colors were also noteworthy. It is not characteristic that at regular intervals, an exhibition was organized with the products of the Argolic land. In ancient Argos there was also a multitude of celebrations, judging by the at least 25 celebrations that have been recorded.
During the Descent of the Dorians, around 1098 BC, Argos was divided into four districts, each of which was inhabited by a different tribe. The weakening and loss of the prestige of Argos occurred later, on the one hand, with its refusal to provide supplies and to participate in the Greco-Persian wars and on the other hand, with the neutral stance it maintained later, during the Peloponnesian War.
During this period begins the decline of the commercial character of the city and the change of its urban fabric, especially due to the invasion of the Goths in 396, with the ancient market ceasing to be a meeting point and the movement of the city to be transferred to the eastern district , on the borders of today's Danaou and Agios Konstantinos streets. In the Byzantine Empire, Argos belonged first to the Theme of Greece and then to the Theme of the Peloponnese.
At the beginning of the 13th century, the Greek ruler from
Nafplio, Leon Sgouros, rebelled against the emperor Alexios III and
proclaimed himself ruler. Leon Sgouros, starting from his homeland,
occupied Argos and Corinth, killed the archbishop there, demolishing
him from Acrocorinth after previously blinding him. The rule of
Sgouros soon extended from Nafplio to Boeotia (1203). The following
year the Franks campaigned and occupied Constantinople in the Fourth
Crusade (1204), Alexios III sought refuge in Larissa, and gave
Sgouros his daughter Evdokia Angelina as his wife and his title
[Despot]. Sgouros did not find support from the local Greek
population due to his tyrannical rule and took refuge in the Castle
of Acrokorinthos where he was fortified (1205). The Franks after
their triumph in the Battle of the olive grove of Kountoura besieged
the hegemony of Sgouros to which Argos also belonged, he himself
remained fortified in Acrocorinth. Sgouros finally could not stand
the humiliation and committed suicide by falling on horseback on the
rocks from the castle of Acrokorinthos (1208). After the death of
Sgouros the fall of his hegemony to the Franks was a matter of time,
first fell Acrocorinth (1209), followed by Argos and Nafplio (1212).
The Duke of Athens Otto de la Ross, who was the protagonist in the Fall of the three cities, took over the administration of Timaria, Argos and Nafplio. The timars were inherited by Otto's son, Lord Ray, who sold them to his brother, the Duke of Athens Guy de la Ross, for 15,000 gold fireworks. The Prince of Achaia, William II Villehardouin, was until 1259 the most powerful Latin ruler in central Greece, the House de la Ross was his vassal. Michael XVI Palaiologos after the triumph in the battle of Pelagonia (1259) dissolved the Latin Empire and re-created the Byzantine Empire. William II Villehardouin was taken prisoner of Michael Paleologos, was released after handing over many cities in the southern Peloponnese but the Timars of Argos and Nafplio remained with the Latins. The timars always belonged to the Duchy.
Gautier's of Brienne inherited the Duchy of Athens (1309) but he and the greatest knights of the Franks fell in March 1311 in the Battle of Almyros against the Catalans. The next day the Catalans occupied the duchy of Athens, with their military prowess threatening to conquer Argos and Nafplio.
The widow of Gauthier Joanna of Satillon, with the support of the Andean kingdom of Naples and the pope, acquired supplies and an army, appointed the powerful Frankish nobles Walter and Francis of Fuρόerol to rule the timars in her name. The support she had from the powerful Fuchsol brothers helped her, despite the catastrophic invasions of the Catalans, to keep the timars for the next decade. Gauthier's son Gautier VI made persistent attempts to retake Athens but all failed because he did not have the means and the Republic of Venice did not support him. He kept the Timars of Argos and Nafplio in his possession until the time he was killed in the battle of Poitiers (1356) but he never visited them. The threats of the Catalans forced Gauthier VI to build two more new castles in Kiveri, Argolida and in Akra Thermisi. The documents show that the area was very rich and in the 14th century there was a large production of locusts, raisins, resin, cotton and linen was exported. Guy arrived in Timaria in December 1364 to take over personal government, to reconcile with the local population he married the area. Guy faced great threats from the Ottoman Empire with relentless raids but became a courageous warrior. To better secure his lands he became a Venetian citizen (July 22, 1362), this development brought Venetian intervention in the area.
Guy was inherited by his daughter Maria of Angyan (1376) at the
age of just 10, he ruled the timars under the tutelage of his uncle
Ludovic of Angyan. Her uncle engaged her to Petros Cornaro, who
lived in Argos, the son of the rich nobleman from Venice, Federico
Cornaro, it was the first big step to transfer the Timaris to
Venice. Author Anthony Loutrel (born 1932) writes: "The Venetians at
that time considered these areas their possessions." The couple were
minors and had the support of Federico Cornaro until his death
(1382). Peter Cornaro died prematurely (1388) and Maria, who saw
that she could not rule alone, sold the Timaris to the Republic of
Venice, since then the Venetian rule officially began in Argos,
which will last for about a century. The Despot of Moria, Theodoros
I Palaiologos, allied with his father-in-law Nerios I Atsagioli and
with the help of an Ottoman army led by Evrenos, attacked the
Venetians to prevent their arrival. The Venetians easily expelled
Nerio Agagioli but the Despot of Moria had Argos, Nafplio, Kiveri of
Argolida and Thermisi until June 11, 1394. After the death of Louis
(1394) Enggebert of Angian was the first of the brothers who
accepted the timars claimed his inheritance but retreated after the
great financial demands of the Venetians for compensation.
The Ottomans attacked and looted Argos, deserted the city and sold all the inhabitants as slaves (1397). The Venetians settled the area again with Arvanites and offered them huge tax exemptions to accept to stay permanently in Argos, the Arvanites and the old Greek inhabitants served in the Venetian army as mercenaries. Most historians say that the French term "Argulet" comes from the French soldiers originating from Argos.
Fall to the Ottomans
The Ottomans declared war on the Venetians in November 1462 on the pretext that they had offered asylum to a fugitive Arvanite thief who had escaped to Koroni, and the Venetians refused to hand him over. The Ottoman Empire was at the height of its power at that time, it was preceded by the Fall of Constantinople by Muhammad the Conqueror (1453), followed by the fall of the last Greek states such as the Despotate of Mystras and the Empire of Trebizond (14). The Ottoman governor of Moria Isa-Bey Isakovic betrayed Argos (April 3, 1463). The Republic of Venice, the Hungarian King Matthew Corvinus and Philip III of Burgundy formed an alliance with Pope Pius II against Turkey (October 19, 1463).
The Venetians with Albice Lorentan and his general Bertoldo Este attacked with 20,000 men in the Peloponnese and temporarily recaptured Argos. Muhammad the Conqueror sent new powerful forces with the Grand Vizier Mahmut Pasha Angelovic, the Venetian army in the meantime in Acrocorinth was defeated by Turahanoglu Omer Bey and Este was killed in battle. The Vizier took advantage of the disbandment of the Venetian army from a dysentery epidemic, occupied Argos and leveled it. In the Treaty that followed when the First Venetian-Turkish War ended (1479) Argos was permanently handed over to the Ottomans, neighboring Nafplio instead remained with the Venetians until the end of the Third Venetian-Turkish War (1540).
During the Turkish occupation and before the revolution, the city of Argos was divided into four mahalades. The northeastern mahalas, or Roman mahalas, was also referred to as the "district of the infidels of the town of Archos" in Turkish documents. The northwestern, or Liepur mahalas (Lagoi district), was home to many Albanians and respectable families, while the southwestern was called Bekir Efenti mahalas. Finally, Karamutza or Besikler mahalas, which is the southeastern part of the city, was the residence of the most prominent Turks, including a mosque (the present-day church of St. Constantine), a Turkish cemetery, the Serai of Ali Nakrin Bey, and the school of Ali Nakino Bey. During this period, the bazaar of Argos began to take shape north of the barracks of Kapodistrias, at the point where it takes place even today. In fact, according to the urban planning of the Ottoman cities, the central mosque was located in this area.
The construction of Argos is anarchic at this time, with the
houses being built, as the traveler François Pouqueville observes,
"without alignment, without order, thrown here and there, separated
by courtyards and uncultivated areas". The Liepur mahalas show
greater regularity, with the existence of larger roads and building
islands, in contrast to the labyrinthine form of the maharas Bekir
Efenti and Karamoutza. In all four neighborhoods, however, three
street forms were observed. These included the main roads, with a
purely public character, which provided communication between the
districts (such as the current streets of Corinth, Nafplio and
Tripoli), the secondary roads leading inside the mahalades, with a
semi-public category of three, and , the dead-end access roads
inside the construction islands with a private character, which
served the residences of a large family. Remains of this layout are
evident even today in the structure of Argos, as it is characterized
by labyrinthine streets, alleys and densely built houses.
The city remained under Ottoman control, with the exception of the Venetian occupation of 1687–1715, until the Revolution of 1821. After the declaration of the revolution, wealthy Ottoman families moved to Nafplio, considering its walls safer. After a short period of self-government by Stamatellos Antonopoulos, it became the seat of the First National Assembly of Epidaurus and later joined the Kingdom of Greece.
With the arrival of Kapodistrias, efforts are made to modernize Argos, a small, rural village, and in 1828 the engineer and officer of the French army, Stamatis Voulgaris, was commissioned to draw up an urban plan for the city, which included the creation of squares and the laying of roads. . However, both this plan and the next, by the German military de Borozin, are not highly regarded by the inhabitants and are subject to revision, until the version of the architect Lambros Zavos is partially implemented, without any particular exceptions to the rule. for example, the unplanned extension of the city east of Inachou Street to the height where the railway lines are today).
Shortly after the announcement of the transfer of the Greek capital from Nafplio, the possibility of designating Argos as the capital, instead of the also candidate Athens, gained great chances. In fact, the inhabitants of Nafplio supported this proposal, considering Argos a safer and more privileged city, with natural guarding and a nearby port that functioned as a natural fortification. He also cited the fact that in Athens the majority of state land belonged to the Church, so the construction of any state building would require expropriations, something that did not apply in Argos of the abundant available land. However, the idea of Argos as a capital was rejected by Otto's father, Louis, who insisted on the proposal giving the title to Athens.
Today, Argos is the most populous city in the prefecture of Argolida and gathers many of its services. Primary economic activities are agriculture and trade. However, there is a steady influx of tourists interested in its history and archaeological finds.
Characteristics of the city
Argos is bordered on the north by the dry river Xeria (Charadro), on the east by the Inachos river and the stream of Panitsa (which originates from the latter), on the west by the hill of Larissa (where the monastery of Panagia Katakekrymeni is built- Portokalousa) and the hill of Aspidos (or the hill of Profitis Ilias) and in its southern part from the Southern Ring Road.
Agios Petros Square (former Omonia Square) with the cathedral of the same name is the center of the city, while typical squares are Dimokratia Square (unofficial Laiki Agora square), Dervenakion Square (unofficial Sitaragoras or Staragoras square) and Dikastiri Square where the city Magistrates' Court is located). Bonnie Park is the largest green space in the city center.
The most important districts are Gefyria, Tsameika, Lagkadiana,
Synoikismos, Agios Vassilios, the Old and New Workers' Homes, Neos
Kosmos, Ai-Giannis, Agia Aikaterini and Agios Nikolaos (from the
homonymous churches that are located in each area), while on the
outskirts of Argos notable areas are Dalamanara, the Airport, Halepa
Today, the most commercial streets of the city are those located around the square of Agios Petros (Kapodistriou, Danaou, Vassileos Konstantinou street) as well as Korinthou street. The pedestrian streets (the pedestrian streets, that is, Michail Stamou, Panagi Tsaldari and El. Venizelou streets) are the most popular part of the city, where a large number of shops and cafes are located. The neighborhood of Gouva, which extends around the intersection of Vassileos Konstantinou and Tsokri streets, is also considered a commercial point.
Argos is connected by regular bus services with neighboring areas as well as with direct routes to Athens. The bus station of Argos is located in the area of Agios Vassilios, at the exit to Nafplio. Also in both Agios Petros square and Dimokratia square (public market) there is a taxi rank.
The city also has a railway station, which does not operate due to the indefinite interruption of all rail routes in the Peloponnese by OSE. At the end of 2014, it was announced that there was a provision for the reopening of the routes in the Argos-Nafplio-Corinth section, with a connection to the Suburban Railway. Finally, in the middle of 2020, the Peloponnese Region announced its cooperation with OSE for the maintenance of the metric line and the stations in order to reopen this line in the middle of 2021.
In today's Argos most of the monuments are unused, abandoned or incompletely restored. Some of them are:
The castle of Larissa, built in prehistoric times, which was repaired and expanded several times since antiquity and played an important historical role during the Venetian occupation and the Greek Revolution of 1821. It is located at the top of the hill, which is the highest point of the city (289 m.). The castle is first mentioned on the occasion of its occupation in 1203 by Leontas Sgouros. In ancient times there was a castle on the neighboring hill of Aspidos, which however is not preserved. Attached to walls, these two castles fortified the city and protected it from enemy invasions.
The Ancient Theater, with a capacity of 20,000 spectators, built in the 3rd century BC. replacing the older neighboring theater of the 5th century BC, and connected to the Ancient Agora, it was visible throughout the ancient city and the Argolic Gulf. In 1829 it was used by Kapodistrias for the 4th National Assembly of the new Greek state. Today the venue houses cultural events during the summer months.
The Ancient Agora, near the Ancient Theater, was formed in the 6th century BC. at a central point where roads from Corinth, Heraion and Tegea ended. Bouleuterion, built in 460 BC, have been excavated in the area. when Argos adopted the democratic state, Sanctuary of the Lyceum of Apollo and a palaestra, among others.
"Kritirion" -Nymfaio of Argos, an ancient monument in the southwestern part of the city, at the foot of Larissa, which took its current form from the 6th to the 3rd century BC. It originally served as a court of ancient Argos, similar to the Supreme Court of Athens. There, according to mythology, Hypermnistra, one of the 50 daughters of Danaos, the first king of Argos, was tried. Later, during the reign of Hadrian, a fountain was created in the area for the collection and channeling of water from the Hadrian's Aqueduct, which was located north of the city. The space is connected by a paved path to the ancient Theater.