ASTAKOS (Small town) ETOLOAKARNANIA
In ancient times western Greece was a land of two great nations - Etolon and Akarnanon. The disputed boundary between them was the Acheloos River.
Akarnania was comprised of the western part from the Ionian sea till the Acheloos and from the Amvrakiko Gulf till the Gulf of Astakos and the estuaries of the Acheloos.
There is a legend that the area of Astakos was the land of the Cyclops, more specifically, on the rugged slope of Veloutsas over Kasteli is located the cave of the Cyclops who blinded Odysseas, while some impressively large boulders in the valley are believed to be those which the angry Cyclops threw at Odysseas and his companions in order to sink their ship.
According to mythology, and what Thoukidides tells us, the first colonizer of the area of Astakos was Alkmeon, son of the king of the Argos, Amphiarao Alkmeon, was thrown out by the Furies after having killed his mother. He reached the estuaries of Acheloos and settled there. He became the head of the area and had a son, Akarnana, whose name was later given to this area.
The most ancient trace of inhabitants in Etoloakarnania were found in caves near Astakos and at the foot of Varsovas (Kryoneri) while the ruins at St: Elias can be dated back to the Neolithic era. Settlements from this era were not saved. However, we have important remnants of facilities and mansions of the early age of copper at Platygiali near Astakos, (St. Pantelemonas) at Palaia Plevron and at Palaiomanina (Savria).
During the Mycean years, the influence of the centers of Eastern Greece becomes noticeable in many sectors of Etolia and Akarnania in the towns Koronta and Pelasgiko, Astakos and Palero. In the 5th century B.C. in Akarnania there were centres which were highly developed, minting their own money and having their own armies.
From 500-300 B.C. many wars were fought in this area and many alliances were made, according to the needs of each period of time.
During the years of the Peloponesian war, Astakos was mentioned by Thucydides twice.
The first time was during the first year of the war when 100 Athenian triremes attacked Astakos and overthrew Evarcho who soon asked the Corinthians and Lakedemonians for help. They arrived at Astakos with forty ships and reinstated the tyrant (431 B.C.). The rule of Corinth over Astakos lasted about 2 years. The second reference takes us to the third year of the war when the Athenian fleet approached Astakos for the second time with Phormiona as commander. A landing force of 800 men pouched their way into the interior of Akarnania and for a rather long period of time conducted various undertakings with the intention of strengthening the Athenian rule over the whole land.
Thucydides also mentions another stronghold, Koronta.
Around 218-206 B.C. the decline of Etolia and Akarnania began with the attack of Phillip 5 th. Around 30 B.C. with the founding of Nicopolis and the Roman settlement of Patra in the 14th century B.C. The depopulation of the area started with the population moving towards Amvrakiko and Nicopolis. From various sources we gather that the towns Anaktorio, Thyrrei, Livia and Metropolis existed until the 2nd century B.C. Today they are known as Palaia manina, Astakos and Koronta.
From the Roman era until the revolution of 1821, the area of Akarnania and Etolia went through a period in which developments were rapid and they show in the archeological findings and in the ruins of ancient Christian churches. A blossoming of artistic expression from the centers of Byzantium, most especially Constantinople and Thessaloniki, is noticed.
Akarnania, with the founding of the state of Epirus which was called a domain (1204) suffered from barbarian raids such as Slavs, Arabs and Bulgarians who plundered, destroyed and ruined. The whole area was later destroyed again during the Venetian-Turkish wars. We ascertain that the area was continually under the clouds of war during that time.
Many conflicts of the then strong nations continued during the following years for the domination of the area, due to the importance of its location.
In 1358 all the fortresses which belonged to the domain of Epirus were taken over by the Albanians until 1405 when Charles I, count of Cephalonia and Lefkada, become victorious.
In 1430 the whole area passed into the hands of Sinan Pasa, and the long-lasting rule of the Turks in the area was strengthened. On October 7, 1571, in the area of Astakos, near the Echinades Islands, with 25,000 soldiers. One of the biggest naval battles of the Middle Ages - the battle of Lepante - took place. The united Christian fleet, with 285 ships of the Venetians, Spaniards and Pope Pious and with 8,000 Greeks under Don Juan of Austria, confronted and crushed the Turkish fleet of Kapoudan Pasa.
This naval battle was the beginning of the collapse of the myth that Ottoman Empire was unbeatable on land and sea. The reconstruction of the nation owes a great deal to the institution of communities which was the basic nuclear social organization. The Akarnanians of Xiromero were forerunners in the freedom fight and in many revolutionary movements.
The battles which took place during this period were numerous and bloody. In the Akarnanian mountains the klephts flourished. In the area of Dragamestov, George Karaiskakis deployed his encampment. For this reason, the old village Dragamestov, in its new location, is now called Karaiskaki. In Dragamesto General George also deployed an encampment in 1827. On May 25th, 1921 the revolution in Xiromero was declared with the publication and circulation of the revolutionary proclamation written by George Varnakioti.
In August 1824, Karaiskakis lay in ambush for a Turkish convoy at the location "Manina". On July 10, 1827, Dimos Tselios made a landing at Dragamesto.
His units joined the forces of Rangou and together they attacked the Turks and took possession of Mytikas and Kandila. On November 17, 1827, Greek forces carry out a landing at Dragamesto and continue on to seize Chrysovitsa and Ligovitsi. Later, during the period 1940-1944, the offering and participation of the people of the area was important. A significant battle against the occupation forces took place at Tsapournia.
This text is cited December 2004 from the West Greece Region General Secretariat URL below.
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