Our Village


Identity
The beautiful, small village of Alevrou is spread out on one of the Eastern slopes of Mt Taygetus at an altitude of 650m above sea level and almost in the geographical centre of the former Northern Municipalities of Laconia. It covers a distance larger than a square km and is shaped like an irregular polygon. The central road from Sparta to Loganikos runs through the village in its upper western part. Alevrou is 24 km away from Sparta and borders “Kastori”, “Perivolia” and “Georgitsi” from which it has a distance of 4, 3 and 8 km respectively. Up until 1998 it was a township. Today it is a part of the Municipality of “Pellana” and it is under the jurisdiction of the City of Sparta. The permanent residents of the village amount to 87, Hellenic Statistical Authority (2011). The danger of abandonment of the village is, as elsewhere, obvious, but unfortunately it is left to its own fate. The above residents are occupied with the cultivation of olive trees and they earn their living from that.  Their income though is thought to be inexistent since over the past few years the price of olive oil has dropped to unacceptably low limits. In the village there are two grocery stores, which also sell wine and there is also an olive oil factory. Visitors are impressed by the natural surroundings, the morphology of the ground, the streams and folds, the waters, the green, the church of the patron saint "Agios Georgios" (St. George) that was recently renovated interiorly and mostly exteriorly, its large square was paved and is truly remarkable.  The shapely and well looked after country chapels of "Agia Anna", "Agios Athanasios", "Agia Varvara", "Taxiarhes", "Panaitsa" and "Stavroulis", complete the picturesque image of the village.

History
Before 1463 Alevrou was named "Palaiohora" and was placed around 4 km Northeast of the village where today’s “Paliohori” lies and has remnants of the then settlement. The establishment of Palaiohora is lost in the depths of time. During the Byzantine Era, Palaiohora was connected by road with the well-known access road of ancient Pellana to Arcadia, known as “Pellanis-Veleminas” which is mentioned in Pausanias “Laconica”. The then mint has been placed, somewhere around the middle of the “Pellana-Palaiohora” road, near “Platanakia”. Around 1463, with the conquest of the northern municipalities by the Turks (after Mehmed II the Conqueror personally raided the area and following the siege and downfall of the “Castri” Castle, which was being defended by captain “Prinokokas”) the Turkish administration settled in “Kafedes”, in the Northeastern part of modern day Perivolia, which at the time of course did not exist. The residents of Palaiohora who neighboured Kafedes, in other words the newly built Turkish settlement and centre for the Turkish Authority in the area, were forced to abandon their homes to search, just as similar villages of the plains, for safer grounds and refuge in the highlands. Thus they settled on the outskirts of Mt Taygetus. There they built “New Plaiohora”, today’s “Alevrou”, enduring toil and pain. It is from that position that they could creep down into the plains and the ridges and also, when in danger, hide in the ravines at “Tsirounia”, “Remataki” (Little Stream) and the mid-ridges of Mt. Taygetus.
Alevrou during the National Struggle of 1821 was excellently prepared and organized. With Captain Balliotis in charge it was incorporated into the captains’ “local squadron” (kapetaniliki) in Georgitsi. The village and a number of fighters took part at “Valtetsi”, “Doliana”, “Dervenakia” and the siege of “Tripolitsa” under the leadership of a captain ordained each time by the General Command of Captains. 12 warriors from Alevrou participated in the battle of “Peta” and it was ranked 3rd amongst the villages with the most participants sent to fight (Georgitsi first with 50 men, Loganikos second with 15). King Otto visited Alevrou or “Alevriana”, as it is written in the Tour’s log, during his Tour in the Peloponnese in October of 1833.  The residents with the village chieftain (“Proestos”) in charge welcomed him and offered him Loukoumi (Turkish delight) and water and “H.M. was pleased and accepted” (Tour Log).

The Origin of the Name Alevrou
In the area of New Palaiohora (modern day Alevrou) there were watermills, each one working with the water of the previous one to that. These mills were designated to the residents of Palaiohora. The main watermill belonged to a female resident, who was always floured head-to-toe. The customers and the residents of the area knew her as, called her and asked after her as “Alevrou” (“the flour lady”). Repetition demanded the “mill-lady” be renamed the “Flour-lady” (Alevrou) and along with her Palaiohora with time became Alevrou.

The Residents
116 souls are left today. During the 50’s they reached 550 and in the 1900’s 650. During the Greek National Struggle of 1821 it is estimated (there aren’t any archives for that time) that the population was maybe only 100, significantly less. The outspread and denser construction of Alevrou began after 1870. Most of the building took place during the fifteen years between 1885-1900, in accordance to the time’s architecture. The residence’s length was at 10,40m, width at 6,20m, wall width at 0,70m. These were double storied and most with arches and the more expensive ones had quoins or marble angles and arched lintels and windows. The ground floor was a single room and the first floor had a small hallway, a winter room (where the fireplace was), a small bedroom and living room. The church of the Patron Saint Agios Georgios (St. George) was constructed during the decade 1887-1897 displaying excellent technique in a simple byzantine style and replacing the older smaller church. The marbles were brought by villagers - men and women, who carried them on their backs from “Kardaris” and its ravines, the paths marked by the passage of the wild mountain goats. It is during this time that many of the craftsmen working in local guilds (Kalavrita Ahaia, Laggadia Gortynia and other places) settled, married and were incorporated into the village. 

Specific Traits of the People of Alevrou
Hospitality: The people of Alevrou have always been known for their hospitable sentiments. Up until a while after the turn of the century we left behind, this village has been a sure and pleasant place for every passer-by and visitor. But even today, when means of transport, public or private, but also financial capabilities have dramatically changed life in that respect, wherever it’s needed the village shows that the traditional hospitality hasn’t vanished. For instance lodging and food were secured for the craftsmen who placed the slabs in the square of St. George by the women of the village for as long as it was needed. (approx.15 days)
Respect for Private Property: In the last forty years not a single phenomenon of even petty theft has been observed.  Any object, be it of small or great value, is left outside a home or in the fields or in the street and no one will conceive that it will be lost (or stolen).
Participation in Joint Projects: Not only do the people of Alevrou participate in works that concern their village, but also elsewhere and it is a characteristic which distinguishes them from the surrounding area. The erection of their churches, the paving and the concreting of their floors and yards, the maintenance and renovations of these churches, have always been done with donations of the people who come from Alevrou, whether they live in the village or not. Also, the few permanent residents are eager to put in personal work. Furthermore, the excellent school building of the village, water irrigation, most of the streets and cobbled roads were done in the same way.
It’s worth noting that amongst the first donors to The Arsakeio School in Athens, around 1836, was George Balliotis, son of Nicholas, landowner in Alevrou of Laconia, donating the sum of 4000 drachmas. This is the very same captain of  ’21 (Greek  National Struggle) for whom the people of Alevrou used to say “God, King and Balliotis.”
Culture: Alevrou has always been known as the village of artists and revelers. The musicians were many and renown and are forever present throughout the generations (top of his era was Kekos with his clarinet). There were many singers also, male and female. At the regular annual dances, but also at the more than often spontaneous ones, entire families would attend and neighbours (from nearby villages) would come, too. Songs composed by the people of Alevrou (each family danced to their own song) also became songs of the land. Modern Alevrou produces musicians to the same extent as the past. During the interval between both World Wars, in any case, someone playing the clarinet, lute, violin, mandolin or flute could be found in every home.

Conclusion
Alevrou is especially loved, respected, actively supported, visited and honoured by the few residents of Alevrou and the greater number of “Alevrites” from all over Greece and around the world. The ones who have remained here have organized their lives in a respectable and creative manner. They‘ve bettered their homes and the village surroundings in a way that impresses visitors and foreigners. The Alevrites that live overseas have been integrated successfully in the countries they live in and they are preeminent in their work and in their businesses. Many of their children are in public posts or are scientists. Finally, the Alevrites who live in Greece, in and out of Alevrou, in their majority are acclaimed socially, professionally and economically. The doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers of all levels of education, senior civil servants, army officers and high ranking police officers, compose and complete the image of the beautiful, small and dynamic village of Alevrou.

Written by George Patsatzis, Honorary Chairman of the Pedagogical Institute
Translated by Katrina Zavras, Εducator