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Anthochori (Greek, Modern: Ανθοχώρι, Katharevousa: Ανθοχώριον; combination of the words άνθος, flower, and χωρίον, village) was a settlement in Arcadia, Greece once located around 2.5 km south-southeast of the town of Megalopoli. Anthochori was demolished during 2006-8 in order to provide Megalopolis' Power Station with lignite (brown coal). A satellite picture of Anthochori before its demolition can be found here.


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Position in relation to road and rail networks

Road Networks

Anthchori was situated 3 km northwest from the nearest interchange with the GR-7/E65 (Kalamata - Megalopoli - Tripoli), about 50 km (old: 47 km) northeast of Kalamata, north-northwest of Leontari and about 39 km (old: 37 km) west-southwest of Tripoli. Anthochori was formerly connected with a road linking the GR-7, Gefyra and the old GR-7. It was also formerly served by the road to Choremi and Vastas (then separate), the road to Tripotamo and Choremi and Megalopoli and Sparta. Anthochori used to border Psathi 2 to 3 km north, a settlement which has been relocated 2 km to the east of its original location.

Railway Networks

Anthochori was a train stop between the Megalopolis' terminal and the Lefktron railway station (Greek: Λευκτρον, also known as 'Bilali').[1] Lefktron is a station on the Tripoli-Kalamata railway line, part of the narrow gauge Peloponnese network.[2]. A photo of Anthochori's railway 'station' can be found here.
Nearest places

Perivolia, northeast
Vrysoules, east
Gefyra, southeast
Tripotamo, west
Psathi, north

Geography

Anthochori was situated in the plain of Megalopolis, a city founded in 371 BC, with Alpheus river 1 km to its southwest and Mt Lykaion to its northwest, both of which are mentioned in the ancient Greek mythology. The local geo-topography consisted of farmlands covering its central, southern and western parts; grasslands, covering its eastern part; and forests, covering mostly its south-eastern parts. Since the 1970s the distant horizon northwest of Anthochori was dominated by the Megalopolis lignite (brown coal) opencast mine. The latter provides fuel for a 850MW thermo-electric plant, the so-called 'Megalopolis' Station', one of the largest electricity plants in Greece run by the Public Power Corporation (Greek: ΔΕΗ).
History

The old name of the village was Karoumpali. 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. The village was re-named Anthochorion on 20/8/1927 (FEK 179/1927).[4]

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 [5]. Anthochori continued to function as an independent community until the end of 1997 when the 'Kapodistrias' programme of reforms began to be implemented [6]. 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.

The highest recorded population in Anthochori was in the early to mid-20th century. The population fell steadily since the mid-20th century, particularly after World War II (1940–44) and the Greek Civil War (1946-9) as people sought employment and a better standard of living elsewhere in Greece as well as other parts of the world, mainly in North America. Between the censuses of 1981 and 2001 small increases in the population were recorded, making Anthochori one of the few places in Arcadia that saw population growth during this period. However, between 2002-07 the settlement was gradually abandoned as the mining activities expanded and the last few remaining residents moved to Megalopoli and probably some nearby settlements.

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[7].
Loss of a settlement

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 appeared in the Time magazine on 17 September 2008 [8]

In 29 November 2008 the church collapsed upon itself and, with it, any 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'

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[9] 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

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.[10] 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,[11] 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'.

The fact that Anthochori's church became international news was also commented upon in the blog KALIMERA ARCADIA on 3 October 2008 [12].

Population
Year Population
1981 66
1991 72
2001 78

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Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire

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