Above: Segments from the wall and the temple of the citadel. Below: Ancient Arini at Lapitha mountain high above.

“A part of the inhabitants of Triphylia were called Paroreatae; they occupied mountains, in the neighbourhood of Lepreum and Macistum, that reach down to the sea near the Samian Poseidium.[19] At the base of these mountains, on the seaboard, are two caves. One is the cave of the nymphs called Anigriades; the other is the scene of the stories of the daughters of Atlas and of the birth of Dardanus. And here, too, are the sacred precincts called the Ionaeum and the Eurycydeium. Samicum is now only a fortress, though formerly there was also a city which was called Samus, perhaps because of its lofty situation; for they used to call lofty places "Samoi." And perhaps Samicum was the acropolis of Arenê, which the poet mentions in the Catalogue”
Geography, Strabo 

The village took its name from the daughter of the king of Sparta, Oebalus, who was married to the firstborn son of the king of ancient Messenia Periiris, Afareas. Arini had been a beautiful woman and an exemplary wife. The name Arini means Peace (Irini in Greek) according to some authors and Fountain (Pigi) according to others. Afareas had been so excited with his beautiful wife that for her sake he built a citadel at the western end of Lapitha Mountain (at today’s location of Kaiafa), which he named Arini. It is clear that this location of the hot springs of Kaiafa, with rich natural beauty and the view, as it is offered from the point that the Citadel had been built, is extended around very captivating, attracted in a particular manner the attraction of the king Afareas and his wife, Arini, who made the Citadel Arini the capital of their kingdom and they settled permanently therein. Thus, Arini was made the second in order capital of the ancient Messenia, after Andanias.

 Arini is today a self-existent community, as it was recognized by the King’s Degree 31.8.1912 (Official Government Gazette A’ 262/1912). It derives from the former municipality of Arini, of which it was a capital for many years in the 19th century, with the name Tsorvatzi. From the administrative point of view, the Arini of the present days is subject to the prefecture of Ilia, since 1939. Before 1939 it was being subject to the prefecture of Messenia. In 1939, the province of Olympia was detached from the prefecture of Messenia and the province of Ilia was detached from the prefecture of Achaia, and the prefecture o Ilia was formed from these two provinces (Official Government Gazzette 355/1939). As concerns judicial cases, Arini is subject to the court of peace of Zacharo and to the court of first instance of Pyrgos, Ilia. Before 1991, it was being subject to the court of first instance of Kyparissia. As regards the church affairs, the church of the patron saint of the village, Saint Athanasius (Agios Athanasios) is subject to the Holy Diocese of Triphylia and Olympia (former Diocese of Christianoupoli). As regards the police affairs, it is subject to the police department of Zacharo. With the King’s Decree of 9/21 April 1835, there was established the municipality of Arini, with Tsorvatzi as a capital until 1912, a year in which the seat of the municipality of Arini,  was definitely transferred to Zacharo, and Tsorvatzi (Arini) was acknowledged as a self-existing Community.

The King’s Decree of April 1835, by which the municipality of Arini was established with Tsorvatzi as a capital. The stamp of the Municipality of Arini, the King’s Degree for the winter seat of the Municipality, the King’s Decree for the transfer of the municipality of Arini to Zacharo and the King’s Decree for the reinstatement of the municipality with Tsorvatzi as a seat, as well as its definite renaming. 

The name of the village, Tsorvatzi, is of a Turkish origin. The question that is raised is why the Turks named the village Tsorvatzi. There are many points of view, one of which, that seems to be rather incorrect, is that the village took its name from the word “dorva”, which is also a word of Turkish origin and officially means ration of a military unit. Unofficially, in the modern Greek language, the word “dorvas” means the small sack full of barley or oats, that the villagers were giving to the cattle to eat, suspending it from the head of the horse or the mule. However, in all the historical sources of the ancient Olympia, it is mentioned with the name Tsorvatzi. Breaking down the name of the village into its two components Tsorva-tzi, we read in the dictionaries that the word Tsorvas is a Turkish word and means watery food, soup. To this word, the Turks added the ending zi or gi and the name of the village became Tsorvatzi, and indicated the mode of production and sale of “tsorvas”, because “tsorvatzis” means the seller. The mode of production of “tsorvas” had had a peculiarity. It was being produced by the millers, who owned the mills along the river Anigros, because at that time these mills were being moved through its abundant water flow. The millers were appropriately regulating the millstones, so as the wheat to be chopped into small grains that they were throwing into pots full of milk. The grains were absorbing the milk and afterwards they were spreading them under the sun and they were getting dry. They were packing all this concoction in sacks and it was ready for sale.

The name Tsorvatzi remained until 1922, when under decree 4.11.1927 (Official Government Gazzette 306/1927) and after some actions of the ever memorable educator Kostas Sakellariou, the village was renamed into Arini, rather as an indication of a national honor for the contribution of the village to the fight for the independence of 1821.

An honouring plaque for the fighters of our village in 1821 lies besides the main fountain of the village.

From the manuscripts that are preserved until today in the general state archives and the other historical sources of our province, we learn that the Arini of today (former Tsorvatzi), has every reason to feel proud for its national contribution to the liberating fights of our country. The clarion call of the Greeks in 1821 did not leave the inhabitants of Tsorvatzi unmoved. More than 200 inhabitants with the Brigadier Fotis Misichronis as a leader and along with other fighters from the surrounding villages Golemi, Skliva, Trypes, Barakou, Alvaena, Koumouthekra, Smerna, Xirochori and Bischini, were present at the great call-over of the fight for the resurrection of the enslaved nation. The brigade of Arini 1821 was initially constituted by fighters from the villages Tsorvatzi, Skliva, Trypes and Barakou. Fotis Misichronis was appointed as commander of the Brigade. On the 16th March of 1821, the Brigade was gathered in the courtyard of the village’s church Saint Athanasius. A         doxology was chanted and father Dionysis Anagnostopoulos raised the flag of the revolution and blessed the arms. Afterwards, there followed the oath-taking of the brigade, who swore the oath “Freedom or Death” and then they departed at a fast pace towards Soultina, where the field marshals Th. Kolokotronis and Dim. Plapoutas were waiting for them. The brigade of Arini fought throughout the duration of the Greek fight. It participated in the battles of Niokastro and Palaiokastro of Pylia, under the command of the bishop and general of Methoni, Gregorios, who was descended from Minthi (Alvaena). It also participated in the battles of Lala, Patra, Tripoli, Mega Spileo of Kalavryta, Argos, Nafplio, Dervenakia, Ai-Sostis, Arachova and Stylida. It interrupted the course of Ibrahim Pasha towards Mesolongi at the passage (Klidi) of Kaiafa, in 1825, where it delivered a serious blow to the enemy, causing to it many losses. The Egyptian army commander, nervous and fierce as he had been by nature, arrived near Klidi and the dried-up, today, lake of Agoulinitsa and signaled attack against the defendants. The battle at Klidi had been very hard and unequal. The brigade suffered significant losses. The legendary flag-bearer of the Brigade, Asimakis or Anagnostis Kalatzis from Tsorvatzi (Arini) was killed in that battle, fighting heroically with the flag in his hands. Facing the danger to be surrounded by the numerous ordered and disordered troops of the Turk-Arabs of Ibrahim, the Brigade retreaded at the old Fortress of Samiko. There, they buried their dead and being very tired from the hard battle that lasted for many hours, they arrived at the village Smerna, where they were praised by the general Tzanetos Christopoulos and they received the expression of gratification by the field marshal Dim. Plapoutas. The latter gave immediately the order that the Brigade is regrouped. After all these incidents, the fate of Tsorvatzi, which suffered badly the consequences from the Egyptian army commander, was dark. The village was razed to the ground, with fire and iron. Ibrahim, in order to revenge the inhabitants of Arini gave also an order to cut and burn all the fruitful trees of the area and to throw grinded salt on the ground so that the trees not to grow again and give fruits for the preservation of the people and the animals.

In this way, Ibrahim believed that he would force the tough inhabitants of Arini to become his slaves. However the latter, having been trained in the guerilla war, were defending in their native land with ambushes that were setting up and decimated night and day the convoys of the Turks and they grabbed from them all their belongings, foods and ammunition. However, they also suffered significant losses. The ones that were caught as prisoners by the Turks suffered a tormenting death. They impaled them at the heights of the threshing floors of the village Bischini, and since then, this location bears the name “paloukario”. The distressed comrades of the prisoners, hidden in the surrounding hills, were watching with horror the torments their compatriots suffered by the Turks, but they were not worn down due to fear for the exemplary punishment and did not submit themselves to the Turks.

 First Mayor of Arini

Fotis Misichronis is registered with no. 14485 in the registers of the fighters of 1821. The chieftains of the county of Fanari, Dimos Kanellopoulos and P. Lamproulias confirm that Fotis Misichronis from Tsorvatzi served bravely its country in the fight for independence and participated in many battles.

The name Arini revived for the first time with the establishment of the first municipalities of the country, after the national liberation. The municipality of Arini had been among these municipalities, with Tsorvatzi as a capital. Fotis Misichronis was appointed as the first mayor, upon proposal of general Christopoulos and the approval of the field marshals Theodoros Kolokotronis and Dim. Plapoutas. They supported the mayor with a guard consisted in few soldiers, with the non-commissioned officer Govoris as leader, so at to impose the order at the territory, which order had been disturbed by pillages and spoilages that were effected systematically by small groups of unorganized people. Govoris was proved to be a “conjurer” and a “dancing master” regarding the fighting against these unorganized groups and with the measures he took, he forced them to become lawful and creative citizens. He prohibited to the troublemakers to pass through the central road of the village and obliged them to pass through the upper road that opened up only for them. There had been, in some way, citizens of second class. The pride and desire inside them to be lawful citizen themselves too, dominated in their conscience, their character changed and their disorderly behaviour was limited and afterwards faded. Govoris was descended from the village Krampovou of Megalopoli. Konstantinos Sinikis or Sakelariou from Andritsaina was appointed as the first secretary of the Municipality. He married the daughter of the Mayor and was ordained priest of the village, in replacement of father Dionysis Anagnostopoulos, who he was old at that time, and did not have any children.

First Inhabitants

If we go back to the years 1680-1700 it is ascertained that many bondsmen refused to make a formal disavowal of their belief or to kneel before the Turk conqueror, and as they were on the run, they wanted to find shelters at safe places, in order to save their lives. In this light we can explain how the first inhabitants that built the village around 1690-1700, came from several places of the prefecture of Messenia and the province of Olympia. However, as they were afraid of being discovered, they changed their surnames or they adopted two and three surnames. For example, those that came from Roumeli, had the surname Roumeliotis, those that came from Kopanitsa had the name Kopanitsanos, and so forth. Those who came from Kopanitsa were descendants of the family of Famelos, descended from Zakynthos. Abramis Mourchoutas from Stemnitsa (Ipsounta) of Gortynia was the first ancestor of the first residents of Tsorvatzi (Arini). When Stemnitsa was destroyed from an enemy invasion, Abramis, in order to save himself, followed the flow of the river Alpheus and arrived at the hiding places of the river Anigros, where he settled down.  He had had the children with the names Nikolakis, Asimakis and Georgakis. From the names of himself and their children the families Abramopoulos, Nikolakopoulos, Asimakopoulos and Georgakopoulos were formed. Their families proliferated and manned Tsorvatzi and afterwards they dispersed at the villages Golemi, Kalydona and Bischini. The census that took place under Grimani in 1700 mentions the village with the name Tsorvatzi and its population constituted in 6 families, 15 men and 10 women. In the census made by Maison in 1829-1830, the village is reported to have 60 families with 231 individuals. In the census of 1835 the village counts 77 families with 296 individuals. In the censuses that followed after 1835, an increase in the population is observed until 1920, a year in which the village consisted of 418 individuals. After 1920 we can observe a gradual decrease in the population. From the historic data that we mentioned, we can conclude that Arini of today, from the time that it was built, has run a course of more than 300 years. During this time period it went through several stages, either of flourishing or decadence and on another occasion with fights of our nation, yet it managed to survive and remain forever in history under the name Tsorvatzi.