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Kalavryta: The First Greek Town Liberated From the Ottomans

Kalavryta was the first Greek town liberated from the Ottomans. Public Domain

On March 21, 1821 the Greek rebels started the siege of Kalavryta, making it the first Greek town to be liberated from the Ottomans, thus declaring the start of the Greek War of Independence.

On the morning of March 21, 600 armed fighters were sworn in under the perennial plane tree of the monastery of Agia Lavra and according to some historians, said: “Not one Turk left in Moria (Peloponnese), nor in the whole world.”

A meeting followed where Bishop Palaion Patron Germanos called on Greeks to revolt and raised the flag of the revolution, a banner depicting the Assumption of Virgin Mary that was on the gate of the Temple of Agia Lavra.

One of the most well-known paintings of the Greek War of Independence is undoubtedly the one painted by Theodoros Vryzakis in 1865 depicting Metropolitan Palaion Patron Germanos, known also as Germanos III of Old Patras.

In the iconic image, Germanos is shown raising the flag of the revolution in the Agia Lavra Monastery and blessing the beginning of the Greek uprising on March 25, 1821.

Germanos was born in Dimitsana, Arcadia, on March 25, 1771. His secular name was Georgios Kozias, son of Ioannis Kozias, who was a jeweler.

The banner of the revolution at Kalavryta. Public Domain

The Greek chieftains led by Sotiris Charalambis, Asimakis Fotilas, Sotiris Theocharopoulos, Ioannis Papadopoulos, Nikolaos Soliotis and Nikolaos Petmezas, took a small cannon from the Monastery of Agia Lavra and besieged the city fortress.

On March 25 Kalavryta was free

The Turks under the command of Ibrahim Pasha Arnaoutoglou barricaded themselves in three towers, expecting military help from Tripolitsa. Four days later, the Ottomans succumbed and surrendered.

On March 25 Kalavryta was free. Every year Kalavryta celebrates the liberation of the city with festivities around the Agia Lavra monastery. For the next four years the locals never saw Turks wandering in the area.

On March 23 in Mani, Petrobey Mavromichalis and his warriors entered Kalamata and the whole Peloponnese revolted.

Quickly the message of revolution spread to the rest of Greece.

Greeks with the slogan “Freedom or Death” revolted against their ruler and began a brave struggle for freedom. Historian Nikolaos Papadopoulos described the liberation of the city as follows:

“It was dusk when approximately 200 warriors arrived at Kalavryta and started the battle for the liberation of the town. Soon the battle spread out as the rebels took over the Turkish officials’ towers, making the town their own. This was the first victorious battle and Kalavryta was the first free Greek city.”

“In the years of Turkish rule, Kalavryta was the largest city in the Morea and numbered 40,000 residents. The Turks stayed around the current monastery of Agia Aikaterini, where they had built two mosques.”

The people of Kalavryta remain proud that their city and monastery became the birthplace of the Greek War of Independence.

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