The goal of the proposed Parrhasian Heritage Park is to sustain an area of cultural significance, outstanding natural beauty and rich archaeological sites while encouraging local communities to continue living and working within the protected landscape.
This ‘living park’ mission objective encourages natural, cultural and scenic resources to be managed for both long-term vitality and use as an essential part of local livelihoods and traditions. Success for the park will mean the enhancement of local residents’ pride and sense of stewardship, support for ongoing cultural activities, increased economic strength in the region and the protection of the natural, archaeological, scenic and recreational resources for future generations. Park goals include:
- To protect the unique vernacular features of the region that have developed over time to exemplify the Greek agricultural landscape.
- To preserve and provide access to the areas of outstanding natural beauty found in the area, such as the Neda River gorge.
- To highlight and protect significant archaeological sites including: the first Greek sanctuary to be recognized on the World Heritage List, the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassai; one of the famous Pan-Hellenic sanctuaries, Mt. Lykaion, that features the only visible hippodrome in the Greek world, and an altar that may have been used over 5,000 years ago in the Sanctuary of Zeus.
- To allow citizen and government collaboration on planning to share their concerns about localized needs.
- To encourage economic growth associated with tourism, bringing an estimated one million new visitors to the area.
- To establish guidelines for managing change in the region.
- To protect the integrity of the existing cultural and natural landscape.
- To support the traditional culture that exists in the modern day.
The creation of the Parrhasian Heritage Park has been a collaborative effort between Greeks and Americans working towards a common goal. From the very beginning of the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project in 2003 there was a strong awareness between the Directors of the project and the local community of Ano Karyes that the preservation of the surrounding mountainous landscape, with numerous archaeological sites, was of the utmost importance. The result has been the formation of a group of individuals that are working towards the creation of the first large scale heritage park in Greece, and one that will protect and unify aspects of Arcadia, Elis and Messenia.
A heritage park is unique in Greek park terminology and legislation because it encompasses the full range of typical park classifications including archaeological, natural, recreational, scenic, and cultural features.
A Park Unique to Greece
The proposed park would also do something that is not typical for other Greek parks; the boundary encompasses the towns, villages and agrarian areas that surround the major natural, cultural or scenic resources in an area. In doing so, it enables these communities to benefit most from their own surrounding resources.
This type of park is also different in that the local community itself leads in managing the park; typically a local organization made up of people from the region, including residents from towns and villages, business owners, farmers, as well as representatives from local, regional and national government. This coalition exists to oversee the creation, protection and success of the park.
In addition, a heritage park does not only protect the physical resources and landscape character of a region but also serves to promote traditional ways of life, local festivals, locally made products and strengthens community identity.
A community workshop was held in Megalopolis, Greece in August 2010 to present the proposal for the park. The workshop was attended by over 200 members of the community, who enthusiastically demonstrated their support for the idea of the park. Based on the input from workshop participants, the following steps are instrument to the successful creation of the park:
- The current planning effort to create the park is led by a university partnership between Greek and United States institutions, while also supported by local communities in the proposed park area.
- A coalition will need to be created consisting of representatives from local communities, the local government, the archaeological service representing the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and key advisers from Greek and United States universities.