Romiri Settlement is located in the Peloponnese in the Prefecture of Messinia, north-east of Pylos. It has an altitude of 556 meters and an area of 7 square kilometers. Its terrain has a steep slope and is covered of 3,200 arable acres and 1,900 acres of wooded land. The first inhabitants of the village were cattle breeders who settled in the area at the beginning of the Turkish rule around 1500 AD. They preferred this place for three main reasons: First, because they found abundant drinking water, secondly, because it has a large agricultural area suitable for animal husbandry and thirdly because the place, far from road network and inhabited areas, was a nature reserve. After the creation creation of the newly formed state in 1823, the settlement experienced great economic and population growth. Engaging in agriculture (growing cereals, grains and vines) and animal husbandry allowed residents to recruit Lagada craftsmen from Arcadia for the construction of both private of homes as well as public buildings (schools and churches). Most of the buildings are dated from this period. In the census of 1846, Romyri was the second largest settlement in the area of the Municipality of Voufrados, while in 1897 the population of the settlement exceeded 500 people.
Since then the settlement has followed a downward trend, common to many similar settlements in the Peloponnese. The wars of the beginning of the 20th century, and then the second world war and the civil war, drastically reduce the population of the village. In an effort to extrovert and improve the conditions, the residents attempt to build a rudimentary 7 km road for vehicles with personal labor. This dirt rural road is preserved to this day, being the only entrance to the settlement. Then in the 1950s and 1960s, both internal and external migration reduced the population. In 1967, in the middle of a dictatorship, it was unilaterally decided by the state administration that the power supply and the road connection have a high cost. Thus it was decided with joint decision number E15119/3652/67 of the Ministry of Public Works, the transfer of the remaining population (87 people) to the Community of Mesopotamos, which is located at a lower altitude. For the settlement of the residents in the said community, 55 rural houses were erected. Since then and for 50 years the settlement was completely abandoned. The buildings, both private and public (except the central church), were in a dilapidated state. In recent years, the association has developed a significant volunteer project, attempting to rescue and protect the remaining shells in order to succeed in repopulating the settlement. These works include the reconstruction of the four churches, the maintenance of the paths that connect the settlement and the construction of a central calterium, in parallel with the organization of festive festivals framed by collective sports and artistic activities.
Today, the cultural association, within the framework of the above effort, is asking for the reconstruction of of two public buildings (the old and the new school) in the central square in an effort to give new uses and to accommodate collective activities. From the first visits to the settlement it was obvious that every effort had to be made not only in the two public buildings, piecemeal, but to be done in the context of a holistic treatment of the settlement. The design must come as an expression of a coordinated strategy for the revitalization of the settlement based focused on questions that describe contemporary needs. Questions that only interdisciplinary can to be felt, in order to establish a theoretical background, capable of feeding design solutions.
The village has four churches (Agios Nikolaos, Zoodochos Pigi, Agia Varvara and Agios Nikolaos- in Vounenois) the first three were built in the 19th century while the church of Agios Nikolaos in Vounenois it was built in the 15th century. After a concerted effort by the cultural association and in collaboration with volunteers from the three churches were preserved and the cemetery chapel of Agia Varvaras was restored. The above works were carried out for the most part by volunteers.
Location: Messenia, Greece
Project Year: 2020-23
Project Type: Research