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by Archaeology Newsroom

Pronoea, the First Refugee Settlement of Free Greece

In December 1822 a treaty is signed in Nauplion between Greeks and Turks. Nauplion is Greek again after six centuries of foreign occupation. In January 1828, Kapodistrias arrives in Greece and undertakes the governing of the newly established state. One of his major concerns was the town-planning reconstruction of the country. In the Spring of 1828 St. Voulgaris from Corfu, an engineer and officer of the French army is instructed by Kapodistrias to register all the refugees who live in huts in Nauplion and then to choose together a suitable location for the construction of the new settlement. Thus the first organized project of building popular houses, especially purposed for refugees, in modern Greece was created. The chosen location lies NE of Palamidi and Voulgaris draws the plans. Unfortunately, the first two town plans of Pronoea have not survived. The oldest plan of the suburb, which has been preserved, is drawn by the Brigade Topographique of the French army. However, the most informative plan is the one of 1833, drawn by the Bavarian geometer Gebhard and the next plan, of 1834, also made by the Bavarians P. I Hatter, F. Frund and B. Kutter is fully representing the existing situation. The suburb is soon inhabited. Besides the indigent refugees a lot of wealthy citizens settle there. The price proposed for buying land in Pronoea is very low. Soon the building in the suburb begins. According to the census of 1831 Pronoea occupies an area of 24,000 square meters and has 1,700 inhabitants. Today the corresponding numbers are 230,000 and 3,466 respectively, which means that the suburb is densly populated. The present settlement differs only slightly from that of the Kapodistrian time. Although it lacks the impressive, beautiful buildings of the historic center of Nauplion, it is a homogeneous architectural entity that exhibits quite interesting features: a low sky-line and characteristic streets and houses, Pronoea is the first planned refugee settlement of Greece, therefore, it must be considered as especially important.