Vamvakou lies on the west side of the Parnonas mountain range, at an altitude of 2,963 feet above sea level; it belongs to the municipal sector of Oinountas of the municipality of Sparta. It was built in the 15th century. The name of the village – Vamvakou [Pampakon] – probably derives from the medieval Greek word for cotton [vamvax], as stated as well by the historian Sarandos Kargakos in his speech on August, 3 of 2013 in the village square.
In its heyday, Vamvakou numbered 200 families – in fact, the village was known for its large families. The inhabitants of Vamvakou [Vamvakites], based on data about their average life expectancy, were characterized by long life, with some of them living beyond 100 years old.
Regarding the village’s economic activity, historical data and traditions reveal that its people were mostly into farming – working with walnut trees, chestnut trees, potatoes, cherry trees, pear trees and vegetables – as well as into livestock breeding, with testimonials mentioning that there was a time when 30,000 sheep and goats were grazing around the village. And, of course, one thing that deserves special mention is the famous wine that was being produced there, named Oinountiadis Oinos. At the same time, Vamvakou evolved into a village of workshops bustling with activity, mainly in relation to cotton that came all the way from the East. Finally, some Vamvakites got to study and practice medicine and teaching with great success.
There are documents for the fights and sacrifices of the people of Vamvakou both before and after the Greek War of Independence. They played a major role in the Balkan Wars and the Greco-Turkish War. On the monument to the fallen heroes standing in the village square, there is a reference to 22 war casualties, while 2 more people lost their life during World War II. The death toll during the German Occupation and the Civil War was even higher.
Immigration is a chapter in history involving a lot of pain and sorrow for those who experienced it. The majority of the people emigrated at the end of the 19th century, mostly to the U.S., South Africa, Australia, Egypt and Russia (explaining the nickname “Russians” that was attributed to several Vamvakites). At the entrance of the village, there is a characteristic landmark dedicated to the uprooting of that period, called Stathmos Sygkiniseos [Emotion Station], which was the departure point for dozens of Vamvakites after having to say farewell to relatives and friends.
When the Peloponnese was conquered by the Turks, it was divided into 24 provinces, known as kazades. Vamvakou pertained to the province of Mystras – a fact that justifies the byzantine interconnection of the two area.
Worthy of mention is the burning of the temple of Assumption by Ibrahim Pasha on May, 12 of 1826. The church was torn down due to the instability of the ground; its reconstruction started in 1900 and was eventually completed in 1913.
From the beginning of 1800 until 1833, Vamvakou served as the seat of the Diocese of Vresthena. Having Vamvakou as his base, Bishop Theodoritos the Second took part – as head of the people of Vamvakou – in battles throughout the Struggle for Liberation, with the most outstanding being that of Tripolis.