Ancient Arcadia occupied the highlands at the centre of the Peloponnese. The area takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. The region was mostly mountainous, apart from the plains around Tegea and Megalopolis, and the valleys of the Alpheios and Ladon rivers.
In ancient and medieval times, Arcadia was renowned as a beautiful, secluded area. It was sparsely populated, and the inhabitants were mostly pastoralists. In literature and art, the area was associated with an idyllic rural paradise, where people lived in harmony with nature. This image is portrayed in Virgil’s Eclogues, and later by Jacopo Sannazaro in his pastoral painting, Arcadia, of 1504. During the Renaissance, Arcadia was imagined as a lost Eden.
In modern times, Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece, covering the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula.