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General Information for Achaia

Achaia Kalavryta.
A most beautiful little town with high altitude, built on the fir-verdant slope of Mt Helmos. It has a very long history and it had been invaded by many invaders. The year 1460 was seized by the Turks. The Kastro of Oreas (the castle of the beautiful) symbolizes the suicide of Ekaterini Palaeologou - the daughter of the Archon - who chose to die instead of being captured by the Turks.

Near that Kastro there is the famous Monastery of Aghia Lavra, where the torch of the Greek Revolution of 1821 was lit. At the museum of the convent many heirlooms of that period are preserved. Another historical site is the famed Monastery of Mega Spelaeo. This is one of the recent historical events that characterize this place, the other, and most recent one, is that December 13, 1943 the worst atrocity of WWII, took place when the Nazis burned the town and killed all male population over 13 years old in reprisal to resistance activities. The clock of the cathedral has permanently stopped at 2:43 to symbolize the time when the Massacre began.

Kalavryta is one of the most picturesque towns of Achaia which offers beautiful seashore villages - that come alive in the summer - and the incomparable beauty of its mountains. All those along with the beautiful shores, from Akrata to Kaloghria; Patra - the city of merriment, entertainment and culture - the Panachaic and Erymanthos; Halandritsa with the Frankish antiquities; the fir-covered Phteri; the black falls that drop from the summit of Mt Helmos, compose the beautiful nome of Achaia, which has become the pole of attraction of tourists, all year round. Achaia borders Corinthia (east), Arcadia (south), Elia (west) and takes in the Gulf of Patra and the Gulf of Corinth (west).

The capital not only of the Achaia nome but of the entire region of Western Greece as well, facilitates all tourists coming by ferry-boat from Italy. It is Greece's third largest city, with a rich history, tradition and past. Birthplace of: many significant political figures (including prime-ministers and one president), numerous literary men - the best known Kostis Palamas - people of the arts and of others.

It is also internationally known as the Carnival capital (unlike Rio di Janeiro's, Patra's celebration is non-commercial) and attracts a great number of participants and spectators. It is a pretty city with good street tracing, neo-classical buildings, hundreds of restaurants/tavernas and bars. Distinguishing feature is the arches of the houses that form arcades on the sidewalks.

In the central square of Vassileos Georgiou there is a small replica of la Scala of Milan - the Municipal Theatre - where various cultural and carnival festivities are performed. Another popular square is that of the Psilalonia (high thrashing-floors), which is a large nature's balcony with lots of greenery gazing the sea. There is also the statue of Palaeon Patron Germanou (one of the protagonists of the Greek Revolution). Over the Ano Poli (upper city) starts a grove, on it there is the castle - built on the ancient acropolis - from where the view of the Gulf of Patra is absolutely breath taking. There you could also see the Roman Conservatory - in excellent condition - where many theatrical performances and concerts take place. A replica of the Church of Pantokratora (of the Lord), in Constantinople, with leaden-shielded domes, is located there. In Patra there are interesting churches among them the two former Catholic Churches: Pantanassa and the Cathedral and the Aglican Church of St Paul, while at the south tip of the harbour is the famous church of St Andrew (the patron Saint of the city). The building of the Municipal Library which also houses the Municipal Gallery with the significant works of important artists. The Archaeological Museum houses many findings that the excavations in the city - that are still going on - unearthed, representing many periods like: Neolithic, Mycenean, Archaic and Roman.

Going up - from the train station or the pier - towards the Kastro on Aghiou Nikolaou street, you see the Church of St Nicholas from there on, the road leads to the steps that take you to the Castle with the breath-taking view. Aghiou Nikolaou St, is one of the main streets where many stores and restaurants are located.

Not to be missed the old Monastery of the Home of the Aged (Gerokomeio) the view is superb and the restaurants are very good. Also, the Achaia Clauss winery - about 5 1/2 miles south-east of Patra - where some of the finest wines of the country are produced. It was founded by the Bavarian Baron von Clauss and its first wine Mavrodaphne (black daphne/laurel) - a dessert wine - was named after the Baron's love interest who died of tuberculosis. To tour the winery and free-sample the wine, take the No 7 bus from Kolokotroni and Kanakari Sts. The winery is open daily from 7:30am to 1pm and from 4 to 7pm (for off season the hours are from 10am to 4:30pm).

In Patra there is a well-equipped sandy beach at Aghia, among others. A wonderful experience awaits the fearless traveler from Diakofto to Kalavryta -on the rack-and-pinion railway. It goes through the magnificent Vouraikos gorge ascending about 3,000 ft within 14 miles. If you are the adventurous type go for it, the experience will definitely uplift you.