Prefecture of Achaia - Patras and Rio
Favorite thing: Achaea is one of the 51 prefectures of Greece and one of the 14 where I have been.
It is an ancient province on the northern coast of the Peloponnese. It’s bordering the Gulf of Corinth into which the mountain Panachaicus (1,902 m, the northernmost mountain range in the Peloponnese) projects.
Achaea is bounded on the west by the territory of Elis on the east by that of Sicyon.
Dubbed Greece's Gate to the West Patras is a commercial hub while its busy port is a nodal point for trade and communication with Italy and the rest of Western Europe.
In the Roman period Patras was a cosmopolitan centre of the eastern Mediterranean. According to Christian tradition it was also the place of Saint Andrew's martyrdom. Patras became a Christian centre since the early days of Christianity.
Aegio - The coast along the Corinth gulph
Favorite thing: Along the coast of the Corinth gulph, there is a little port where most of Greek bananas enter the country! Beside that, nice bars and restaurants lie along the sea front, separated by the railway line (Athens-Patras) that runs un-protected between the chairs and tables and the gravel of the shore.
Aegio - The old church
Favorite thing: Maybe this is not the "only" old church, but it is one that gives perfectly the idea of being cut from time and space. The bell is sounding very early in the morning, breaking the peaceful silence of dawn without really bothering.
Aegio - A city on two level
Favorite thing: The upper part of the city os where the centre and the main buildings are, including the old section and the Cathedral.
Fondest memory: From above, you may still notice old traditional houses where the garden remains an important element.
Agia Lavra Monastery
Favorite thing: The most famous monastery in Greece because it was here that the war of Independence of 1821 actually started. There is a lovely museum and beautiful views.
The monastery of Agia Lavra - 5 km from Kalavryta - is built at a point which commands a view of the whole Vouraikos river valley. The monastery church has a fine carved icon screen, frescos damaged by fire and the icon of Agia Lavra. Apart from the revolutionary banner, the relics include a very old Gospel - a gift of Catherine the Great, gold crosses, reliquaries and a valuable collection of early Christian and ancient objects.
Favorite thing: Patras is the capital of Peloponese and the 3rd largest Greek city with great nightlife. It is a port of entry, served with many ferries from Italy (more than 5 per day in the summer). There is a castle, built on the ruins of an ancient acropolis, an open air theater, a large square adorned with many trees facing the sea and the church of Agios Andreas. Nearby are also found the famous vineyards of Achaia Claus where wine tasting is free!
Cave of the Lakes
Favorite thing: The Cave of the Lakes is a true wonder of the area. Having never been in a cave before I was impressed!
A half-hour's drive from Kalavryta, near the village of Kastria, will bring you to the cave of the lakes.
Inside the cave there is a string of cascading lakes forming three different levels that establishes the uniquness in the world. The cave is an ancient subterranean river bed whose explored length is 1980 m. There are 13 picturesque lakes inside.
The walls are ornamented with couloured stalagmite and stalactite formation while "chandeliers", "medusas" and "fluted curtains" hang from the high 30 m. cellings. Reflections from the still waters add yet more magic to the scene.
The cave is open:
Daily from 9.30 till 16.30
(Holidays and summer months prolongation of the opening hours)
Favorite thing: The coasts of Achaia are a delightful concoction of picturesque villages, indented shores, gardens and shady trees.
Leaving Corinth, you take the coast road all the way to Patras. It's more scenic than the National Road.
This picture was taken in the picturesque village named Selianitika.
Favorite thing: The main ferry port on the Peloponese side linking it with the rest of Greece via the new bridge with Antirion. There is a castle here, called Moria which together with a castle built on the opposite side, controlled the Korinthian Gulf.
The bridge Rio-Antirio was finally finished in 2004 for Olympic Games. For a 10 Euro charge, drivers can easily make the crossing.
Favorite thing: Aigio is a lovely town, 2/3 of the way on the Korinth-Patras road. The town is built on the site of ancient Aigio, which used to be one of the 12 ancient federal cities. There is a ferry service to Agios Nikolaos and Nafpaktos, on the opposite side.
Monastery of Mega Spileon (Big cave)
Favorite thing: The monastery situated half way between Kalavryta and Diakofto, is based on a very old fable about a shepherdess who found an icon of the Virgin Mary inside a cave. She gave it to two monks, Simon and Theodore who built this Monastery during the 4th century.
You' re 1000 metres above sea level!
The War for Independence
Favorite thing: Across the road on another mountain is the monument that commemorates the heroes of the War for Independence. It's a huge statue with three giant figures: the priest, signifying Bishop Germanos and the role of the church, a klepht, one of the freedom fighters, and on top is a statue of a woman who symbolizes Greece being freed from her chains. From this mountain there is a spectacular view of the whole valley which is surrounded by pine covered mountains.
Helmos Ski Center
Favorite thing: The Helmos Ski Center lies 14 km from Kalavryta on the main peak of Helmos. It has two lifts to an equal number of lodges and slopes. Lift A goes up to 1800 metres, while Lift B serves the higher peak (2440 m.). From the higher lodge one can see the Gulf of Corinth, gleaming like a huge lake. From the ridge of the mountain, Neraidorachi, almost the whole Peloponnese lies at your feet.
It is from Neraidorachi that one makes the descent to the waters of the river Styx. According to myth, the Styx marked the entrance to Hades. Its parents were Night and Erebus. Today the loclas call it "Mavroneri" (Black Water), because of its colour in the depths of the ravine where it flows. The ancient Greeks believed it to be the fountain of immortality of the gods.
Favorite thing: Kalavryta is a lovely town, built at an altitude of 750 meters and served by a narrow gauge, toothed railway from Diakofto, on the Corinthian gulf. The train journey is not to be missed as it passed on one side of the wonderful Vouraiko gorge, with incredible views.
The actual town is built upon ancient foundations built by Hadrian, who in turn built it on the ruins of ancient Kinaitha. Over the years Kalavryta has played important roles in Hellenic independence. In the second world war, all the males of the town were assasinated by the Germans (1621 men). The date, 13 December 1943, will remain engraved in Greek memory, forever. The main clock in the town has stopped as a reminder of the event...
The Icon of the Virgin Mary
Favorite thing: 2000 years old icon of the Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child in her right arm is a relief made of wax and mastich, attributed to St. Luke. It burned many times that's why it looks so strange.
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