Karagiozis is a shadow puppet, the main character of Greek shadow-puppet theatre.
It seems that shadow theatre comes ultimately from Indonesian or Chinese traditions. It was later established in Asia Minor. From there, it seems to have come to mainland Greece at the 19th century, during Ottoman rule. It is still performed in Turkey, where the main character is called Karagoz (Black Eye). Karagiozis was hellenized in Patras in the end of 19th century by Dimitrios Sardounis, Mimaros, who is considered the founder of modern Greek shadow theater.
The genre is very popular in Greece. Some stories say that it was a Greek who created the stories during Ottoman rule for the entertainment of the sultan.
Karagiozis is a poor hunchbacked Greek, with a long right hand, ragged and patched clothes and bare feet. He lives in a poor cottage during the times of the Ottoman Empire. Karagiozis is a trickster who uses mischievous ways to find money and feed his family. Other characters are his wife, his three sons (Kollitiria), the Vizier and his daughter Fatme, Hadjiavatis (Karagiozis’ counterpart), Barba Giorgos (Uncle George)…
There are also Heroic stories in which Karagiozis is presented as a helper and assistant of an important hero.
This picture was taken in Plateia Georgiou. An International Festival of Shadow Theater was to be celebrated.
As a major Greek city-the third Greek city by its population size-the Municipality of Patras organizes every summer an interesting festival, dedicated to music, dance, theatre, cinema, painting.
The "strong points" of the festival: its venues, like the famous Roman Odeon, and the Castro (Fortress) of Patras.
Patras’ Carnival (Patrino Karnavali in greek) is the most famous in Greece. Many people (especially young ones) from all over Greece go there and drink, have fun, drink, watch the colorful carnival, drink, pay prices from outerspace, drink and did I tell you that they drink? :)
Patras carnival is based on the local customs of the bourgeoisie during the 19th century. After the Ionian islands reunited with Greece many customs from there were added and it was the beginning of the 20th century that the first groups were made, music for the carnival was written etc There are several different events like parades, a game called hunting of hidden treasure etc The big parade on the last Sunday (before Clean Monday that the orthodox start to prepare for the Easter) is the big event of course with the ritual burn of the King Carnavalos at the end (near the harbour) while fireworks fill the sky (pic 2). It’s that day that all the visitors come, the hotels are fully booked but the young people don’t care because they drink all night and just return the morning after :)
The parade goes through the streets of the city (pic 3), this year (2010) was very difficult to watch due to heavy rains that spoiled the atmosphere, that’s why I don’t have good pictures, the old ones are really old but I promise to have better ones next year :)
"LOUX" (in English corresponds to: LUXE), used to be a small local brand name in the field of refreshments, founded in 1950, somewhere in the city of Patras.Little by little, LOUX became "a local giant" and now is one of the major Greek refreshment brand names!
A "success story" that started in Patras and now, you can find "LOUX Refreshments" everywhere in Greece!
Once in Patras or Patra, as we call it in Greek, do not forget to try the local liqueur of Patras called: "Tentoura".It is a sweet liqueur made of aromatic herbs.It is easy to ask for it and bring it home, as a nice souvenir from Patras.Its name, does not give you any pronunciation problem!
You can find Tentoura in every liquor shop around the port.
Carnival is a big thing in and around Patras. Many locals (incl. students) are involved in carnival groups and they work virtually throughout the year in order to produce the best possible result. Depending on the date of the Orthodox Easter (it is a moving feast and it doesn't always coincide with the Catholic/Protestant Easter) the Carnival period usually falls in late February or early March. At least three big parades take place: one for kids, one on the last Saturday night (called the on-foot parade) and one on the last Sunday afternoon, with impressive chariots. There are also several parties and other events, some open to "locals and special guests" only and some to all. It is during the Carnival days and especially the last weekend that Patras becomes a real tourist destination.
Messolonghi (or Messolongi or Missolonghi) is famous for being the place of one of the most famous sieges in the Greece Independent War against Otoman Empire (1826).
For most foreigners, Messolonghi is the place where Lord Byron died, in 1824, of a fever that was probably a relapse of the malaria that he had contracted in 1811.
A bus from Patras will take you there in 1 hour and 15 minutes.
H I S T O R Y (For those who are interesting:)
------Patras was formed in Mycenaen times by the merging of three rural colonies. Achaeans came from the Laconia led from Patreas, after whom the city was named.
Patras contribution to the assembly of the confederancy of the Achaean League was desicive (280 B.C.) as its function was based on equality and democracy.
Apostle Andrew preached in Patras, where he was crucified and buried in 68 A.D. During the Roman domination, Patras became the leading power in the Peloponnese, reaching its height in the 2nd century A.D.
When Constantinople became the new capital of the Roman Empire, Patras lost its commercial importance.
After the 9th century, it gained new financial prosperity, mainly from silk production and procesing.
During the Franks Domination, Patras became a barony with head quarters, under the Pope's suzerainty. In 1460 the Turks took over. Patras was amongst the first to turn against the turkish occupation, gaining final freedom in 1828.
The modern city was built by Kapodistria on its ancient remains. Today Patras is one of the most attractive Greek cities, with its wonderful street planning system. It is an important commercial industrial centre. It's advantegous position, being within easy reach of famous sights, such as Olympia, Delphi, Epidaurus, Kalavrita and so on, has made it a great tourist attraction.
The house of Kostis Palamas (Greek National Poet).
It's the house where the poet lived his first years (241 Korithou str.)