Achaia Clauss winery
In 1854 Gustav Clauss, a representative of the Bavarian company Fels and Co., decided to settle in Patras after a business trip to the region. He was so enthused with the beauty of the natural landscape of the area. According to his diary and other reports, he discovered “a paradise of vineyards which covered the surrounding hills of Patras, which he thought must certainly produce the best wine”. In 1959 Gustav purchased an area of 60 acres of land in Riganokampos, 8 km from Patras, at an altitude of 500 meters. His initial interest was in blackcurrants, and he built a summer residence there, where he planted a few vines as a hobby.
In 1861 he established the winery “Achaia Clauss”, which initially was managed by the estate of the “Jakob Klipfel Company”. The first years of Achaia Clauss were extremely difficult since the property was attacked almost daily by gangs of brigands. The new venture nevertheless managed to survive and to establish itself in the region through its links with the central Greek government of the King Otto of Greece (Otto Friedrich Ludwig von Wittelsbach, 1815 - 1867, reign 1833 - 1862), who was a prince of Bavarian origin. Gradually Gustav built a homestead settlement, complete with medieval style towers, following the French style of “Chateau Viticole”, thus enabling an entire village to live, work and develop around the nucleus of the industry of wine production. Over the years, Gustav’s passion and wisdom transformed the small winery into a cradle of legendary wines.
In 1872 the owners of Fels and Co., together with Theodor Harburger and Gustav Clauss, founded the “Achaia Wine Company”. The next year sees the birth of a warm, full-bodied, sweet desert wine with a distinctive dark violet color. A legend says that Gustav fell in love with a beautiful Greek girl with black hair and eyes, whose name was Daphne, and he gave her name to the wine he produced (“mavro” in Greek means “black”). Thus “Mavrodaphne” wine was born, from a vine-tree variety transplanted from the Ionian Islands. It has been said that it was his Iberian approach to vinification and his love for sweet wine that made Mavrodaphne a successful crop in the region and subsequently, an appellation wine.
From 1873 until 1881 the company was managed by Emil Werl, and from 1883 by Gustav Clauss himself. Soon after, in 1901, using the tantalizing and aromatic vine-tree variety of Muscat, he gave rise to a charming delicate white wine of the mountainsides of Kalavryta, and he bottled “Demestica” for the first time. Taking its name from the village of Demestiha, it became the first bottled dry wine of Greece. Demestica became the ambassador for Greek wine production, its fame rapidly crossing the borders to spread Gustav’s wine-making skills all over the world. By laying the foundations of natured wine-making, Gustav Clauss passed on to future generations of his métier, his love of the land and its fertility, and his gratitude to the country which accepted him and offered him its hospitality.
Gustav Clauss, the ever-young, rebellious bohemian and bon viveur, died shortly after, and the company passed into the hands of a German named Gudert, from whom on the outbreak of World War I, the Greek government confiscated the factory as an enemy alien asset. In 1919 it passed into Greek ownership. The plant's gradual modernization and technical production begins. The traditional wine-making section however is preserved, together with the name of its founder, providing evidence of the fundamental contribution of ACHAIA CLAUSS to the development of refined wines in Greece. A major landmark was in 1955 when the company installed new machines in the factory and recruited a team of specialists. In 1983 the company launched their new bottling plant.
ACHAIA CLAUSS is by now famous in over 40 countries around the world with 156 International Distinctions, 15 major prizes, 51 gold and 38 silver medals as well as countless diplomas, all displayed in the Cellar for the visitors, and bearing witness to ACHAIA CLAUSS’s reputation in the international wine market.
The Achaia Clauss factory has many storage areas with a total capacity of about 7500 tones. The main ones are the storage of old Mavrodaphne wine, the storage of table wines, the subterranean tanks, and the Danielis storage room. Of special interest is the "imperial cellar", in which every barrel is a memoir of visits by Greek and foreign kings. The most noteworthy part of the facilities is the bar. The chairs and tables are made to look like barrels, the chandeliers are made of green bottles and the curtains are made of corks.
Today ACHAIA CLAUSS is a modern business and winery. After all, it is a part of the heritage of this land which has been glorified since the antiquity for its wine production, withstood the test of time and progressed. It is one of the largest wineries in Greece and an exporter of cork-sealed Greek wine. Its production includes about 40 different wines and spirits ranging from young, refreshing wines to boutique-style wines with depth and richness. The winery produces an excess of three million cases of wine each year on facilities capable of handling 20,000 bottles per hour. Its most famous products are still Mavrodaphne and Demestica.
Since its establishment the site has always been a popular destination for visitors and continues to be so. Through the years, many important people have visited Achaia Clauss, like Otto von Bismarck, Franz Liszt, Empress Sissy of Austria, General Montgomery, Alexander Fleming, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Omar Sharif, King Gustav-Adolf of Sweden, Queen Alexandra of Great Britain, Queen Louise of Sweden, to name but a few. Each year, the winery receives 250,000 visitors, who have the opportunity to taste these beautiful wines, and to visit the cellars, which house ornate barrels with more than 100 years old wines. It is in this very cellar that the oldest wine in Greece, an 1873 Mavrodaphne, is stored.
- Farm Stay
- Wine Tasting
- Family Travel
I am a post-graduate student and I live in Patras. When I firstly came at Patras I knew only about the well known places to go. But I didn't have a clue where to go to eat delicious plates or to go shopping. After a year I discovered two very usefull sites that in a superb way are tourist guides of where to go and where to be every hour of the day. Events, sales, offers, good restaurants, bars and clubs of Patras writen by the people who live and are interested for this Town of Greece. You can easily find from virtual tourist where to go out for a walk but you miss the living of the place. I find virtual tourist a very usefull tool but i think that it can expand.
Finally I ll share the two sites I mentioned before:
The Rion-Antirion Bridge
The Rion-Antirion Bridge goes across the Bay of Corinth and connects the Peloponnese with mainland Greece. It is almost 9,500 ft long, and is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world. It is in an area with a lot of seismic activity, and it was built to accommodate that movement.
It opened in 2004, just before the 2004 Olympic Games, and the first person to cross it was the runner with the Olympic torch. The bridge was also blessed by the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church. Before it opened, the only way across was an expensive ferry.
The bridge’s visitor center/museum is worth a visit--it has a number of displays about the bridge, including the Olympic torch.
This was a beautiful drive along the coast—the beautiful bridge, turquoise sea, cream and yellow houses with orange tile roofs, and lots of flowers in bloom.
- Museum Visits
"The Municipal Gallery of Patras"
It is really a pity that few people know this "jewel": the Municipal Galery of Patras.It was founded in 1988 and is housed on the ground floor of the Municipal Library, besides the Old Town Hall, a location with many historical memories.
The Municipal Galery of Patras boasts of one of the richest painting collections dedicated to Greek painters, outside Athens.Of special interest and precious value, are the works of the 19th ventury, by Greek painters like: Nikos Kounelakis, Andreas Kriezis, Ioannis Doukas and Georgios Samartzis, as well as the portraits of Greek prime ministers, originated from Patras, as: Demetrios Maximos, Demetrios Gounaris and Andreas Michalakopoulos.
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
- Study Abroad
Other churches in the center
Some other interesting churches in the city center are:
Pantanassa church (pic 1). A big impressive but ugly church considering the fact it isn’t the usual orthodox style. But the architecture is a matter of personal taste, I’ve read many articles that consider this church as an architectural jewel. It was under renovation during my visit and the people were having the Sunday morning ceremony next to it at a small chapel next to the church (pic 2). The Pantanassa church was built at the same spot where a small church (dedicated to Virgin Mary) was during the ottoman occupation. The church we see today was built in 1859 (but started in 1847). The clock was put in 1884 and it is still in use. Some of the paintings inside are made by Xatzigiannopulos and Prinopulos, local famous painters of that era. In front of the church you can read a sign that says “come to my house and in fear, cause this place is sacred”, just in case you didn’t know this is a church :)
I visited Eisodia church (pic 3) on my way back from the Old Town. It’s located at the top of several stairs but looks nice from the street level. It’s 50m away from the Odeum at Eisodia street. It is a side church from Agios Nikolaos parish. The legend says that it was built by a woman and she dedicated it to Virgin Mary. We don’t really know when it was built but the oldest written document is from 1848. Actually, there was a small church there and the one we see today was built in 1982 in the usual byzantine style by the architecture Ioannis Vais.
Agios Dionysios church (pic 4) is located near the port at the Agios Dionysios district. The church was built in 1829 by Greeks that came to Patra from Zakinthos island. In 1909 the old church was teared down and a new one was built in 1928. For some strange reason the man (guard?) was kind of upset while I was taking pictures there.
And the last church is the one that made me laugh, it is another church (under construction actually, pic 5) dedicated to… …guess who! Yes, to Saint Andrew of course :) The church is called Agios Andreas Ierapostolos (Apostle Saint Andrew)
- Religious Travel
In walking distance from the center is the Vor.Ipiru (North Epirus) square (pic 1). I just wanted to visit Agia Sofia church (pic 2) that has some nice murals inside (pic 3) but during the ceremony (a baptism) it was difficult to take many pictures there without disturbing the locals although they were all focused on the baby :).
So, I went out and noticed the fountain opposite the square (pic 4) showing a woman staring at the water while the streets started to get busy (they are day and nights by the way). This square is gonna be the first as you coming from Athens towards the center of Patras.
The streets around there aren’t cute at all and even a small chapel dedicated to Agios Alexios (two blocks away from the square) was ugly too (pic 5).
- Religious Travel
Anglican Church of Saint Andrew
After the second day I had lost the number of the churches dedicated to Saint Andrew! After many orthodox ones all over the city and the catholic one at Vas.Olgas square I noticed another one, the Anglican Church of Saint Andrew!! It’s between huge green plants and I liked the neogothic style of it. It was built in 1872 with the financial help of the local Anglican protestant community. It has a gabled roof and nice long windows, the church was fully built by granite stones that came by boat from Scotland!
The church is also used for several events like art exhibitions etc
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
It seems the city wants to honour the famous greek poet Kostis Palamas (1859-1943) so I noticed several spots in the city about him.
His house is the most interesting one, a building that is located at 241 Korinthou street, in city center. It is the house (pic 1) that Palamas was born and when he moved to Athens it was the place where Serao family (from Italy) lived and where the Italian writer Matilde Serao (1856-1927) was born. In our days it houses the Kostis Palamas Institution.
Kostis Palamas is one of the most famous greek poets with more than 40 poetry collections, many theatrical plays and other books. He lived in Patras only for 6 years. It was that age when he lost both his parents and moved to live in Mesologgi with an ankle of him.
I saw some statues of him in the city with the most famous at Normal square (or Kostis Palamas square in some maps). It is a small square with a bronze statue of Kostis Palamas, showing him skeptical (pic 2).
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
other churches in Old Town
Before my visit to Pantokratoras church in the Old Town I checked some other churches around.
Agios Dimitrios church (pic 1) was the only one I could go inside though as all the others were closed. I checked the interior (pic 2) which was very typical for an orthodox church but nothing to get excited with.
At the back yard were a lot of children playing football and screaming like crazy, I skip them and reached Agios Fotios church. It’s a tiny chapel actually (pic 3), the sign outside informs us that it belongs to the orthodox army (whatever it is) and that there is a ceremony every Sunday at 17.30. I took my pic and returmed back toward the castle area.
- Religious Travel
Old town or upper city (Ano Poli) is called the area under the castle of Patras. I loved walking around here and check the old houses, some nice neoclassical buildings and interesting sites like the Roman Odeum, Pantokratoras church, the old municipal hospital etc
There is even an old Hamam there (pic 1). It was built in 1400 (during the Venetian era) and kept in good shape by the ottomans who liked and were using hamam anyway. It is still in use (after the renovation in 1987) and from what they say one of the last ones in Europe. It is located at 29 Mpoukaouri street.
It is open for women 9.00-21.00 on monday, Wednesday, Friday and for men 14.30-17.00 on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. The entrance fee is 5 euro Tel:2610274267
Of course, the most impressive building in the Old Town is the Pantokratoras church (pic 2) with the impressive bronze cupolas. The legend says that the Greeks during the revolution against the Ottomans used the bronze to make bullets. The interior has some interesting paintings too(pics 3-4). There was an ancient temple on the spot where the church is dedicated to Zeus. The first christen church was built here at 900AD but it turned into a mosque during the ottoman empire. The one we see today was built after the revolution and based on Agia Sofia (in Istanbul).
Behind Pantokratoras church you can see the Old Municipal Hospital(pic 5). It’s a neoclassical building that was built at the end of 19th century by the Danish architecture Ch. E. Hansen. It was a hospital from 1872 till 1973 but in our days houses cultural events and exhibitions. The entrance is from Papadiamontopoulou 17A, there’s no entrance fee and it is open 8.00-15.00
Directions:just walk up Agiou Nikolaou street
- Religious Travel
- Arts and Culture
I walked up the Gerokostopulu stairs to reach the Roman Odeum which is the oldest in Greece. Although its not impressive and beautiful as the one in Athens I liked it a lot on a sunny morning with the guard of the place telling me “sorry” many times because of some garbage in some areas of the theatre! I asked why and he told me that the previous night there was a dance performance and he didn’t have time to clean yet! First I checked the surrounded area where I saw some mosaics(pic 2) etc Then, I walked up the stairs of the Odeum (pic 3) but of course I wish I could see a performance here. If you visit Patras during the summer period check for posters all over the city for performances and concerts here. It has a capacity of 2800 people. You can visit the Odeum for free daily (except Monday) 08.00-15.00.
The Odeum is still in good shape with nice decoration (Pausanias talked about it after his visit in 170BC, he also mentions an Apollo statue but you cant see it today). The people of Patra supported Etolians against Galatians (279BC) and they created the Odeum with the spoils that war. The Odeum was partly destroyed because of wars and earthquakes and covered by ground but came back to light in 1889 by accident! The authorities needed ground for the port and when they dig the hill they found the Odeum! It was only in 1956 when the whole area was turned into an entire archeological site.
The square Agiou Georgiou (officially now as 25 of March) is opposite the Roman Odeum (pic 4). There are some tables where you can relax for a while. It’s a historical square because this was the square where the greek revolutioners gathered (along with people from Patra) on 22nd of March 1821 to hear the where Germanos (the bishop of Patra) canted for those who would fall in battle and prayed for the victory (the revolutioners screamed “freedom or death” as you can see in many monuments (pic 5) dedicated to the greek revolution all over Greece). By the way, Patra had been burned by the turks in 1779 some years after the unsuccessful revolution of 1770.
- Theater Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Churches at Maizonos street
There are two churches worth visiting at Maizonos street, located opposite V.Olgas square one next to each other.
The first one is the Roman Catholic church of Saint Andrew (yes, it’s him again). There used to be a smaller chapel there (from 1840) due to the efforts of bishop of Syros who was in charge for the catholics of Peloponnese area too. But there were a lot of catholics so a much bigger cathedral was built in 1937 just before the WWII. There are many icons of St.Andrew inside but I have to admit that when I visited the church I couldn’t stand any more references to him :) pics 1-2 are day and night shots of the church.
The other church is Evangelistria church (pics 3-4). It was built in 1846 by Tsiler (this architecture must have been everywhere in Greece during the 19th century and he’s responsible of so many neoclassical style buildings). I spend some time checking the interior (pic 5)
- Religious Travel
Maizonos street is one of the main commercial streets, you can walk from one side to the other for shopping but also for sightseeing while you can stop at the main squares (Vas.Georgiou or Vas.Olgas) for coffee break.
There are some interesting churches (read next tip) near Vas.Olgas square but I also enjoyed the building of Arsakeion Parthenagogion. It was built in 1892 by the greek architecture Anastasios Metaksas and it was housed the famous school. Now, it houses art exhibitions, installations, theatre plays while some small rooms (once classrooms) are used as projection rooms . I liked the exterior with the tall coconut tree at the entrance(pic 1). The famous Arsakeion School was founded in 1891 (in another area) for the rich students of the city (till then their parents were paying for private lessons at home, it seems they were allergic to the public schools).
At Maizonos 108 is the Town Hall (pic 2) is one of the oldest buildings in the city but also a beautiful one (in neoclassical style). It used to be the house of the rich merchant prince Makrygiannis (raisin merchant of course) at the end of 19th century but since 1897 it houses the Town Hall. The interior is decorated (from 1929) with some nice oil paintings made by the local painter Epaminodas Thomopoulos(1878-1976). So, the town hall is like the painter’s personal museum! You can see some of his paintings at the Municipal Picture Gallery too. At the corner, (if you turn to Pantanasis street at n.34) you can see where was the jewish synagogue (1945-1955).
The Municipal Library (pic 3) is located next to the Town Hall at number 110. It is one of the oldest libraries in Greece (open to the public since 1910) and it houses about 120,000 books and a huge number of other items like magazines, photos, historic documents, some of them written by Giannis Ritsos, Kostis Palamas (of course) etc The locals can borrow literature books. At the ground floor is located the Municipal Picture Gallery with more than 300 pieces. The library is open Tuesday to Saturday 10.00-13.00
The Court Hall (pic 4) is located at the intersection with Gounari Street. It was built in 1931 by Karathanasopulos and it supposed to be one of the architectural jewels of the city. The forefront of the building is nice with Doric columns and pediments. The 2008 earthquake caused serious damages but the local news write that the Court Hall is planned to be moved the next years in another area.
The Press Museum is located at a modern building (pic 5) that houses a local newspaper’s offices. It is open Monday to Friday 10.00-13.00 so I couldn’t go inside as it was Saturday but I’ve been told they have local newspapers since 1875, old local magazines, books and other documents from Peliponesse area. I guess all of that can be useful for a historical researcher. The main exhibit is the official document that the 3rd National Greek Congress sent to the first greek prime minister (Ioannis Kapodistrias) at 1827.
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
Agiou Nikolaou steps and church
Agiou Nikolaou street is probably one of the most famous street in Patra, it connects the Agios Nikolaos pier with the castle.
Near the seaside the street (which is the pedestrian part of the street) is full of cafes, always full of people, a nice spot for watching the people passing by. From that spot you can see that the street goes up the hill to the old Town (pic 2). So, if you have some time, you can walk up the street, at the intersection with Maizonos street is the Perivolaropoulos house, made by Tsiler in 1900. After a while you will reach the famous steps (pic 1) that lead to the old town, next to the castle. From the top of the steps you will have a nice view of the city and the sea in front of view (pic 3).
If you managed to go up here don’t forget to visit the Agios Nikolaos church(pic 4), a small but lovely church. I was there early on a Sunday morning and watched the morning mass for a while (pic 5)
- Hiking and Walking
- Religious Travel
Psila Alonia square
Psila Alonia means “high thresh” because the spot used to be a place of grinding. In our days it a big nice square that is called the balcony of Patras but the view (pic 1) isn’t that nice comparing the one at the castle of at the Dasilio café. But still you can enjoy a coffee at one of the numerous cafes. I preferred to check some of the monuments and continue my way. Here, you can see the fountain, some palm trees, the statue (pic 3) of Paleon Patron Germanos (the bishop of Patra during the revolution), a memorial plaque about locals that were executed by Nazis and the Sundial, a weird sun clock (pic 4)! I checked the shadow from many angles but at the end I checked my mobile to understand the time :)
There were many children play on the small playground and all the cafes full of local people (not so young though). There used to be many neoclassical buildings till mid 60s but now most of the building are big disappointment except the Tsiller’s mansion at Ernestrolle street (pic 5).
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