ACHAIA - DIVERSE LAND
Achaia is a prefecture that is the western gateway of Greece to Europe offering easy access to the most important archaeological sites in the country. The capital of the prefecture is Patras, which is characterized as the main shipping port of the country to western Europe. It combines natural beauty and cultural development while highlighting the historical heritage and modern culture. About 125 km of the perimeter of the prefecture are bathed by the sea and there are beaches that are suitable for both swimming and activities. Patras is called the Gateway of Greece to the West, as it is an international trade center, a large port and a hub for trade and communication with Italy and the European West. The state-of-the-art Rio-Antirrio bridge connects the suburb of Patras Rio with Antirrio, connecting the Peloponnese with Central Greece. Symbol and trademark is its Lighthouse, the first and "authentic" entirely made of stone which was demolished and built similarly at the beginning of Trion Navarchon Street.
The castle of Patras at the foot of Mount Panacheikos was built to protect the area and its inhabitants. The Baths-Hamam were of particular importance and are among the oldest surviving, in use, thermal baths in Europe. The Roman Conservatory, which is considered older than the Herodion of Athens, was a continuation of the market and housed the imposing statue of Apollo, with a capacity of 2,300 spectators. The castle of Rio or Moria is located in the Municipality of Rio, to its right and left are the ferry piers and next to it passes the bridge Rio - Antirio. The House of Kostis Palamas is a listed building that adorns the city center, where he and the Italian novelist Mathilde Serao were born. The Municipal Library has 120,000 books, magazines, historical documents, a photographic archive, valuable documents and books of great personalities. The patron saint of Patras is Agios Andreas to which one of the largest churches in the Balkans is dedicated.
Pyrgos is the first Greek winery to produce some of the most famous Greek wines. The environment, the historic buildings and the wood-carved barrels of aging of the famous Mavrodafni are admirable. The new Archaeological Museum is the second largest museum in Greece that is considered the cradle of culture for the whole of Achaia with the characteristic metal dome. The Patras Carnival is the largest carnival event in Greece and has 160 years of history. The official start is on January 17 until Shrove Monday, culminating in the spectacular carnival parade, the second Sunday of carnival where the streets are flooded with chariots and carnival goers. Aliki Wetland is a lagoon designated as a Natura area, and is home to more than 120 species of birds, many of which are rare.
Aigio stands out with the characteristic coastal road, the impressive, old stone raisin warehouses at its eastern entrance built on three levels. The square of Ypsilon Alonia with the tower in the center surrounded by palm trees is the trademark. The church of Agios Andreas, with its impressive wood-carved iconostasis, the park with the lake and the Monument of the Unknown Soldier compose one of the most picturesque places in the area. Neoclassical mansions dominate every street in the city that houses restaurants and leisure businesses. The Archaeological Museum, created by Ernst Ziller, presents findings from the Neolithic to the late Roman years. The folklore museum is also important, in the halls of which there are historical and folklore exhibits from the Turkish occupation such as weapons, costumes, embroidery, paintings and tools. The stairs of Philopimenos stand out, which consist of 172 stone steps, also known as "steps", which connect the lower with the upper city. Panagia Tripiti built in a hole above the port is the patron saint of the city. The image is considered miraculous, which is why it attracts a large number of people. Also known as Tempelorachi is a stepped road that leads to the stairs of Philopimenos and Platanos of Pausanias, 600 years old.
Kalavrita is a town in mountainous Achaia which is a tourist destination all year round. Odontotos is the historic train that is famous for "one of the most beautiful railway routes in Greece''. It has been characterized as the most spectacular railway line in the Balkans. It crosses the spectacular gorge of Vouraikos also known as the "gorge of Odontotos'', and ends at Diakofto. The hiking trail that follows the train tracks and the river is easy, although great for novice hikers. It takes six hours to cross the whole, from Kalavrita to Diakofto. The Cave of the Lakes with its thirteen natural lakes on three floors is a unique attraction. The forest with the age-old plane trees and the springs on the Planetero make it look as magical as the mountain paths to Elatophyto, Mazi, Durduvana, Lousous and Kalavrita. The area is located within the Natura 2000 area "Mount Helmos and Stygos waters''.
Stygos Waters are located in Neraidorachi of Mount Helmos and at an altitude of 2,100m. where an impressive waterfall is formed by the fall of water from about 200 m. and flows into the river Krathi. A point of great beauty is the lake Tsivlou in the forest, a few kilometers before Peristera. The monastery of Agia Lavra is the cradle of national polygenesis and is one of the oldest monasteries. There is the first flag of the Greek nation, the banner of the Revolution. The ski center of Kalavrita is located at a distance of about 15 km from the city at an altitude of 1700 m. It has modern facilities with 8 lifts and 13 slopes of all categories. It is one of the most organized ski resorts in the country, with thousands of visitors every year. It has ample parking spaces, a first aid station, two chalets, an equipment rental shop and two ski schools. Of particular interest is the large wooden, Finnish chalet of 1,200 sq.m.
Zachlorou is a traditional settlement, built at an altitude of 640 meters, in the separate Vouraikos Gorge and is also offered as a base for excursions. In the glorious past, it had a thousand families, while the inhabitants took the lead in the Revolution of 1821. The two towers of Fotila and Charalambis that are preserved in the village confirm this. From the railway station starts a path that connects Zachlorou with the Mega Spilaio. Crossing the impressive metal bridge, it is the station of the village and one of the stops of Odontotos with a cinematic setting. This landscape did not leave unmoved directors of earlier times as scenes from the movies "The Shepherdess Beloved", "Golfo" and "Astero" have been shot there.
The village of Katarraktis is crossed by the river Peiros and at some point in the village it forms a large waterfall 110 meters high with caves and dense vegetation to which it owes its name. Ano & Kato Vlasia are two small mountain villages amphitheatrically built on the slopes of the fir forest of Mount Erymanthos. The natural beauties of the area create unique conditions for mountaineering and hiking while it is worth noting that it is located on the National Trail 31 that connects Patras with ancient Olympia. Tsapournia and Micha are two villages at an altitude of about 1,000m. An ideal base for climbing Erymanthos and an attraction for thousands of tourists and mountaineering clubs. They are built in a dense fir forest and the area has been designated as a Natura protected area and is suitable for hiking and mountaineering as it is located very close to Olenos and the Big and Small Mougila.
Diakopto is a beautiful town where you can combine the mountain with the beautiful beaches. An important attraction is the port where there are many fishing boats where the church of Agios Nikolas by the sea is located. From Diakofto starts the well-known cog railway that reaches Kalavrita and at the station is the old cogwheel locomotive. It has three beaches with the most famous of Engali, which is the most popular and organized thanks to the many beach bars it has. There are two other calm unorganized beaches with fine pebbles and blue waters, which are the right choice for those who want moments of relaxation away from the crowds.
The prefecture of Achaia, has large coastlines with beautiful beaches and has become a popular summer destination. One of the most popular beaches, Kalogria is a sandy beach with clear, warm waters. The pine forest of Strofilia reaches to the sand while it is also offered for water sports. Gianiskari is a sandy beach with waters that gradually deepen that has retained its natural beauty, due to the cold and deep waters a few kilometers outside Rio, with its picturesque harbor and fish taverns that offer local flavors. Akoli beach (Avythos) got its name from the very deep waters of the bay. The large beach consists of pebbles and a pedestrian street with shops. Akoli is ideal for those who love kitesurfing. A pole of attraction is the beach of Rodini where the tamarisk trees around the beach offer natural shade, while the sunset moment is ideal. Drepano beach, with its magnificent lighthouse that has adorned it since 1880 is ideal for lovers of water sports. The beaches of Panagopoula are small clean pebble beaches, surrounded by pine trees to the sea.
Pure and rich dairy products are prepared in the prefecture such as yogurt, formaela, anthotyro, gruyere, kefalotyri with the crown of all of them the feta of Kalavrita. Local meats are cooked or cooked with local recipes such as rooster spaghetti, lamb or goat in the hull, rabbit stew, beef juvette, goat, boiled, soups, yulpasi, fried sausages. The fish of Papa and Prokopou lagoons are also delicious. Traditional pasta, trachanas and toutoumakia (noodles) etc., are cooked in various ways. The sweets include galaktoboureko, baklava and other syrups as well as donuts. A trademark is the Patrina loukoumia, an integral part of the Achaean tradition. Famous and special product is the tendura, a traditional liqueur dating from the 15th century. and is based on an old Italian recipe, It has a brown color, which is due to the extract of various spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg) and other aromatic substances. In the mountains there is honey, walnuts, cherries, mountain tea, chamomile and oregano. The "black currant" of Achaia and the "bostitsa" of Egialia are the most well-known varieties of a natural product, known for its effectiveness since ancient times.