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ACHAIA

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General  Information

Though Achaia is located on the northwestern corner of the Peloponnese, many regard it as the center of its activity. This is mainly due to the city of Patra, the largest in the Peloponnese and the third in size in all of Greece, the only city with all the characteristics of a true urban center in the broader region. The tourism infrastructure of the prefecture is well organized as, in addition to its multiple accessibility ?via air, sea, bus, train, or car-   it has also accomplished to provide all-season hospitality, offering tourist services of the highest quality in winter as well as in the summer. The unrivalled beauty of the seaside villages of Achaia, the beaches of Kalogria and Gianniskari, the unique forest with the magic sand, the pebbled coastlines of Akrata and Aegira, the majestic route to the Kalavryta - the route with the cog railway is, to say the least, amusing- and Halandritsa, the imposing Mount Helmos with the skiing center, the lake Tsivlou, the cave of Kastries, the Mounts Panahaiko and Erymanthos, compose a strong assortment of attractions which lure visitors all year round. Its population exceeds 300000 residents, while its extent covers 3.275 sq.km.

 

History - Culture

As is the case with every region of this land, Achaia has been inhabited since the dawn of mankind, deep into the Paleolithic age. Excavations on the northwest of the region, close to river Araxos, have unearthed findings of this period. Of the most recent wave of known Greek tribes, it seems that the Ionians were its first major settlers, pushing away the Pelasgians, one of the most ancient Greek peoples. As the Mycenaean age reached its end and the warlike Dorian tribe was forcing its way south, sometime around 1100 BC, Achaeans from different parts of Argolida and the rest of the Peloponnese found refuge here. They established 12 major cities -Patra and Aegio being among them- while the Ionians moved off to the coast of Asia Minor, today known as Ionia. Despite the fact that the Achaeans participated in the establishment of colonies in south Italy (700 BC), they did not take part in extensive military operations. One of the most important moments in the history of Achaia was the foundation of the Achaean Confederation (280 BC), a strong power that came as an answer to the establishment of Macedonian guards. Alas, the confederation was eventually resolved and Achaia came under Roman rule in 146 BC. However, linguists make reference to the Achaean dialect, which prevailed during the time of the Achaean Confederation spreading beyond the borders of the Peloponnese. During the Roman ages, the idea of Christianity was disseminated, and the martyrdom of Saint Andreas in Patra in 68 AD was a landmark. Achaia, being a fertile land, was quick to attract the attention of barbarians, whose frequent raids, devastated the region. In 1205 it came under the domination of Franks. Following the fall of Constantinople, the region came under Turkish rule (1460), which lasted -except for a small period of Venetian occupation from 1687 to 1715- until the uprising of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. Achaia played a major part, and the banner of the Revolution was raised at the noted Monastery of Aghia Lavra in the area of Kalavryta. In 1828, French forces, aiding the struggling revolutionaries, liberated Patra, signifying the end of the Turkish yoke and the re-establishment of the country of Greece.

 

Sights

As mentioned above, there are numerous sights to satisfy all interests. When it comes to nature, there are more enchanting mountainous and dazzling seaside landscapes than could possibly be described. When it comes to the works of man, there is no period of history that is not proudly represented by a number of spectacular monuments. Achaia is abound in old monasteries and churches, which are scattered along the charming mountains and the seaside villages, surrounded by landscapes of amazing beauty. Monuments of great historical importance are everywhere, such as in Patra ?its Roman Odeon of 160 AD being impressively well-preserved- while its medieval castle still stands watchfully over the city. In Aegio, there are ancient structures of the classical period and tombs dating back to the Mycenaean era. Ancient Eliki is situated 9km southeast of Aegio. In the area of Kalavryta, the Vouraikos Gorge should definitely be visited, as should the old traditional railroad, which runs a dreamy course from Diakofto to Kalavryta through Vouraikos. The historical Monasteries of Aghia Lavra and Mega Spileo are only 6km away from Kalavryta, while the amazing Cave of the Lakes is close to Kleitoria, just a few minutes? ride further south. All in all, Achaia is an experience, not a visit.

 

Entertainment-Sport-Shopping

A fully developed region that offers everything a visitor might ask for, Achaia stands up to the highest standards of tourist services. The accommodation facilities in Patra, Aegio, and Kalavryta are of top quality, while smaller towns can also perfectly accommodate a large number of visitors. The markets throughout the prefecture offer highly specialized services, while the greatest variety of goods can be found in the urban centers. We should not fail to mention that sweets, fruit and wine are considered to be best buys in the region. There are multiple entertainment alternatives almost everywhere, with restaurants, taverns, coffee shops, cinemas, bars and vivid night life being at the disposal of visitors. As for sports, there are first rate swimming pools, yachting clubs and water sports facilities, along with basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts, football fields, all to be found in most areas of the prefecture. Water sports facilities are available in almost every organized beach of Achaia.

 

Access

There is a daily bus service to Patra, Aegio and Kalavryta from Athens. By rail, there are frequent itineraries from Athens-Piraeus to Patra.

 

Connections

There is a bus connection with Patra, Athens, Thessaloniki, Pyrgos, Kalamata, Tripoli, Messologi, Agrinio. Ferries link Patra, the Ionian Islands, Igoumenitsa (Epirus) and Italy (Bari, Ancona, Brundisi). Flights are carried out from the airport of Araxos to Thessaloniki. There is a frequent ferry boat service from Rio to Antirrion (Continental Greece), and from Aegio to Aghios Nikolaos in Fokida (Continental Greece).

 

Museums

In Patra, there is an Archaeological Museum with interesting findings originating from the excavations realized in the area. There is also the Centre for Speech and Art where the Press Museum and the Ethnologic Museum are housed.

 

Alternative Tourism

Archaeology, ecotourism, educational, cultural, canyoning, sporting (trekking, mountain climbing, water sports, sailing, yachting, scuba diving, windsurfing).

 

 

Useful Telephone Numbers:

PATRA AREA CODE:  2610-

POLICE STATION: 2610-420716

TOURIST POLICE: 2610-695190

MUNICIPALITY: 2610-966200

PORT POLICE: 2610-341002

BUS STATION: 2610-623881

POST OFFICE: 2610-277050, 620644

 

AEGIO AREA CODE:  26910-

POLICE STATION: 26910-22100

MUNICIPALITY: 26910-24703

PORT POLICE: 26910-28888

DIAKOPTO RAILWAY STATION: 26910-43206

                                   

 

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