If you haven’t explored Aigio and Patras and the surrounding area in Greece’s East Achaia, it’s worth going. Aigio and Patras may not be every tourist’s bucket list but they are rich in Greek history. Greek history is rich and deep and its important to remember its past even though we are looking at it in the modern era.
Everywhere in Greece is steeped in prehistory and ancient history, so if you’re a historian, there’s much to take in regardless of where you go. The country constantly educates me on her beauty and diversity. On this particular trip, we headed into the region of East Achaia via the Corinth Canal.
Aigio & Patras and Beyond: Deeply Rooted History
The road from Athens is superb now, a modern motorway that is easy to access from the international airport, or if one desires there is now the railway to Aigio which is the region’s second largest town after Patras. Patras, away to the west, is the third largest city of Greece after Athens and Thessaloniki.
However, we are talking about a sleepier calmer place with lovely beaches, museums, churches, vineyard nearby, and a mountain village to investigate up a rack railway. Aigio made its fortune in the ancient past on being the centre of the Achaean League and according to Pausanias the place where Greek generals gathered and decided the Trojan War! Homer speaks of it in 800 BCE.
In the 19th and 20th centuries it was wealthy because it relied upon raisins…yes that is right raisins and currants which were used in baking and confectionery in the West. That zenith has passed but now there remains an elegant town with good restaurants, a fine harbour and many smaller towns with great beaches and a relaxed lifestyle nearby. There is a very fine old cathedral and the Old Market building which houses the modern archaeological museum now.
We however stayed in Selionitika which is 7 kilometers further on from Aigio; blue calm sea, enchanting scenery, mountains on the horizon, tavernas down by the beach and a splendid sunrise to behold each morning; we stayed in The Harmony Apartments with lovely swimming pool and kindly host for whom nothing was too much trouble. Eleonas too is a lovely small fishing village close to Diakopto and the Dimitropoulos Apartments are spacious with lovely restaurant and keen host, and the sea right next to the terrace.
We then enjoyed The Rack Railway which starts from Diakopto’s railway station – a small town south of Aigio and Selionitika. Odontotos, the Rack Railway was started about 120 years ago. The little train passes through the Gorge of Vouraiko, travelling a distance of 22,350 meters in 60 minutes.
This is a delightful short ride showing a gorge one would not normally see. The Diakopto–Kalavryta Railway is a historic 750 meter gauge rack railway. It climbs from sea level to 720 meters in 22.3 kilometers with a maximum gradient of 17.5%.
It runs from Diakopto through the Vouraikos Gorge and the old Mega Spilaion Monastery and up to Kalavryta, stopping en route at Zachlorou. We so enjoyed our morning at Kalavryta which is quite high up and built on the site of the ancient Arcadian city Kynetha; beautiful great trees and elegant shops and cafes and squares make it a lovely cool destination. The museum however tells the sad story of great World War 2 war time tragedy of which the town is ever mindful, and we paid our respects.
Check out my gallery of the visit.
We returned down in the little train and had a wondrous lunch in Diakopto at a splendid taverna – the sort that the patron Kostos invites you into his kitchen to see the dishes of the day. I should add that we visited the Tetramythos Winery which was very interesting too and had delicious wine, so if you’re a wine lover, you should add it to your list. Most people would want to concentrate on the sand or pebble beach, sunshine, swimming in calm shallow water and local good food in the tavernas literally situated on the various beaches – we were very happy doing the same thing!
Before heading out, we took the detour to visit Ancient Corinth which was very interesting and historically rich. St. Paul spoke to the Corinthians from this very spot!