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Travel

Achaia: The Symbols of Culture & Religion: On the Trail of the Faithful

Places of worship and a flourishing historical and cultural tradition have memorable experiences in store for the visitor to Achaia.

For those whose holidays do not start and finish on the beach, Achaia promises unique experiences. Every route through the lush, natural environment of Western Greece is adorned with a piece of the culture’s vast and timeless mosaic made up of religious beacons for the faithful and landmarks that reflect the vibrancy of the modern era.

Relish Past and Present in Achaia

The diverse and interesting historical sights of Achaia require time to be properly appreciated. Indeed, one of the most important cities in the region, Ancient Aigeira, is still being excavated. In ancient Kyrenia near Diakopto, a memorial dedicated to the heroes of antiquity is the centerpiece of the area. Ancient Eliki fell prey to a powerful earthquake in the 4th century BC and fishermen over the years have reeled in their visitors with tales of sunken ruins in the depths of the Corinthian Gulf; their very own Atlantis as they call it! In Rio, the triangular construction of its Fortress is impressive while at the Castle of Patras visitors seek out the ‘Patrinela’ statue, which, according to legend, is a female figure (posing as a man) that protected the city during the years of the Turkish occupation. Other must-go-to places include the archaeological museums of Aigio and Patras as well as the Roman Odeon of Patras. The Roman Odeon serves as the main venue for the annual Patras International Festival, which, together with the Film Festival of Patras, have major international appeal showcasing excellent music and films.

Although it was cancelled this year, the Carnival of Patras, the biggest in Greece, is usually the crowning moment in a whole year of scintillating entertainment, when everyone conjures up costumes of vivid colors and imagination with the express goal of having fun! Visitors of Patras must also experience walking along the Bridge of Rio-Antirrio, the longest suspension bridge in Europe.

Seek Out the Symbols of Christian Faith in Western Greece

Churches and monasteries in Achaia reflect the religious faith of the Orthodox Greeks, moving both the casual visitor and the student of their history. Dedicated to St. Andrew, the patron saint of Patras, the two sites, the churches Palaios and Neos (‘old’ and ‘new’) Agios Andreas proudly stand in the city. The Church of the Virgin Mary, Pantanassa, also has an imposing presence in the historic center of the capital of Achaia.

The sense of reverence and awe at the site of the Holy Monastery of Mega Spilaio is overwhelming. Residing under the protective shadow of a steep cliff, this particular monastery represents the most sacred pilgrimage in all of the Peloponnese. Forever identified with the beginning of the Greek Revolution of 1821, the Holy Monastery of Agia Lavra in Kalavrita is where the banner of the resistance was raised by Germanos, the Bishop of Palaia Patras. Another sacred shrine of the Theotokos, looking almost unreal from a distance, Panagia Trypiti in Aigio, took its name from the cave, literally the ‘hole’ – or as the Greeks say ‘Tripa’ – in the rock where it was built.

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