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Symbols of Culture and Religion on the Trail of the Faithful in Achaia

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Kalavryta, Achaia. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Stelios Stefanou)

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

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

RELISH PAST AND PRESENT IN ACHAIA

The diverse and interesting sights of historical value in Achaia require time to be properly appreciated. Indeed, one of the most important cities, Ancient Aigeira, is still being excavated. In ancient Kerynia near Diakopto, a memorial to heroes of antiquity forms the centerpiece of the site. Ancient Eliki fell prey to a powerful earthquake in the 4th century BC and fishermen over the years have reeled in the visitor with tales of sunken ruins in the depths of the Corinthian Gulf - their very own ‘Atlantis’ in fact!

In Rio, visitors find the triangular construction of its Fortress is impressive while in the Castle of Patras, travelers should seek out ‘Patrinela’, the mythical female figure, protector of the city. Other essential visits are the Archaeological Museums of Aigio and Patras as well as the Roman Odeon of Patras during its International Festival, which together with the Film Festival of Patras constitutes cultural forum with international appeal, showcase quality music and film.

The Carnival of Patras, the biggest in Greece, is the crowning moment in a whole year of scintillating entertainment, when everyone conjures up costumes of vivid colors and imagination with the express aim of having fun! Do not leave Patras before you have lived the unique experience of a walk along the Rio-Antirio bridge, the longest suspension bridge in Europe, some say the world, depending on the perspective. Either way, you’re not likely to forget it in a hurry!

SEEK OUT THE SYMBOLS OF CHRISTIAN FAITH IN WESTERN GREECE

Churches and monasteries in Achaia reflect the religious faith of the Orthodox Greeks, transfixing both the casual visitor and the student of their history. Dedicated to St Andrew, the patron saint of Patras, the two churches, Palaios and Neos –  meaning old and new – proudly stand in the city. The Church of the Virgin Mary, Pantanassa, is an also 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 Spilio is overwhelming. Perched 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 Palea Patras.

Looking almost unreal from a distance, Panagia Trypiti in Aigio took its name from the cave, literally the hole – as the Greeks say Trypa – in the rock where it was built.