THE COUNTY OF ACHAIA - PELOPONNESE GREECE
Located at the northern point of the Peloponnese is the prefecture of Achaia, named after the founders of the city, Achaians, who came and settled here after the decline of the Mycenaean centres. With the prefectures of Corinth, Ilias and Arcadia all bordering Archaia, it is where the city of Patra is located, which is the capital of the Peloponnese.
Patra is the largest of all towns in the Peloponnese and is also the second busiest port in Greece, after the port of Piraeus in Athens. As well as offering travelers the opportunity to travel to the famous Ionian Islands, it also offer routes to Italy.
Patra is also a popular transportation hub for mainland Greece with connections to all of the Peloponnese as well as other areas in mainland Greece. Visitors to Patra can enjoy some of the interesting museums and sights in the town, as well as it's parks and squares.
Patra aside, there are also several other towns in Archaia which are worth visiting, as well as several beautiful beaches and other places of interest.
One such place of interest is the Archaia Clauss Factory. Located approximately 7km southeast of Patra, this Bavarian-style castle is the headquarters of the oldest winery in Greece.
The factory was founded in 1861 by Gustav Clauss, and tours to the factory show you around the wine-making process, where you can also see the barrels of Mavrodhafni, a centuries old red wine that was named after the woman that Clauss wanted to marry. You will also have the opportunity to sample and purchase the wines made here.
The picturesque and historic town of Kalavryta is also one where you can visit. This mountainous village is one that holds a special significance for Greeks. It was near here that Archbishop Germanos called for the beginning of the War of Independence in 1821.
The monastery of Ayia Lavra was burnt down by the Nazis, and many of the inhabitants were martyred in 1943 on the suspicion of harboring resistance fighters. The monastery has since been rebuilt and also has a small historical museum.
One of the main attractions in Kalavryta is the narrow-gauge railway that runs to Diakofto on the Gulf of Corinth. This railway journey is one of the most spectacular in Greece, and offers beautiful scenes and imagery as it passes through various tunnels and narrow mountain gorges. At each of the two stations, you can see the original steam engines that originally made the journies.
There are several coasts along Archaia which are delightful for summer holidays, where you can enjoy the lovely beaches and crystal sea waters. The coastal village of Akrata is such a place, and was actually the site of ancient Aigai.
The area of Rio on the coast is transportation hub, connecting by car-ferry, the Peloponnese to Central Greece and Epios. The Peloponnese is also now connected with the new Rio bridge that opened in the summer of 2004.
There is also the ski centre of Helmos, which is located approximately 15km from Kalavryta. This is very popular during the winter seasons, and offers visitors the chance to participate in winter sports and activities, with the added bonus of being in a very beautiful and picturesque region of Greece.