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Kalavryta is the most popular winter destination in the Peloponnese and justly holds the reigns of tourist interest as it is the base for the second largest ski center in Greece and numerous important historical monuments.
Kalavrita is just 77km far from Patras and 200km far from Athens.
This historical town in the mountains of Achaia is built at the foot of Mount Chelmos, 750m above sea level. This beautiful mountain town is just half an hour far from the beautiful beaches of the Corinthian Gulf, combining holidays on the mountains and sea.
The ancient town of Kynaitha was built there and in the Middle Ages the many springs in the town gave it the name of Kala-vryta (good springs). It may be a small town, but has starred in important pages of Modern Greek history. On March 25, 1821 in the nearby monastery of Agia Lavra, the banner of the Revolution was raised starting the Greek war of Independence. During the Greek War of Independence of 1821 Kalavryta was burnt to the ground twice. However, the town suffered its worst tragedy during the German occupation, the holocaust of Kalavryta, when in 1943 all the men and boys over the age of 13 were executed by German troops. Today Kalavryta is a modern town with lots of tourist attractions.
This beautiful mountain town, located just half an hour from the beautiful beaches of the Corinthian Gulf and about 3 hours from Athens, gives visitors the opportunity to combine holidays on the mountains and sea.
This quaint train setting off from Diakofto to Kalavryta is the narrowest rack railway in Europe and the only one in Greece. It dates back to 1896, and was the work of the government of Charilaos Trikoupis, a pioneer idea at that time. Very close to Kalavryta there are two significant monasteries, that of Aghia Lavra and that of Mega Spilaio. The monastery of Aghia Lavra is located 7km far from the gateway of Kalavryta and dates back to the 10th century. The monastery of Mega Spilaio is 10km far from Kalavryta and it dates back to the 4th century and is considered to be one of the oldest monasteries in Greece. In the village of Kastria, 6km far from Kalavryta, there is the Cave of the Lakes, one of the largest and most significant caves in Greece. The cave is in fact the bed of a subterranean river holding water in 13 terraced lakes. Numerous stalactites and stalagmites in various shapes adorn the cave’s high roofs reaching heights of 30m.
At 4.5 km from the town of Kalavryta is the historic monastery of Agia Lavra. To the right of the main entrance of the monastery’s enclosure is the chapel where the revolution was declared and blessed by the Metropolitan of Paleon Patron Germanos during the feast of the Annunciation of 1821.
The banner that was raised today is kept perforated by bullets in the third monastery built after the revolution because the second one was burned by Ibrahim and only its katholikon was saved. And the third monastery was destroyed by earthquake, fires and by the Germans in 1943, but it was rebuilt.
The precious diamond-glued Gospel Gift of Catherine the Great, the vestments and the pastoral rod of Old Patron Germanos were also preserved.
The collection is complemented by many crosses of precious stones and other important objects of worship.
From the large collection of icons stands out the icon dated to 1600 of St. Panteleimon.
Every year, March 25, the festivities take place, the most important of which is the representation of the assembly of chieftains and the raising of the banner of the revolution.
Opening Hours of the Holy Monastery of Agia Lavra:
Winter Hours: Daily 10:00-13:00 & 15:00-16:00.
Summer Hours: Daily 10:00-13:00 &16:00-17:00.
Phone: 26920 22363.
At 10 km from the town of Kalavryta is the monastery of the Great Cave. In a wild and steep rock 120m high that on top of it there is an ancient tower nestled the Great Cave.
The façade of the cave is closed by cells. From the balcony the view is unique.
The monastery according to tradition was founded in 362 AD by the monks Simeon and Theodore in the place where the icon of the Virgin Mary was found in the background of the cave where the source exists. The icon was found by a shepherdess and is made of wax and mastic by The Evangelist Luke. In 840 the Great Cave was burned by iconoclasts. In 1285 Andronikos Palaiologos rebuilt it and since then it begins to become one of the richest monasteries. It was burned for the second time in 1400 and for the third time in 1600 whenever the church and the valuable library that had rare manuscripts were burned. For the fourth time it was burned in 1934 when all the relics of inestimable value were destroyed. It was rebuilt in 1936 but was burned and looted by the Germans in December 1943. The Germans executed the 22 monks and all the staff of the monastery and threw their bodies from a neighboring cliff. In the relic room of the monastery are kept great and unique relics. The monastery celebrates the fifteenth of August in memory of the Assumption.
Opening Hours of the Holy Monastery of Mega Spileo:
Daily: 08:00 until sunset.
Phone: 26920 23130
The Primary School of Kalavryta was built in the early 20th century, it began operating in 1906. It is a sample of a four-class school with neoclassical morphological elements and a specific typology. It was built according to the first state program for the construction of school buildings, which was formed by the law consultant of the Ministry of Education Dimitrios Kallias and was established by the Law of the Department of Education/1895.
From the first year it operated, had teachers for all classes and was equipped with supervisory means for the teaching of historical, linguistic, technical and practical courses.
During the Occupation it ceased its operation. It was used as a school only from September to December 1943. This was the shortest school year in his long-term contribution to education.
On December 13, 1943, it was burned to the ground by the fire caused by the German conquerors. After the liberation it was reconstructed according to its original plan. It reopened in 1955. In 1986 it was declared a historical preservable monument by the Ministry of Culture, and it was decided to house the Municipal Museum of the Kalavryta Holocaust.
The Primary School of Kalavryta was one of the most spacious public buildings of the city with a large courtyard. During the occupation from 1941 until the end of April 1943, it was requisitioned by the Italians and converted into a concentration camp for political prisoners in the Peloponnese. Five hundred Greeks and Greek women remained prisoners in this area. During their confinement they suffered many hardships, and some did not survive. In April 1943 the prisoners were transferred to other parts of the country and the concentration camp was closed. Then the building was used as a camping site of the Italian battalion of Kalavryta. After the capitulation of the Italians, on September 9, 1943, the Primary School reopened. On the evening of October 17, 1943, after the battle of RogonKerpini, the guerrillas led the German prisoners to the school grounds, who remained there for 24 hours. In the same place was written part of the drama of Kalavryta on December 13, 1943.Here gathered the inhabitants of the city from the Germans and was separated the male population and adolescents over 13 years old from women, children and the elderly. While the men were led to the hill of Kappis, young children, women and the elderly were kept inside the building, which was set on fire. Under the rule of panic the inmates breached the doors and fled.
The Municipal Museum today The Legal Entity under the name “MUNICIPAL MUSEUM OF KALAVRITINI HOLOCAUST” was founded in 1986 with the number G.G. A. 24908/4.8.1986 and is housed in the historic Primary School of the city. The purpose of this Legal Entity is the collection, recording and exhibition of all kinds of material that testifies to the history, folklore and tradition of Kalavryta, especially the history of the Holocaust of December 13, 1943, and the events that took place in the wider region. The project for the restoration of the Primary School and its conversion into a Museum of the Kalavrytan Holocaust was carried out according to the study of the architects Mary Koumantaropoulou and Antonis Manioudakis of the Directorate of Cultural Buildings and the Restoration of Modern Monuments of the Ministry of Culture. The budget of the project was 1,167,332.42 Euros and the contractor company was “Alexandros Techniki S.A.”. The project was co-funded by the European Union and was part of the Operational Programme “CULTURE” of the Community Support Framework 2000-2006. The Museum was inaugurated on January 9, 2005, by His Excellency the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Constantinos Stephanopoulos.
Municipal Museum of the Kalavryta Holocaust
The Odontotos railway is the work of CharilaosTrikoupis. About 113 years ago, the rack railway Diakopto-Kalavrita, starting from the coastal town of Diakopto and alongside the footsteps of the river, built bridges, punctured tunnels, threw “teeth” and managed to climb up to Kalavryta.
The contract for the construction of the line was signed in 1889 and its construction ended seven years later. The design of the line was made by French technicians.
The task was very difficult because of the inaccessibility of the terrain. On March 10, 1896, the train made its first service. Since then and until today, vouraikos river and Odontotos march together.
The train was so well integrated into the natural environment that it looks as if it was always there.
The way of its construction did not burden the ecosystem of the gorge. With the wood and the stone of the area, the technicians did for the sake of the train works that you think nature made by itself.
The route starts from Diakopto crosses the gorge of Vouraikos passes the village Zachlorou and ends in Kalavryta. The journey takes about 1 hour. Odontotos is not just the “train”.
The Vouraikos gorge and the rack railway Diakopto-Kalavrita are one of the most beautiful routes for every season.
- Website: Odontotos
The Cave of the Lakes is located on the road Kalavryta – Kleitoria at an altitude of 827 meters. It is 17 km from Kalavryta and 9 km from Kleitoria. The road passes just a few meters from the technical entrance of the cave and right next to the natural one. The cave of the lakes impresses the visitor even with its name. Lakes inside the cave are not something common either globally or for Greece, where it is a unique geological phenomenon.
From a hydrological point of view the cave can be divided into 3 sections: The first part is dry and has a length of 80m.
Approximately, its floor is horizontal covered by a thick layer of red earth. The second section has a length of 700m. With the main feature of successive lakes. The third and largest section is 50m long. The cave is a rare natural creation.
Apart from the labyrinthine corridorsand the wonderful stalactites, it has the unique privilege that does not exist in another cave. It is the successive tiered to three floors lakes that make it unique in the world. The explored length is 1980 m. The exploited part of the cave is currently 500 m. The visitor enters through an artificial tunnel and ends directly to the second floor.
This section is awe-inspiring and admiring. The crossing of the lakes is made by raised artificial bridges.
- Website: Cave of Lakes
- Phone: 26920 31001
One of the special monuments of the city and Holy Pilgrimage is the Place of Execution (hill of Kapi) located east of the town of Kalavryta (500 meters from the center), on the way to the Ski Center.
The men, 14 years old and over the German conquerors, were led to the Ridge of Kapi on December 13, 1943, where they were executed.
Today on the back of Kapis there is a large Cross reminiscent of the heinous crime.
In the columns surrounding the central space the names of the families of the Executed are written.
In the catacomb are hanging small candles equal to the families of those executed.
Next to the catacomb dominates the stone sculpture of the pained mother, emblem of the Municipality and symbol of human perseverance created by the then student at the School of Fine Arts Anna Vafeia.
It has a symbolic character for the female heroines of Kalavryta (the Mother, the sister, the grandmother, the daughter) who with great effort fought to rebuild the destroyed city.
Every year on December 13, after the memorial service in the cathedral of the city, the mournful procession ends at the Place of Sacrifice, where a memorial service and an invitation to the Fallen are held.