Aigio

The Town

Aigio is the second largest city of Achaia regarding the population. The city is built amphitheatrically in three levels.
In the lower city there is the seaside street of Aigio with the old raisin warehouses made of stone which have been converted into cafes and bars. In the lower city there is also the famous Plane-tree of Pausanias. Scientists estimate that this plane-tree is over 600 years old. The name of the tree is related with Pausanias, the Greek traveler and geographer, who travelled in this area during the 2nd century AD and described the 12 fountains which have been found around the tree.
If you want to visit the historical centre of Aigio you can follow the 172 stone stairs which start from the beach and end up to the upper town. These stairs are named “Stairs of Philopoemen”. The road that connects the upper and the lower town is named “Tempelorachi” by the locals.
The highest level of the city is the most picturesque and offers a panoramic view of the Corinthian Gulf. Here you will visit the square “Psila Alonia” which is surrounded by pine trees and in the center you will see a tower which is the landmark of the city. Near the square you could visit the church Agios Andreas with the impressive wood carved iconostasis. In addition near this area there is a park with a beautiful lake and the Monument of the Unknown Soldier.
In the centre of Aigio you will find the oldest square of the town “Agias Lavras square”. The squeare is the economic centre of Aigio and here you will also see some traditional houses.
The wider area of Aigio is called Aigialeia. Aigialeia includes Aigio, Diakofto, Loggos, Selianitika, Akrata and Aigira. This area has a lot of monasteries and historical churches and is ideal for religious travel. According to the sacred tradition the Evangelist Luck lived in Aigio, where he preached and painted images.

Sightseeing

The museums

In the Archaeological Museum of Aigio you can admire findings from the Neolithic Period until the Late Roman year. The building of the museum was built in 1890 by Ernst Chiller.
The mansion of Anastasios Lontos houses the Folklore Museum of the town. In the nine halls of the museum you will find historical and folklore material, like tools, guns, clothing and paintings from the Ottoman occupancy until the recent years.
The Ecclesiastical Museum of Aigio opened to the public in 1987. In the museum there is a big collection of images, manuscripts, sacred vessels and copes. In addition here is exhibited the wood carved iconostasis from the church Agios Nikolaos Vouron Aigialeias.
Near Meganiti River in the area Eptaniti you might like to visit the Hydro movement museum complex of Eptaniti. It reveals valuable information regarding the first industrial period in Greece. In the museum complex you will see a watermill, an oil press and a power plant. In addition you can get valuable information about the principles of the Greek diet which consists of water, bread and olive oil. It is situated in a beautiful location and is surrounded by maple trees, willow trees, eucalyptuses, orange and olive trees. Conducted tours in the facilities of the museum complex are arranged upon request.

Archaeological Sites

In the city of Aigio there was a sanctuary dedicated to Mithra. The location was found in 2001. The archaeological site is underground and the access to the site is done by a stone staircase of 8 steps.
In the location Kallithea above the church Zoodochou Pigis there are the remains of the vaulted graves which date back in the Mycenaean Period.
Further from Aigio, in Erineos village (11,5km away) there is the medieval castle of Salmenikou. It was built around 1300 during the Frankish occupancy. It is located above the Foinikas River on a steep rock which was the natural fortification of the castle. The castle was later occupied by the Ottomans. Today a few parts of the castle can still be seen at the top of the rock.
Ancient Ripiki was an ancient city that started from the west part of Aigio and extended up to Cape Drepano (25km away from Aigio). In this wide area there are three archaeological sites that are related with this ancient city. In Rakita village there is the archaeological site of Rakita where you could see the oldest example of a Greek temple with external colonnade. The ancient sanctuary dedicated to Aontia Artemis has in the centre this temple which dates back in the end of 8th century BC. In the archaeological site Graika (Agios Sostis location) there is another ancient temple and a part of the ancient road which led from Aigio to Rakita. In the archaeological site of Trapeza there was the most important and best-preserved monument of Ancient Ripiki. It is a Doric temple which was built during the 6th BC.

The churches

Above the harbor of Aigio on a hole of the rock you will see the church Panagia Tripiti also known as Zoodochos Pigi. It is dedicated to Virgin Mary. According to tradition the location of this church was chosen after a castaway found the image of the Virgin Mary in this spot. This image is considered miraculous and according to belief it was made by the Evangelist Luck.
The historical monastery of Taxiarchon was built on the mountain Klokos, about 15km away from Aigio, with 500 meters altitude. It was constructed initially in 1415 by Osios Leontios and probably took its final form in the end of 18th century. At the end of your visit in this historical and religious monument the monks will treat you with traditional sweets. Close to Selinounta River and about 7km away from the monastery of Taxiarchon you could also visit the byzantine church of Agios Nikolaos.

The nature

There are 3 areas that are protected by the Natura network, the Lagoon Aliki, the Vouraikos Gorge and the mountain Klokos. The lagoon Aliki is located northeast of Aigio. In this hydro biotope there are over 120 species of birds and many of them are considered rare.

The beach

One of the nearest beaches in Aigio is the Akoli beach in the Avithos settlement. It is a pebble beach with crystal clear water. The beach is organized with umbrellas, sun beds, beach volley facility and water sports.
About 2km east of Aigio there is Aliki beach, near the Aliki lagoon. It is organized with umbrellas, shower and a lifeguard. Across the beach you will find cafes which offer sun beds. This beach is ideal for surfing and kite surfing.
A little further from Aliki beach you will find Digeliotika beach. It is a popular pebble beach known for its crystal clear water. Across the long beach there are restaurants and taverns which offer umbrellas with sun beds.
Near Digeliotika beach, about 6km east of Aigio there is Balimitika beach. It is an organized pebble beach next to the homonym seaside settlement.
Between Aigio and Diakofto you will find the beautiful beach Nikoleika. Above the beach there cafes and restaurants and in the nearby area there is a karting track.
From the west side of Aigio you will find a popular pebble beach named Seliniatika beach. On the seaside street near the beach you will find plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars. In addition in the nearby settlement you will find hotels and rooms to let with sea view.
Close to Seliniatika beach there is Loggos beach. It is a small picturesque pebble beach surrounded by trees. Here you will find some popular beach bars. Around the homonym settlement you will find plenty of hotels, restaurants and cafes to spend your time.
While continuing towards the West, close to Loggos beach you will find the peaceful unorganized beaches Bouka, Akonia and Pefka. These beaches are surrounded by trees and are known for their deep crystal clear water.

History

Antiquity

Aigio is one of the oldest cities of Greece. Excavations took place in some parts of the modern city and revealed prehistoric findings from the Early Helladic Period (3000BC) and the Middle Helladic Period.
According to Greek mythology, the first inhabitants of the area were Aegialis Pelasgians. The founders of the first unified city were the Ionians. In the middle of the 16th century the Ionians came from Attica and were amicably unified with Aegialis Pelasgians. Ionians legalized their domination center in ancient Aigio.
During the Mycenaean period (1550-1060BC) Aigio was an important city as indicate the vaulted graves and the remains of the settlements around this area. In Homeric Poems Aigio is referred as one of the cities who gave ships to Agamemnon when he marched against Troy during the Trojan War. The sanctuary of Zeus in Aigio was an important meeting point, where the residents discussed over important issues of their city. The importance and the fame of the sanctuary resulted in the legend that Agamemnon along with the leaders of Achaeans gathered in this sanctuary and took important decisions about the Trojan War.
In 12th century BC the Achaeans relocated from Laconia to the northern part of Peloponnese. The Achaeans drove off the Ionians and settled in their area which was named Achaia during this period. Around 800BC 12 Achaean cities united and established the known Dodecapolis of the Achaean Confederacy. According to inscription, the Parliament of this 1st Achaean Confederacy operated in Aigio during 400BC. During the Peloponnesian War the Spartans established the oligarchic regime in this area in order to prevent it to join the Athenian Alliance. The regime was overthrown during the hegemony of Thebes in the area (367-364BC). This city, during its heyday, showed off many famous athletes in the Olympic Games especially in the competition of sling throwing. Many known Flute-playing girls originated from Aigio.
In Battle of Chaeronea (338BC) the cities of Achaea were on the side of the anti-Macedonian league and were defeated. In 330BC they rejoined the anti-Macedonian league and fought in the Battle of Megalopolis against Antigonus. They were defeated again and Antigonus thrashed the Confederacy and imposed strong Macedonian garrisons in every city, including Aigio.
In 320BC Aigio was occupied by Kassandros. Aristodimos, a general of Antigonus, fought Kassandros and drove off his garrison. Later a group of Etolians plundered the city, set it on fire and killed many residents. In 308BC the city was handed to Polisperchonta who named Stromvicho as garrison commander. Demetrius I of Macedon (known also as Poliorcetes) was the son of Antigonus and besieged the city of Aigio in 303BC. He won and crucified Stromvicho along with 80 men of his garrison in front of the gates of the city.
Since 303BC Aigio and the rest of the Achaean cities were in turmoil. Macedonians placed tyrants in every city and there were constant conflicts until 287BC, when the Achaean cities managed to prevail over the Macedonian garrison and drove them off. The cities created then the first core of the Achaean League which played an important part in the history of Peloponnese until the Roman conquest in 145BC. In 276BC Aigio joined the second Achaean League and became the religious and political centre of the League. The synod of the Achaean Alliance took place in Aigio in 209BC.

Roman and byzantine years

In 146BC Roman ambassadors came to Aigio in order to discuss about the Greek issues. After the Roman conquest of the Greece, the Romans destroyed the walls of the city but Aigio didn’t lose its status. Despite the dissolution of the Achaean Confederacy, the Romans allowed in Aigio gatherings of the representatives of the Achaean cities. In these gathering important decisions took place, like the elections of the generals. During the following years the rest of the Achaean cities and Korinthos were gradually declined and only Aigio developed and became the first trading harbor of Achaia. However after the reconstruction of Korinthos in 44BC and the occupation of Patra by Augustus in 30BC, Aigio was of secondary importance.
In 23BC the city suffered by a strong earthquake and the emperor Tiberius relieved the city from its obligations to the Roman Empire for 3 years. Pausanias visited the city during the 2nd century AD and found the city in flourishing condition.
During the byzantine period Aigio slid into obscurity. Barbarian hordes invaded at intervals in Greece and destroyed completely the city of Aigio. In the 3rd century AD Visigoths invaded Aigio and enslaved the residents. The emperor Theodosius (408-450AD) granted privileges to the city due to the disasters it had suffered. When Justinian I (527-565AD) was emperor of the Byzantine Empire Aigio was declined. Around 805AD Slavs invaded Aigio and changed the name of the city to Bostitsa.
After the Fall of Constantinople by the Franks (1204AD), William of Champlite and Geoffrey of Villehardouin decided to conquer Peloponnese (Morias). They arrived at Patra and conquered Bostitsa. William became the Prince of Achaia after the conquest of the largest part of Peloponnese. After his death, Geoffrey divided Peloponnese into 12 baronies and one of them was the Barony of Bostitsa. The baron of Bostitsa built a tower using materials from the ancient city. The remains of this tower are preserved today at the basements of the house of Athanasios Tsinoukas. In 1363 the Barony of Bostitsa was sold to Nerio Atzagioli and in 1381 the city was occupied by the Navarrese Company. In 1394 the city was given as dowry to Karolo Tocco, who was the governor of Cephalonia and Lefkada. In 1422 the city was handed to Theodoros Palaiologos who was the despot of Mystras.

Venetian occupancy – Ottoman occupancy

In 1458 the area was occupied by the Turks and in 1463 it was occupied by the Venetians (First Venetian Occupancy). In 1470 the city was occupied again by the Ottomans. During the Ottoman occupancy the city of Aigio played an important part regarding the conspiratorial movements and rebellions against the Ottomans before the Battleship of Nafpaktos in 1571.
In 1685 Venetians occupied Aigio along with the rest of Peloponnese. One of the most important features of this period is the establishment of local administration in the most important communities, including Bostitsa (Aigio). The communities were organized according to the Venetians standards and the city of Venice. The generalissimo Alexandro Molini approved the request of the residents of Bostitsa to establish a community of local administration. The request was approved due to two main reasons. The first reason was related with the fact that Bostitsa was a seaside location which attracted many residents of Athens and Salona to settle in this area which was then one of the most important in Peloponnese. The second reason was related with the separation of Bostitsa from the community of Kalavrita.
In 1718 the Treaty of Passarowitz was signed and the city of Aigio was handed again to the Ottomans. During “Orloffika” (1769-1770) in Aigio took place a conference where local officials decided the participation in the revolution and a military force marched against the Kalavrita.

The Greek War of Independence in 1821

In the end of January in 1821, in Aigio took place the known “secret meeting of Vostitsa”, where clerics and dignitaries of Peloponnese gathered in order to decide about the commencement of the war against the Ottomans in Peloponnese. Many of those who participated in this meeting expressed their concerns about this war while Papaflessas tried to persuade them about the readiness of the Greeks. The Voyvoda of Bostitsa (the Ottoman governor of the area), who was suspicious about the imminent rebellion, asked explanations about the necessity of this meeting. Greeks lied to Voyboda about the meeting and said that it was about an administrative issue regarding the lands of two important monasteries of the area. The assembly ended on 29th of January and the conclusion of the meeting was that Greeks needed urgently more money for their revolution. This meeting was of great historical importance regarding the Greek War of Independence and is considered as the first political action of the Greek revolution realization. In 21st of March in 1821, Aigio was the first liberated city after the outburst of the war.

Places to visit

About 15,5km away from Aigio you could visit the beautiful seaside town Diakofto (or Diakopto). Here is the beginning of the famous Odontotos railway which reaches Kalavrita after a charming tour with the train. The train passes through the marvelous Vouraikos Gorge which is a Natura area. In addition in Diakofto you could visit plenty of beautiful coasts with a magnificent view of the Corinthian Gulf.
Another excellent place to visit is the mountainous (950meters altitude) village Kalentzi. The main features of this picturesque village are the traditional stone houses, the taverns and the paved squares. In the village you could also visit the Folklore Museum. Kalentzi could also be a great starting point for tours in the nearby villages where you could visit beautiful monasteries. Also from Alepochori village you could visit the waterfalls of Terthea River.

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