Pirgos is the largest city and the capital of Elias County. Around the central paved square of the city you will find important monuments, like the beautiful building of the Agora. The city of Pirgos is known for its cultural history as you might figure from the theatrical events of the city and the well known cinema festival which attracts many visitors at the city.
The harbor of Pirgos is the famous summer destination Katakolo and is only 5km away. More than 1 million visitors travel to this small fishing village which serves around 430 cruises every year. In Katakolo you could visit the beautiful coasts of the Ionian Sea and some interesting museums like the Museum of Greek Technology and the Museum of Ancient Music Instruments.
The wider area is known for its endless sandy beaches and some world famous archaeological sites like the Ancient Olympia, Ancient Elias and the Temple of Apollo Epicurius.
The city was established by a villager named George Tsorotas during the 16th century. He was digging in the area in order to find water for his livestock until he found an ancient treasure which he gave to the sultan. George Tsorotas was anointed lord of the area and he was given many tracts of land in return. He also built a tower in 1512 in order to supervise his lands. The name of the city was taken by this tower as “pirgos” means tower in Greek.
During the Venetian occupancy, the town was the intermediate station of the merchants who travelled toward Zakinthos. When the city was under the Ottoman occupancy, the Ottomans used some of the residents as interpreters. Their presence was important for the economical activities of the Ottomans and as a result the town of Pirgos had earned some important tax privileges compared to other places.
The contribution of Pirgos during the Greek War of Independence in 1821 was crucial. The city was well prepared for the revolution; however it suffered a big destruction in November of 1825. After the end of the revolution, the population was significantly decreased and a large percentage came from islands. The general picture of the city was horrible due to the demolished buildings.
The city of Pirgos was developed especially during the 19th and the 20th century especially because of the raising cultivation and exportation. Katakolo, the harbor of the city, was connected with Pirgos by a railway and Katakolo gradually became an exportation centre of the Corinthian raisin and the local wines. During this period many mansions and public building were built, some of them still decorate the city.
Today Pirgos remains an important trading and economical centre of the Elias County. The raisin production and exportation still remains an important economic activity here along with the cultivation of land and the processing of agricultural products, like tomatoes, potatoes, olives and citrus products.
The building of the Agora is the most beautiful building in the city today and can be found close to the central square of Pirgos. Initially the Agora (Market) was made of wood but in 1889 the mayor of the town ordered the construction of stone buildings at the same place. The project was taken over by the known German architect Ernest Chiller. Today after a renovation, the place operates as the Archaeological Museum of the town.
In the area of Pirgos you could visit some important temples, like Agios Charalampos church which was build during the Ottoman occupancy. Agios Charalampos is the patron saint of the city that according to the tradition saved the city from the danger of the plague. Another notable temple is Agia Kiriaki church which is Gothic style and is the oldest church of the area. Agios Athanasios church was built by the known architect Ernest Chiller at one of the seven hills of the area. Inside the church there is the miraculous image of the Mother of our Lord. The metropolitan church of Pirgos is Agios Nikolaos. The church was destructed in multiple occasions and was reconstructed around 1904.
Outside Pirgos there are two of the most important pilgrimages of the area. “Panagia Skafidia” is a nunnery which can be found 10km east of Pirgos and dates back to the 10th AD. The second important nunnery is called “Moni Fragopidimatos” and is located 12km away from Pirgos. According to the tradition, a Franc lived at the area and was chased at some point by some pirates. As soon as he realized the danger he rode his horse and tried to escape. He vowed to Saint Nikolas that if he was finally saved he would donate his lands. According to tradition, he did escaped and the monastery which was built in the area is dedicated to St. Nikolaos.
Ancient Olympia will be the highlight of your trip! Here was the place where the Ancient Olympic Games took place every four years. The importance of the games was so big that even the wars stopped during that time. Today in the archaeological site you will find the stadium, the remains of the temples of Zeus and Hera and the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Olympia.
Ancient Elias was the town which hosted the Olympic Games during the Antiquity. The archaeological site includes the ancient agora, the theater, the settlement, the acropolis and the graveyards. Close to the sight there is the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Elias with findings from the ancient city.
The Temple of Apollo Epicurius was built around 430-410BC by the architect of Parthenon, Iktinos. It was one of the most important ancient temples wand was dedicated to the Greek God Apollo who, according the myths, helped the residents to get over the plague which threatened the area. Grab the opportunity to visit this beautiful monument which is one the best preserved buildings from the classic antiquity.
Pirgos is an ideal starting point for some of the most beautiful beaches of the west Peloponnese. Kourouta is a close summer destination with a charming sandy beach. Every summer many travelers visit this beach to enjoy the amazing sunset and the nightlife.
Only 13km away from Pirgos you will find Agios Andreas which is combines the sandy coast with rocks at the edge of the beach. The small beach is organized with some seaside cafes and restaurants.
Arkoudi is one of a kind summer destination close to Pirgos. The golden sandy beach, the crystal clear water and the colorful houses of the settlement charm every visitor. Close to Arkoudi there is the beautiful and peaceful Glifa beach.
Samiko beach is an endless sandy beach close to an overgrown pine forest. In some parts of the beach there are beach bars with sun beds and umbrellas.
South of Pirgos, don’t miss the opportunity to visit some well known beaches like Kaiafas and Zacharo. Close to the sandy Kaiafas beach there are the known thermal baths of Kaiafas which are open to visitors and are ideal for those who suffer from rheumatic diseases. Zacharo beach is a popular sandy beach with multiple activities and water sports that visitors could enjoy.