KALAVRYTA DAY TOUR
Kalavryta with Rack Railway Train from Diakopto ( Full Day Tour - max 10 hours)
Kalavryta tour departs in the morning from Athens ( request another terminal) heading to Diakopto ( Sort stop, if weather permits visit the beach time for swimming), where we will take the train on a rack railway to Kalavrita. Going through Vouraikos Canyon, we will admire one of the most beautiful natural sights in Greece (Kalavryta is the terminal of the Diakopto-Kalavryta rack railway, built by Italian engineers between 1885 and 1895.). Arriving to Kalavryta, we visit the famous Monastery of Agia Lavra, described as the symbolic birth-place of modern Greece.
Diakopto is a town and a former municipality in Achaea, West Greece. The town of Diakopto is situated on the Gulf of Corinth, near the mouth of the Vouraikos river and at the lower end of the Vouraikos Gorge. The 750 mm (2 ft 5 1⁄2 in) gauge Diakofto–Kalavryta Railway built in 1885 leads up to the town of Kalavryta passing the Mega Spilaio Monastery at about halfway. In the area there were three ancient Greek cities: Boura, Helike and Keryneia.
Kalavryta It is a beautiful little historical town, very important for the history of modern Greece, known for its contribution to the Greek revolution against the Turks as well as for the resistance during World War II, when the Germans burnt down the town and on the 13th of December 1943 they executed all 1,200 men aged 12 and over. A little further from the village of Kalavryta is the monastery of Agia Lavra where the first flag of freedom was raised by Bishop Germanos of Patras when the Greeks rebelled against the Turks on March, 21 of 1821.
Kalavryta (Καλάβρυτα) is a town and a municipality in the mountainous north-central Peloponnese part of Greece. The town is located on the right bank of the river Vouraikos, 24 kilometres (15 miles) south of Aigio, 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Patras and 62 km (39 miles) northwest of Tripoli. Notable mountains are Mount Erymanthos in the west and Aroania or Chelmos in the southeast.
History: During the late Middle Ages, the town was the center of the Barony of Kalavryta within the Frankish Principality of Achaea, until it was reconquered by the Byzantines in the 1270s. After that it remained under Byzantine control until the fall of the Despotate of the Morea to the Ottoman Turks in 1460. With the exception of a 30-year interlude of Venetian control, the town remained under Turkish rule until the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, in whose early stages Kalavryta figures prominently: it was here that on 21 March 1821 the flag of the revolt was raised at the monastery of Agia Lavra by bishop Germanos III of Old Patras.
At the end of 1943, near Kalavryta, 81 German soldiers, led by Hauptmann Johannes Schober, were captured by Greek Partisans. Four Germans were killed on the spot.Three were taken to hospital at Kalavryta but were later shot by the furious partisans.The rest were initially treated as prisoners of war, until most were shot dead and some plunged over the cliff near Mazi from the force of the shots. Two German prisoners survived the execution and raised the alarm on the following day 8 December 1943. On 13 December 1943, in retribution for the killing of the captured German soldiers, what is commemorated as the Massacre of Kalavryta, German troops ordered all male residents of Kalavryta, aged 12 years and up, to gather in a field just outside the village. There, they machine-gunned down 696 of them. Only 13 survived. After that they burnt down the town before they left and the next day they burnt down the Monastery of Agia Lavra, birthplace of the Greek War of Independence.
Post-war, the federal Government of Germany offered gestures of atonement in the form of free school books for the high school, scholarships for orphans of the massacre and the building of a retirement home. However, no German commanders, (e.g. Major Ebersberger who carried out the destruction of Kalavryta; Hauptmann Dohnert who led the firing party), were ever brought to justice for their crimes.
Agia Lavra is a monastery near Kalavryta/ Greece. It was built in 961 AD, on Chelmos Mountain, at an altitude of 961 meters, and can be described as the symbolic birthplace of modern Greece. It stands as one of the oldest monasteries in the Peloponnese. It was built in the 10th century but was burnt to the ground in 1585 by the Turks. It was rebuilt in 1600 while the frescoes by Anthimos were completed in 1645. It was burnt again in 1715 and in 1826 by the armies of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt. In 1850 after the rebirth of modern Greece, the building was completely rebuilt. The monastery was burned down by German forces in 1943.
It is famously linked with the Greek War of Independence, since it was here that the call for Eleftheria e Thanatos (Freedom or Death / Ελευθερία ή θάνατος) was first heard on 25 March 1821, launching the revolution against the Ottoman Empire. That day, Bishop Germanos of Patras performed a doxology and administered an oath to the Peloponnesian fighters. The revolutionary flag was raised by Bishop under the plane tree just outside the gate of the monastery.
To this day, the vestments of Germanos, documents, books, icons, the Gospel of Tsarina Catherine II of Russia, sacred vessels, crosses, etc. are preserved in the Monastery's museum, along with the holy relics of St Alexios, given by Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaeologus in 1398. Pieces of embroidery, made with gold or silver threads woven in pure silk materials in Smyrna and Constantinople, are also possessions of the Monastery and they date from the 16th century.
On the hill opposite, a monument to the heroes of the Revolution of 1821 looks down upon the monastery.
Kalavryta Tour, departs for Athens via Mega Spilaio / Spileon formally the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos is a Greek Orthodox monastery. The monastery is located in a large cave in a sheer cliff, where the western slopes of Mount Chelmos drop down to the gorge of the Vouraikos river, some 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) northwest of the town of Kalavryta. The cave was known in antiquity, and the geographer Pausanias reports that the daughters of Proetus found refuge there during their madness. In the first Christian centuries, Christian hermits occupied the cave. According to tradition, the monastery is one of the oldest in Greece, reputedly founded in 362 by the Thessalonian brothers Symeon and Theodore, who with the help of Euphrosyne (a local shepherdess, honoured as saint for her part in these events) discovered in the cave the icon of the Theotokos painted by Luke the Evangelist. Its medieval history under Byzantine and Latin rule is obscure. The monastery gained prominence only from about 1354, when it served as the residence of the Orthodox Metropolitan of Patras, since the city was still occupied by the Latins and the seat of a Latin archbishopric. The complex suffered large-scale destruction in 849, 1400, and 1640, when it was comprehensively rebuilt.
Several of the monks became members of the Filiki Etaireia and took part in the Greek War of Independence. In 1934, the katholikon was destroyed in a fire, and replaced by a new church in 1937. On 8 December 1943, the German 117th Jäger Division destroyed the monastery and executed 22 monks and visitors as part of reprisals that culminated a few days later with the Massacre of Kalavryta. The monastery was rebuilt from the ground after the war, and now comprises an eight-storey complex set in the 120 metres (390 ft) high cliff face. A male monastery, it celebrates on 15 August (the day of the Dormition), 14 September, and 18 October (Luke the Evangelist and the ktetors).
The Diakofto–Kalavryta Railway is a historic gauge rack railway in Greece. Located on the northern Peloponnese, it runs 22 km from Diakopto through the Vouraikos Gorge and the old Mega Spilaion Monastery and up to Kalavryta, stopping en route at Zachlorou. Now a modern train it still has to pick up the cog system to hold it to the gradient meanwhile you get a visual treat of craggy mountains, rushing water, and fields as you come up the gorge into Kalavryta. Simply stunning.
One of the unmissable journeys to make in the Peloponnese is aboard the tiny train running along the vintage rack-and-pinion railway between Diakofto and Kalavryta. It takes travellers on a remarkably scenic ride through the dramatic Vouraïkos Gorge, its reddish cliffs seemingly closing in on the train. The line switches back and forth under a leafy canopy of plane trees, clinging to a narrow ledge overhanging the rushing rapids below, and passing through seven curving tunnels along the way.
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