Kalavryta or Kalavrita is a small mountain town in the Prefecture of Achaia. They are built in the Aroania Mountains (Helmos) at an altitude of 735 meters. They are the seat of the homonymous Municipality, as well as of the former homonymous Province. Their population according to the national census of 2011 amounts to 1,674 permanent residents, while making them one of the most important centers of the prefecture and the most important inland of its eastern part. In 2001 they had 1,679 permanent residents.



The city of Kalavryta is built on the site of the ancient Arcadian city of Kynaithi (or Kynaitha) which was located in the part of Azania. The name Kalavryta, which according to experts means "good fountains", seems to have acquired it during the Frankish period in the 13th century AD, when it was the seat of one of the 12 Baronies of the Principality of Achaia with the first Baron Otto de Tournai (Othon de Tournay) who built his castle on the ruins of the citadel of ancient Kynaitha. In the French version of the Chronicle of Morea it is referred to as Calovrate.
In 1430 Kalavryta became the seat of one of the three independent Byzantine hegemonies (despotate) in which the Peloponnese is now divided, with Thomas Paleologos as its first despot. Two years later the dominion of Kalavryta was taken over by Constantine Paleologos, who held this position until 1443.

The region of Kalavryta participated in both the revolution of 1770 (Orlofika) and 1821 where its outcome resulted in the liberation of much of present-day Greece and the establishment of the independent Greek state. In the first case, the metropolitan of Old Patras Parthenios declared the local uprising while in 1821 in the monastery of Agia Lavra of Kalavryta the revolution was also proclaimed by the German of Old Patras and the chiefs of the Peloponnese who had gathered there (see also Doxology). In the wider area of ​​Kalavryta there were sporadic attacks against Turks from mid-March 1821. This was followed by the attack on the Ottoman authorities and the Turkish soldiers, who were locked in two or three towers inside Kalavryta. The siege lasted a few days, according to PP Germanos and other sources, or five days against Spiliadis (A ', 60) and Philemon. Most modern historians believe that the most probable date of the liberation of Kalavryta is March 25. However, most writers who wrote about the revolution during it or in the following decades report that the city was liberated on either March 21 / April 2 or March 23 / April 4. Particularly enlightening is the testimony of Th. Rigopoulos (grammar of Th. Kolokotronis) who at that time was a student at the School of Sopotos (village near Kalavrita). He writes in his memoirs that on March 21, classes at the school were interrupted due to the outbreak of the revolution, so he and the other students had to return home. When he arrived in his village the next day (March 22), he learned from his father and brother George, who had participated in the siege of Kalavrita, that the Turks had already surrendered after resisting for a few days. This testimony seems to confirm the version that Kalavryta was liberated on March 21. With this first victory of the Greeks, the revolution in the Peloponnese actually began. The news of the beginning of the revolution in Kalavryta was brought to Hydra on March 27, 1821 by Panagiotakis Vafeiopoulos, who had been sent by ship to the shores of the Peloponnese to watch the events.

Because of their leading role in the Revolution of 1821, Kalavrita was burned twice by Ibrahim's troops, in 1826 and 1827. An American Protestant missionary who visited Kalavryta in 1829 reports the devastation but finds from the remaining good houses that the city was left. He also states that he was already convinced that the flag of the revolution was first raised in Kalavrita by the German of Old Patras.

In the administrative division of 1836 Kalavryta is referred to as Kynaithi.

The massacre of Kalavryta
Kalavrita was one of the areas in Greece that experienced the harshest Nazi German retaliation during the Occupation. On December 13, 1943, the German occupation army executed almost the entire male population (most over the age of 12) of Kalavryta and burned the city completely. For the number of victims and survivors of the December 13 massacre but for the total number of victims of the German invasion of the region, contradictory numbers have been given from time to time. Most reports put the death toll at more than 800. Kalavryta is today a characterized martyrdom settlement.


Kalavrita today
Kalavrita today is a tourist attraction mainly during the winter season as it has one of the best winter tourism infrastructure in Greece due mainly to the ski center located there. It is estimated that about 2,000 beds are available in the area of ​​Kalavrita. Kalavrita as well as the surrounding area and the wider area are characterized by rich natural beauty and have a variety of natural and man-made attractions. Kalavrita Ski Center is one of the largest in Greece. Remarkable destinations in the area of ​​Kalavrita and in nearby locations are also the two historical monasteries, Agia Lavra and the Great Cave, the Kalavrita Holocaust Museum housed in the old primary school of the city, the plane tree forest of the Aroani river, the Aroani river on the river Stygos in Helmos where the river Krathis originates, as well as the Cave of the Lakes near the village of Kastria and the Gorge of the Vouraikos river that crosses the famous Diakopto–Kalavryta railway.


Diakopto–Kalavryta railway
Diakopto–Kalavryta railway was inaugurated in 1896 and was built to connect Diakopto with Kalavrita by rail. It was one of the most difficult projects for its time due to the very inaccessible terrain but also the high altitude at which it ended, as Odontotos is the most mountainous railway in Greece. To overcome these difficulties the railway was constructed with the toothache technique in which the train is hooked, using suitable gears, to toothed rails on the tracks where the slope of the ground exceeds 10%. The railway crosses the Vouraikos Gorge passing through long tunnels and bridges, covering a total distance of about 22 kilometers. Today it is mainly used for tourist tour in one of the most beautiful and impressive routes of Greece and Europe, while also every year on the second Sunday of May, is organized by the "Mountaineering and Skiing Association of Kalavrita", the "Panhellenic Passage" of the gorge with the participation of hundreds of climbers and hikers.