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Aigio (Greek: Αίγιο, Latin: Aegium) is a town and a former municipality in Achaea, West Greece, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Aigialeia, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit.[1] Its population is around 30,000. Aigio is surrounded by trees in the north and cliffs in the northwest. The city can be accessed by GR-8A from the south and west. Mountains neighbor the southern part. The commune was known as Vostitsa or Vostizza from the Middle Ages until the 20th century and in medieval French Vostice.


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About the city

The blue Gulf of Corinth can be seen from many parts of the city, and a short walk from any of several main streets, via steep concrete steps set into the cliffside, open to a motorway lined with elite restaurants and eclectic hotels facing the sea. The brilliant blue harbor at Aigio boasts a long pier where fishing boats and sailboats are docked. The brisk wind coming off the Gulf moderates the fierce heat experienced in other Greek cities not so closely situated on the Gulf. Fishermen bring their catches from a night of fishing into the markets every morning. There are no beaches at Aigio, but outstanding, unspoiled beaches are only a 5 to 10 minutes drive from the city centre, and both taxis and buses are available. Sites of interest include a Mycenean House dating back to ancient times, located near the cliffs. In 2000, the ancient city of Helike (sometimes called "The Lost Atlantis") was discovered: it had been buried by an earthquake and tsunami in 373 B.C. Archeologists are now excavating the site every summer.[2] Charming windmills are located in farmlands where groves of olive and orange trees, also supporting flocks of sheep and goats, thrive SW of the community boundary. Mountains rise southwest of the city.

Of the several town squares, the largest one, with barbecue restaurants, fine shops, and nearby churches, has shade trees and many tables under colorful umbrellas. Another is located close to the hospital. There is also a circle-shaped town square close to the city hall, with bushes and a fountain, located on the old highway. The city has a hospital found slightly west of the city, and a rest area situated south of the city at GR-8A/E65. Charming residential houses surround the city and flourish in the western part of Aigio, making it a popular destination for Athenians and others alike. The townspeople are friendly, and the small restaurants inexpensive: some are covered with heavy grape vines. Typical traditional Greek cuisine includes spit-roasted lamb, mutton, lambs-heads, pulled pork, and the ubiquitous fish dishes, served with Greek salad loaded with feta cheese and olives, home-baked bread, and the local red wine, which is of good quality. Orange and lemon trees grow in most yards, and irrigation from small, open canals keeps the city greener than most. Persons in wheelchairs cannot navigate the steep hills and rough pavements of Aigio.

History

Antiquity

Before the founding of the city, the area had a Neolithic settlement. Aegium was founded during Homeric times. It became a part of the Achaean League in around 800 BC. During that period, it had several Olympic athletes including Straton (Στράτων), Athenodorus (Αθηνόδωρος) and more. From 330 BC until 281 BC, it was part of the Kingdom of Macedonia. It was later the capital of the Achaean League from 281 BC until the annexation with the Roman Empire in 146 BC, after the fall of Greece, the Romans removed the wall of the city and Aigio lost its importance. Aegium took the territory of Helike. Aegium split from the Roman Empire and became a part of the Eastern Roman Empire and later the Byzantine Age, during that time, it was renamed Vostitsa (Βοστίτσα) after the Slavic invasion in 805, its origin of the name came from the Old Church Slavonic words vosta and vostan which meant the city of gardens or the garden city.

Frankish/Ottoman Era

It was handed to the Franks in the 13th century and later in the 1457 joined the Ottoman Empire with brief interruptions by the Venetians from 1463 until 1470 and from 1685 until 1715 before being conquered and returned to Ottoman hands. It was renamed after the Greek Independence. It was the first city to be liberated on March 26 during the revolution of 1821. Its economy improved after 600 years of non-Greek rule, 370 years without a nation and 300 years of Turkish rule. Agriculture was expanded and several farmlands were created around the area. Its population expanded later on and received its train station.

Modern Era

After World War II and the Greek Civil War, many buildings were rebuilt and four to five story buildings were built. A bypass was opened in 1972, its hospital was opened and the economy expanded rapidly.

On June 15, 1995, a serious earthquake destroyed many buildings and damaged roads in the downtown and southwestern sections,[3] with a number of casualties. The earthquake shattered Aigio: small memorials are found throughout the city, with candles aglow day and night to remember the victims.

Agricultural protests in February, 2004. It had blocked GR-8A. The protests lasted several days, and blockades were created and closed main highways for two days. It was followed by rioting in the groves and rioting at a building in the night. On February 4, 2004, riots over demanding wage hikes for farmers took place in the 172nd km interchange or the Aigio interchange, a sign, a 172nd km post facing the westbound lanes, some bushes were damaged as they clashed with the police. Another one a day later took place near the olive grove and trapped some people. Supertrucks were blocking the superhighway. On January 28, 2005, tractors from the rural areas near Aigio were blocking streets so the farmers can demand better wages. It happened between noon and afternoon hours.

2007 Forest Fires
Main article: 2007 Greek forest fires

South of Aigio on Thursday July 19, 2007, a forest fire struck in the area of Dervenaria causing panic to its residents. Residents were evacuated with their families outside the danger zone. As helicopters and planes battled the fire, it quickly spread over the mountains and into the settlement. Some of its blazes were towering as high as 100 feet (30 m) on a fir (Greek Fir) tree. Six days later on July 25 (which also registered a record-breaking heatwave), a larger fire consumed several villages south of Aigio, including Mavriki, Kounina, Paraskevi and Pyrgaki, Pteri and Koumari, later spreading to almost the entire area, including Mamoussia, Ano Diakopto and Zachloritika; ashes filled the air as if a volcanic eruption had taken place. Outside the cities, fires erupted suddenly in various directions: multiple acts of arson was the verdict.[4] Dozens of fires continued to burn out of control, rapidly consuming groves, forests and pine trees—the area's worst bushfire in decades in the peninsula. Firefighters in planes and helicopters heroically battled the towering blazes: the fire slowed on July 28, ending in the northwestern portions including Kounina and parts of Chatzi.

Transportation

The Port of Aigion serves ferry service to Agios Nikolaos in the northeast. Ferry service is very small and only has three Ferries daily. The trip is 45 minutes long. It is on a road off the old highway. The port is crossed by rail. East of the port is a railway station and some buildings. The city is bounded by a river in the east and west. It can be accessed by another highway for Temeni, Pteri and Kalavryta on GR-31.

Subdivisions

The municipal unit Aigio is subdivided into the following communities (constituent villages in brackets):

Aigio (Aigio, Agios Nikolaos, Sotir, Foniskaria)
Chatzis
Dafnes (Dafnes, Agios Ilias)
Digeliotika
Kouloura
Koumari
Kounina (Kounina, Agia Anna, Pelekistra, Petrovouni)
Mavriki (Ano Mavriki, Agios Ioannis, Kato Mavriki)
Melissia (Melissia, Lakka, Pyrgaki)
Paraskevi
Pteri (Pteri, Achladea, Agios Andreas, Agios Panteleimonas, Boufouskia, Kato Pteri)
Selinounta
Temeni
Valimitika


Historical population
Year Municipal district Municipality
1981 20,955 -
1991 22,178 28,903
2001 21,255 27,741

Mayors

Anastasios Lontos
Dimitrios Meletopoulos
Dimitrios Oreinos
Georgios Meletopoulos
Inokentios Romaniolis
Diomidis Polychroniadis
Andreas Michalopoulos
Sotirios Messinezis
Athanassios Farazoulis
Konstantinos Kanellopoulos
Spyros Panagiotopoulos
Leonidas Petropoulos
Panagos Lyrintzis
Efthymios Gatos
Christos Lambouris
Georgios Kanellopoulos
Polychronis Noukopoulos
Polychronis Polychroniadis
Ioannis Stavropoulos (until 1936)
Sotiris Stavropoulos (1936–1941), (1951–1952)


Notable people

Dimitrios Meletopoulos, fighter in the Greek War of Independence


Newspapers

Filodimos
Proti tis Aigialeias


Sporting clubs

Aris Valimitika
Egieas Egion
Olympiakos Aigio
Panaigialeios - fourth division
T.A.D. '93 Aigiou
Thyella Aigio


See also

List of settlements in the Achaea prefecture
Gabriel Aghion


References

^ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
^ "Echoes of Atlantis" Iain Stewart, The Guardian, Thursday 26 October 2000 http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2000/oct/26/technology
^ Journal of Geodynamics Vol. 26, Issues 2-4, 1998, Pages 487-499 "Egio earthquake (15 June 1995): An episode in the neotectonic evolution of Corinthiakos Gulf" http://www.sciencedirect.com/science
^ "Greek fires blamed on 'culture of arson'" The Telegraph, World News 29 Aug 2007 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1561542/Greek-fires-blamed-on-culture-of-arson.html

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