|Location of Palaiochori (red) within Aetolia|
Location of Palaiochori (red) within Aetolia
|• Mayor||Eleftherios Manango|
Palaiochori (Aetolian: Παλαιοχώρι) is a commune and the largest city by population, in Aetolia. The city is also the cultural, economic and political capital of Aetolia. It is located on the eastern coast of the Ledennic Peninsula. In the north, the urban area reaches towards the southern end of the Fraxos urban area, in the west it is bordered by the rural Arcadian Plains and to the east by Leivathos and the Gulf of Aetolia. In the south it borders the Itanos urban area.
The city is located on and around the isthmus between Lake Axos and the Gulf of Aetolia. The borough of Kalamos is located on the northern bank of the Sinope River, while Central Palaiochori is located on the southern bank of the river and around Palaiochori Bay. On the western shore of Lake Axos are the boroughs of Juktas, Akragas and Olbia. Patras and Stratos lie the eastern shore of Lake Axos. Kallipolis is located at southern end of the city, on the eastern lakeshore. Semasus is located to the east of the Bay of Palaiochori and Zakros is located inland between Palaiochori and Semasus.
The city's administration is common among Aetolian cities, with the surrounding communes being incorporated into the metropolitan area while remaining a separate entity. However, during Palaiochori's rapid expansion in the 18th century, several medium-sized cities had been swallowed up by the urban area. Stratos, one of the oldest continuous settlements in Aetolia, was an example of another city being incorporated into the metro area. Stratos and Palaiochori became a continuous urban area in 1767, Stratos itself having already connected with neighboring Kallispolis in 1760.
The fractured governance of Palaiochori led to government creating Intercommmunalities in 1956, made up of a group of communes that covered an urban area. Palaiochori was the first of these, eventually it was expanded into an Urban Community in 1974, with a single council and mayor covering several communes. Another unique feature of the city's governance is the increased role of the Provincial government of Arcadia. It has responsibility for providing integrated transport in the city, including roads, public transport, rapid transit, and operation of the city's airports and seaports.
The population of the Palaiochori urban area is 8.06 million, making it the most populated commune and urban area in Aetolia, it is also the most populated metropolitan area in Aetolia. The city has extensive financial, political, economic, cultural, historical and educational influence, having been the centre of several Aetolian Empires through history. Being located at the centre of Aetolia, it serves as the hub of the country's railway and highway networks, as well as being home to major transportation hubs (by air, sea and land).
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Administration
- 5 Cityscape
- 6 Economy
- 7 Demographics
- 8 Culture and contemporary life
- 9 Education
- 10 Environment
- 11 Transport
- 12 International relations
Palaiochori comes from Aetolian for "old village" (παλιό χωριό, palió chorió). It was given this name after the initial abandonment of an earlier village (name unknown) in the area in approximately 6500 BCE. Later settlers founded the present settlement with reference to the history, giving it the name Palaiochorion (Παλαιοχώριον).
Palaiochorion was then name of the city for several centuries, until it was modernized during the 16th century to Palaiochori.
Palaiochori is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Evidence shows an earlier failed settlement occurred in the general vicinity in 6500 BCE, before Palaiochori was established in approximately 6000 BCE by settlers moving north.
Palaiochori became a principal centre in early Name culture, with the Acropolis of Palaiochori becoming an important fortress in 1500 BCE. The location of Palaiochori, on the coast and relatively central on the Ledennic Peninsula made it an important centre of early Aetolian culture and trade. It had an advantage over the rival centres of Itanos and Lefki due to its access to the sea.
Palaiochori had built up a considerable naval force during the 6th century BCE, and extended its influence to the islands of the Sea of Aetolia, and to Efforoia (in modern-day Kandar). An alliance of city-states was formed, known as the Histrian League, led by Palaiochori. It came into conflict with Parrhasian Empire and several other Aetolian city-states aligned with Elis.
Conflict between the northern states continued throughout the 5th century BCE. The Anemodian War broke out between the league and its northern counterpart, eventually Palaiochori was defeated by Rhégion.
Most of Palaiochori is administered by the Palaiochori Urban Authority, which acts as an metropolitan community authority and coordinates metro-wide services that are the preserve of communal government. The PUA is made up of a council of appointed representatives from each communal council, generally the mayor.
Below this, Palaiochori is still divided into many communes, which carry out the bulk of local government responsibilities. Each commune is led by an elected mayor and council. There are approximately 20 communes in the urban area of Palaiochori, with a further 12 in the wider metropolitan area. The communes carry out local planning functions and are responsible for provision of rubbish disposal, public housing, park and sports facilities and building control.
Unique, however, is the prominent role of the provincial government of Arcadia in Palaiochori (whose territory is largely conterminous with the urban area), which has responsibilities in primary and secondary education, public transport, roading, and three waters provision (drinking, waste and storm water). Many of these provincial government functions are housed in directly-controlled agencies, such as the Palaiochori Transport Authority, and Water Palaiochori.
List of communes
- Juktas North
- Northern Zakros
- Western Palaiochori
Parks and zoos
Culture and contemporary life
Entertainment and performing arts
Palaiochori is home to many professional sports teams who compete at the national and international level.
The city is renowned for its educational establishments, being home to 7 internationally recognised universities, as well as 4 tertiary colleges. The universities range in size from 60,000 students at the largest, to just 2,500 at the smallest establishment. The top ranked university in the city is Stratos University, followed by the Aetolian National University. Accordingly, Palaiochori is one of the world's great student cities, and has several boroughs with concentrated student populations. The main student areas are located in Stratos, Kallispolis and Metaxas Park in central Palaiochori. Each of these areas has student specific facilities and is located near one or more university campuses. Located in Stratos is the Koufós Student Village, the largest and most popular in Aetolia, which is home to many nightclubs, bars, eateries, hostels and student-focused stores.
The Arcadian Education Department provides for 22 senior high schools, 34 junior high schools and 112 primary schools in the wider urban area. There are also a further 12 training colleges in the city, which provide vocational training to those who do not wish to go to senior high. The largest school is Patras Junior High School, with 10,000 students. The smallest is the Souda Primary School, with just 13 students in 2018. Souda is maintained only because it is the last remaining school in the declining Melabes commune in the extreme northwest of the city.
Bus transport in Palaiochori is provided by two networks, the Western Bus Network and Bus Central. Both are part of the Palaiochori Transport Authority mass-transit network. Western Bus Network, known by its local acronym "DDL", operates in the western boroughs of Kalamos, Juktas, Arkagos, Mallia, and Olbia (areas generally on the western side of Lake Axos); using a fleet of 220 electric ultra-low-floor trolleybuses. The main features of this network are the large bus exchange in Central Juktas, and a guided bus-way between Central Juktas and Olbia, enabling speeds of up to 100 km/h.
The Bus Central network serves the parts of Palaiochori not served by DDL, primarily the eastern and central areas of the city. There is an exchange station in Stratos that links the two networks together, and another in Kalamos which links northern routes. The network has a fleet of 456 buses, made up of a variety of models and types, the large proportion of the fleet being aging diesel powered buses, notorious for mechanical faults which cause delays on the network. Certain areas are currently being upgraded to trolleybus capable zones, replacing diesel buses, as part of the Eastern Bus Upgrade which aims to reduce delays and expand the capacity of eastern bus routes. The central exchange is located at the National Mall, near Palaiochori Central station and Palaiochori Metaxas railway station, which is due to be replaced with a new bus exchange to the north, located adjacent to Metaxas station, which will link with an under-construction underground guided bus-way and the Palaiochori Tram.
The western network has retained its trolley buses and overhead electrification due to decisions made by the previous communes before public transport functions were transferred to the province in 1990. While communes in the central city opted to remove their wires and opt for diesel buses during the 1960s, the west's authorities opted to retain them, partly because the cost of maintaining the system was less than expenditure on new diesel buses. After reorganisation, it allowed the Palaiochori Transport Authority to maintain the network in the west and expand it. The high cost of reinstating the electrification in the central boroughs has historically prevented PTA from doing so.
In 2012 it was announced that the Bus Central network would receive replacements for its remaining fleet of aging diesel buses, which will be replaced with an efficient bio-diesel fleet. This response was mainly due to delays and limitations of the Eastern Bus Upgrade, which had fallen behind and suffered from a cut in federal funding.
Services run 365 days of the year, 24 hours of the day. The Stratos area network has ran uninterrupted for 102 years, making it the oldest surviving network in Aetolia, although some routes, as well as the operator, have changed.
The metro system in Palaiochori is made up of 17 rapid transit lines. The majority of which have significant underground sections. Many of the lines travel through the central city, connecting with other services at a series of transit hubs.
The first line of the metro opened in 1908, extending from the Northern Isthmus to Palaiochori Central station. It was extended east two years later towards the suburb of Patras. The central city portion of this extension was underground, but the majority was built above ground. Today known as the A line it was further extended in 1916, 1967, 1988 and 2000.
The rolling stock of the metro consists of several different eras and classes of electric multiple units. The A, B, C, D, and E lines all share the older and smaller loading gauge B class units. These are smaller to fit in the limited space of the early inner city tunnels that these lines run through. Later lines typically use a mixture of C class and B class units. The new P and Q lines will be the first to use the new J class driver-less metro units, which will increase efficiency and reduce service intervals on the lines.
The government has announced that it plans to upgrade the entire system to the driver-less J class by 2025. This will require a retrofit of several lines to advanced signalling and line management technology. The first lines scheduled to receive these upgrades are the lines still using B class rolling stock, which are nearing the end of their service life.
Future extensions to the new P and Q lines are to be constructed in several stages. Eventually, it is planned that they will offer additional north-south capacity and connect new areas of the inner suburbs. The lines will terminate at Kallispolis in the south and potentially at the Isthmus in the north. Plans have also been floated to extend a third line over the Laodekaia River and into Kalamos.
Commuter rail in Palaiochori is provided by Palaiochori Suburban Rail, part of the Palaiochori Transport Authority. The network extends from the central city termini along the main line routes to the outer suburbs. Most services terminate at Palaiochori Central station, which is the hub of the suburban network and provides a transfer point to several Palaiochori Metro lines. Services to the northern areas of the city (Kalamos and Akragas) depart from the northern termini Palaiochori Kolonos railway station. Services travel from Palaiochori Central to Patras, Amboulos North, Fraxos, Semasus, and Kallispolis.
Aetolian State Railways also operated some Regional Mid services within the Palaiochori metropolitan area. From Lambros station, there are suburban stopper services to Votsi and Koukous. From Metaxas station, there are suburban stopper services to Juktas, Kalomódia, Langádha, Itanos, and Marathos. From Kallispolis, transfers can be made to destinations in the wider Itanos area. From Kolonos station there are suburban stopper services to Fraxos, Kalamos, Atsipádhes, Kamaroto Beach and Vlasaika.
Palaiochori is served by two major airports, all serving international flights. Juktas International Airport is the city's principal airport and the largest in the country. The airport is a major hub and has flights to destinations on all continents. It was opened in 1974 to replace the space-constrained Patras Airport. The airport is located to the west of the Juktas commune, and is connected to the city by the Juktas Airport line of the Palaiochori Suburban Rail, and the Metaxas Express operated by Aetolian State Railways to Metaxas railway station.
Patras Airport is now primarily served by low-budget carriers, as well as small regional airlines.
Railways and ferry connections
Palaiochori is a hub of the Aetolian railway system, with several historical railway systems having termini in the city centre. These central termini function as one "Palaiochori station", and lie within Pigaino fare zone 1. Lambros, Metaxas and Kolonos are the currently operating stations, while many others operated in the past.
Historically, ferries were the primary mode of transport in Palaiochori. However, with the opening of motorway and rail bridges and the lake metro tunnel, their role has been greatly diminished. Palaiochori Ferries operate services between 6 terminals around the lake using a fleet of high-speed catamarans.
Palaiochori is connected to the national highway network in Aetolia. There are also several major motorways connecting the city to the surrounding region. The M1 is a large motorway that enters the city from the south through the Zakros Valley, passing close to the central city, then travelling north through Kalamos towards Fraxos. It is eight lanes wide, with four in each direction, for most of its length within Palaiochori.
The M2 is another major arterial route that leaves Palaiochori to the west. It connects the city to the major western centres of Larissos and Kavala. It runs from a junction with the M1 in the central city, through the inner suburbs towards Stratos, before crossing Lake Axos on the Theodorus Metaxas Bridge. Diverging from the M2 before the bridge is the M112, which travels northwest along the Patras Peninsula to Patras Airport.