PRIMAROLIA

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Patras of 1900 and the trade of raisins

The city of Patras, during the period 1880 - 1920, adopted the model of the cities of the West and developed into a modern, for its time, city. These timeframes experienced an explosion in the production and export of raisins, as the Corinthian raisins were a very valuable export product, mainly for the market of the then vast British Empire. Numerous merchant houses from Western Europe established dealers in the town for the trading of raisins.

The community created by the European traders, built their own mansions,
known as " Egglezika " (the English)  many of which survive even today in the area of Ities and Roitika. They built their own Anglican church that survives today in St. Andrew Street, and brought many new customs and behaviors to the city. Patras was converted to the predominantly modern city of the country, making it the country’s gate to the West.

Simultaneously, in the villages of the inner western Peloponnese, Achaia, Corinth and Elia the cultivation of raisins was almost exclusive and brought a significant income to the villagers.

The export brought a lot of revenue to the city, something impossible if the harbor did not exist, which at that time was the most important in the Mediterranean Sea. The first loads of raisins, called " Primarolia " were those that achieved the best prices in the ports of Liverpool and Marseilles . Due to the large revenue there was a large development of crafts and later, to a small extent, of the industry.

With the raisin crisis, Patras lost many of the riches it had gained, leading many of its citizens to be forced to emigrate, destined mainly to America, leaving the city to decline.

Old villa homes of raisin traders in Ities

 

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