“Every place, urban or rural encompasses history. This history has left its mark in space, in the archives of the site, in the collective memory of the people, the landscape itself, the buildings, the streets and fields, rivers and ports, all the faces of place and society.
And the city of Agrinio has records over the traces of history. The pre-national name was “Vrachori” (Imbrahoar), place name known from the 16th century . The sources speak of a small town that was developed as an Ottoman capital “Sandzak” of Karleli between 1684 – 1699 and then became a strategic hub of the Western Central and important Turkish administrative cente. As in 1730 the city’s population was largely of Turkish, Jewish and afterwards gathered a significant proportion Greek population. The history of the city of Vrachori shows that it played an important role in the socio-political and economic developments in the wider region. The city was permanently within borders of the modern Greek state in 1832 . Finally, with the Royal Decree of 20 June (2 July 1836) Vrachori renamed Agrinio. The old Vrachori the Tourkovrachoro, closed the circle of life. The new town took the name of an ancient ancestor, forgotten for so many centuries. The foundation of the ancient city by the King “Agrios” who was a descendant of the ancestor Aitoloy and his son Pleuron.

The newly developing local community writes its history under the pressures of belonging to a national society and economy and the inherent dynamics of the different inhabitants: refugees continental Soulians , villagers from the mainland and other residents of mainland Greece, old, residents and returnees, former wealthy families. The contraction also prior local – multiethnic and multicultural – culture and tradition – that was lost along with the liberation of the city – facilitated integrations and develop a common regional identity and tradition.

Then the economic and social progress based on the cultivation, processing and marketing of tobacco . This has created a new population mobility, increased the population of the city in 7000 inhabitants in the late 19th century . Tobacco is almost monoculture in the region, replacing previous extensive farming , stockbreeding compatible with the life of the plains .

In 1922 the new conditions have diversified to a large extent the behaviors, attitudes and mindsets and the city developed until at least 1940 , some urban socio-economic and cultural characteristics. Then the city retains a significant proportion of internal migrants from the mountains , the majority of them turns in tobacco production (as smallholders) and tobacco processing. Simultaneously, the old leadership groups economically and socially associated with tobacco withdrawn gradually transferring their activities and investments to the capital (Papastratos Elias , Matsagas , Keranis , Karelia etc). Despite the termination of the aforementioned rural activity which had linked the fate of the city, Agrinio managed to maintain momentum and to develop activities that make a modern urban center that has an important role and the surrounding area . History, society and culture make it an interesting place to stay. Today the Municipality of Agrinio has a population of over 100.0000 and gathers nearly half of the approximately 225,000 residents of the county Aetoloakarnanias .

Constantina Bada
Professor, University of Ioannina

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