The scientific Kastellorizo Puzzle Festival is coming to Patras

The old municipal slaughterhouses of Patras (21-23/10/2022)

Last September, the 1st Kastellorizo Puzzle Festival was held with great success. It turned out to be a scientific event of national importance that far exceeded the goal and expectations of all of us, organizers, participants and sponsors. 

One might reasonably ask: Why start the Kastellorizo Puzzle Festival? Kastellorizo, paradoxically, is also distinguished in the puzzles: in 2020 the mathematician Pantazis Houlis, former professor of the University of Western Australia, current collaborator of the University of Crete and co-founder of a company producing educational puzzles, founded the Megisti Puzzle Museum, which accommodates one of the largest collections of puzzles worldwide. Recently, it was named European STARTS Centre (Science+Technology+ARTS).

At the same time, someone else can again think: How do puzzles help and why should we use them? The answer has many parts. First of all, there is nothing more attractive than a toy for children and this as an argument concerns children of all ages (0-100 years old). In addition, puzzles have a flexibility and fluency in expressing new and difficult concepts in innovative ways and impressive mechanisms, so that the receiver assimilates knowledge in a natural (almost innate) way. Finally, the puzzles significantly enhance the teaching power of books, due to the connection of the two-dimensional text with a three-dimensional puzzle, which essentially raises the level of understanding sharply. These are all the reasons why puzzles have been too widespread since ancient times, especially at the time when the sciences had flourished.   

The event was organized by the Megisti Puzzle Museum (Kastellorizo), which embodies the main purpose of the EN.I.G.MA club (Union of Ideas, Puzzles, Mathematics) after a proposal and in collaboration with Eleni Grammatikopoulou, with many years of experience, significant successes and great events in the field of Science Communication.

More than 50 scientists/researchers/educators and artists stood by the organizers and through various scientific activities and artistic events, gave the opportunity to students from the island, but also from Rhodes and to adult locals and visitors to see, experiment, create and experience science as an exciting experience!

The Puzzle Festival ended with the assurance that from now on it should become an institution that will bring the border island from the edge of the European Union to the centre of international scientific interest, and that Kastellorizo can now be proud because from now on it will export culture.

We want this wish to become a reality, and based on the fact that the communication of science and the offer of new knowledge, beyond the established standards, are always within the goals of a well-governed society, we were led to its new organization in September (22-25/9). 

We also went one step further: the Puzzle Festival will “travel” outside the island with a first stop to Patras (The old municipal slaughterhouses 21-23/10/22) and a second to Athens (former Public Tobacco Factory 16-18/12/22).

The choice of Patras was not accidental. It was based on the following:

  • Patras has a high-level scientific potential in the Field of Mathematics,
  • is a vibrant and hopeful university cradle
  • has already carried out, with great success, scientific initiatives: Patras Science Festival, TEDx Patras, Researchers’ Night (in the organizing committee of which Eleni Grammatikopoulou participated decisively), and finally
  • the team of Patras “Crew 94” participated in the 1st Puzzle Festival and through impressive actions literally fascinated young and old. Their upcoming participation as a co-organizer will contribute substantially to its success.

Patras, the festival will have two central thematic axes: Puzzles and Mathematics. We aspire that this festival will be an exciting event as we believe that its distinctive themes and the presentation of all actions through non-standard ways will lead to a review of the practices and methods of diffusion of scientific knowledge.

Already the University of Patras has supported and placed the festival under its auspices and the Department of Mathematics will actively participate. At the same time, relevant research / educational institutions accepted our proposal for cooperation with great interest and enthusiasm.

For more information about the 1st Puzzle Festival please visit 1st Kastellorizo Puzzle Festival 2021
you may watch the videos from “1st KastellorizoPuzzle Festival 2021”

Why is Karagiozis the Festival’s logo?

The choice of the Karagiozis puzzle is not accidental because Patras is the city that gave birth to Karagiozis through the legendary figure of Dimitris Sardounis (Patras, 1859 – 1912), known as Mimaros. He was one of the greatest Greek puppeteers. He is credited with the transformation of the Turkish shadow-puppet theatre into “Greek art” and that is why he was recognized by the press of the time as “the inventor of Karagiozis”.

For the Kastellorizo Puzzle Festival which will be travelling to Patras, the logo is a puzzle in the form of Karagiozis. It is an idea of Pantazis Houlis based on topology, and was transformed in the form of an innovative involved puzzle. 110 years ago (i.e. in 1912) P.G. Feeney had constructed the puzzle “Leprechaun’s Dilemma” based on a goblin figure from two joined pieces where only a rotational movement was allowed. The goal was to place a third circular outer piece around the goblin. Since then (to our knowledge) there has been no other idea that implements something similar. In November 2021, Pantazis Houlis began the construction of Karagiozis, consisting of three joined pieces with a rotational movement exactly the same as the one we see in the figures in the shadow theater. In addition, for the fourth outer part a square was used (instead of a circle). The addition of an extra piece to the figure, as well as the change of the circle to a square, created a completely new puzzle in terms of solving. Because, in order to solve the Karagiozis puzzle, not only two strategic moves are required that the old puzzle has, but six strategic moves that are in fact mostly new and different. Therefore, it needs more familiarity and imagination, giving the puzzle a more interesting and long-term character. In the future, variants with even more pieces may be built.

The old slaughterhouses of Patras (Palaia Sfageia): The animal market of 1903 that was converted into a multipurpose carnival museum!

A major project that contributed to the transformation of the coastal zone of Patras and its transformation from a “dead zone” of abandoned buildings into a creative zone.

The project “landscaping of old Slaughterhouses in places of creative industry, specializing in the Patras Carnival”  was a long-standing demand of the city. Its goal: to turn the carnival ephemeral into a permanent investment on the road to growth.

And a little flashback to their history:

When at the beginning of the century the old slaughterhouses on the pier of Agios Andreas proved unsuitable for the needs of the city, the search for a new site began. The clergy fell in the area of Itea on June 26, 1902.

In 1903 the Municipal Slaughterhouses were constructed in Akti Dymaion and were not an ordinary building. Its influences from the Central European industrial architecture are more than evident. The slaughterhouses of Patras stopped operating in 1995. Just before Patras – Cultural Capital, the space was rented to a private businessman and they were transformed into a large multipurpose space, which operated until 2013.

In 2018, the Municipality of Patras decides that this ambitious project of redevelopment of the site will be completed through the SPARC program, which was funded by the operational program “European Territorial Cooperation – Interreg Greece – Italy 2014 – 2020”, transforming it into a multipurpose cultural space focusing on Carnival and Karagiozis.

The building complex occupies an area of 20 acres. It is dominated by a large main building framed by other smaller ones that house auxiliary spaces, workshops and offices.

The Old Slaughterhouses are now a vital core of creative activities that take place throughout the year. The outdoor area and halls come to life through a variety of events, activities, workshops and exhibitions 

For more information please visit the site: https// from where the above was taken.