Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Save the Patounis soap factory!

  On Ioannou Theotoki street, just off Sarocco square, there is a small soap making factory which operated there since 1891. It is maybe the last old industry of its kind in existence in our days. Apostolos Patounis, the owner, is the 5th generation producer. His ancestors founded this soap factory in Zante in 1850. In 1891, the present building in the Sarocco area was erected to house the industry.

  It is the only place in Greece where soap is made by the use of olive oil. The Japanese say that using soaps made from olive oil is good for the skin health. Patounis soap is popular in Japan and in the Europe market, thus most of the product is being exported there.

  The building itself is a living museum of a 19th century industry. Many tourists and schools visit it and it is protected by law. Unfortunately last May, the co-owners of this old edifice decided to close the factory, raze it and build another boring and bland block of apartments on its site. For the time being, the production has been halted. Many people support Apostolos Patounis and they are trying to persuade the state and the owners to call their decision back.

  Let's have a closer look at the building. The two-storey edifice was built in 1891 when the surrounding area was the suburb of Sarocco (San Rocco). It was the place where the farmers sold their product and the karts from the corfiot villages stopped to unload their produce. At that era, Corfu had several factories, situated mainly in the Mantouki area. It was a great source of employment at that time, before tourist become the main activity in 1950s.

  Looking up towards the top part of the building, on the wall of the neighbouring 60s apartment block, the remains of another taller roof which existed some decades before.

  Two ground floor entrances. The left one with the direct access to the manufacture area and the right main entrance with the old sign on the top.

  Close up to the antique sign at the top

  An interesting video from Aftonomos TV with Apostolos Patounis showing around and explaining the process of olive oil soap making:

  I really hope this wonderful and rare traditional industry will soon overcome the obstacles and operate again for many years to come.

- Facebook group dedicated to the Patounis factory:
- Patounis factory official site: (under construction)


truestarr said...

Excellent posting!

What a terrible shame if this bit of history becomes another block flats.

swalker12 said...

Has the factory closed yet? Can I buy the soap anywhere?
Thanks, Steve Walker
Greensboro, NC

Anonymous said...

no i dont't think the factory is closed !

Mariana said...

Hey John, Bravo - that's MY photo of a Patounis bar of soap!! BoffinBeads Vintage

Anonymous said...


ctmedia said...

I was there a few days ago. Apostolos showed us the factory and he told us that the factory is listed by the Greek Ministry of Culture as a living monument of industrial archeology . That's one of the reasons why he still has the historic kettles that are no longer in use: He has to preserve the original character of the factory.

beadsandfibreslady said...

18.43 July 6 2014 The Patounis Soap Factory is continuing to open as a retail outlet and museum dedicated to the production of traditional hand-cut hand-stamped olive oil soaps! I think this website needs a bit of updating. People can buy either directly from Apostolos Patounis or via Ebay from small amount of stock held in southern England.

beadsandfibreslady said...

15.06 30 July 2015: Mr Patounis is trading from the same establishment that his great great great great great Grandfather started up in 1850 and he welcomes visitors each and every time they step inside that door you see here labelled PATOUNIS, it's a sweet folkloric museum depicting old tools and implements still in use today. Visitors welcome! Do pop in!

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