Patra is famous for its sights, the biggest carnival in Greece, the beautiful sunsets, the modern bridge of Rio Antirio, the biggest of its kind in Europe, linking the Peloponnese with the plains of Greece (Sterea Ellada), the fun and the high spirits of the dwellers of Patra! Patra is the third biggest town in Greece, the capital of the prefecture of Achaia, and of Western Greece, while its port constitutes one of the most important ones in Greece, being the main gate to the West, as well. Its port is important from a transport and a commercial view. From here, ships to Kefalonia, Corfu and the Italian ports of Bari, Ancora and Venice depart. A central characteristic of Patra is its division in Down and the Upper town, the two being linked with stairs. Down town, which includes the urban core of the 19th century and the port, is next to the sea, whereas the Upper town covers the area of the older settlements, around the fortress, on the most western sides of Mount Panachaiko (1928 metres) before the Gulf of Patra.
The Castle of the town is built onto a low hill of Mount Panachaiko in a distance of 800 m. more or less from the shore. It was built by Ioustinianos in 551 AC approximately for the defence of the area and its inhabitants. On the west part of Acropolis in the Upper town the Roman conservatory of Patra is constructed (160 BC), older than the conservatory (Herodio) of Athens, the oldest conservatory in Greece, that, despite the course of the years, keeps hosting the most artistic and cultural events taking place in the town.
Aghios Andreas, the patron saint of the town, is considered to be the biggest church in the Balkans. Moreover, it is considered one of the most significant religious places in Christianity, as inside it, the Head of the Saint lies. Next to the old church is the well of St Andreas. Long ago, in its place, existed the spring of Demetra. In the spring, an oracle only for the sick worked. The place of this oracle is where Andreas, the Apostle, used to teach. According to the tradition he was crossed beside this spring.
The Turkish baths of Patra were constructed in the 16th century under the Venetian domination and they were then preserved by the Turks, for whom the habit of vapour baths was of significant importance. The baths have been working ever since and they are reckoned among the oldest saved, still in use, Turkish hot baths in Europe, satisfying both male and female needs. Patra was the first town in Greece, which, in 1902, got an electronic railroad or, in simpler words, a tram, something inconceivable for that time. Vassileos Georgiou square, the most central square in the town, has been the civilization centre, the place of festivities and many more events. In the square, the municipal theatre Apollon is found a micrography of the stairway of Milan, designed in 1872 by Tchiller and even since it has been one of the first opera theatres in Europe. The tower of Achaia Clauss is the first Greek wine factory, built in 1861, and, up to now, it produces some of the most famous Greek wines. In the premises, the visitor can admire the green nature, the historical buildings, the wooden-carved barrels of oldness of the celebrated black bay leaf since 1873. In the cellar of Daniiris, the visitor can sample some of the most delicate wines of Achaia Clauss.
In Patra, the first hydroelectric factory of Greece functioned; it has worked since 1927 as a municipal enterprise. Today it belongs to DEI (that is how we call the state enterprise of electricity) which has built a Greek museum of the history of the station. The contribution of Patra is also remarkable, as it extends to the scientific and the cultural life of the country with its University, the Technological Institute, the Open University, the Municipal Art Gallery with a permanent collection, enumerating more than 300 works of art. It is an ideal touristic destination since Patra is found right in the centre of three historical destinations, all of international reputation: Delphi – Ancient Olympia – Epidavros. It disposes of a marina for all kinds of boats, nearby beaches to rest and relax, delicious food, drinking, unnumbered cafés in crowded streets in the centre, like the street of Aghios Nikolaos, restaurants, bars, entertainment, student life and frenzied mood!
We suggest you jump at the chance and visit Patra in the period of the Carnival, so that you get the unique experience of the biggest Greek carnival. The carnival in Patra is composed of a range of shows, like dancing, parading, street performing, the children’s carnival, the chase of the hidden treasure and many others. The carnival’s soul is the thousands of the merry-makers, big and small ones, Greeks and foreigners. So, escape from the daily routine and participate in an endless cheer-up, with dancing, chariots, parades and masquerades.
Before you leave Patra, try a tendura short glass drink, buy your friends a black bay-leaf wine or a box of the renowned delights and be sure they will appreciate it a lot.
Attention-Translation: Olga Syntrivanis