Patra is one of the largest cities of Greece which attracts many visitors especially during the spring season when the famous carnival of the city takes place. Besides the carnival, Patra offers plenty of monuments to visit, beautiful beaches, the famous wine and liquors and its magical sunset!
Patra is also the most important harbor of Peloponnese which connects Greece with Italy as well as with some beautiful Greek islands, like Cephalonia and Kerkira (Corfu). If all the above don’t seem enough, you could always choose among a plethora of activities the city offers, like the diving centers, tennis, parachuting, sailing, canoe-kayak, mountain biking, hiking, climbing and horse riding!
Close to Patra there are some beautiful destinations to visit, like the picturesque Nafpaktos and the mountainous Nafpaktia which is a green landscape, ideal for nature lovers, families and romantic trips.
The carnival of Patra
The phantasmagoric carnival of Patra is one of the most important festive occasions not only for Patra but for the whole country. It started at the middle of the 19th century probably at the house of a local merchant. It gradually became a big deal and today the visitors enjoy the public carnival dances and the satirical carnival chariots.
According to myths, Patreas was the founder of the city, who came from Sparta and conquered the area. He united the 3 existing Ionian cities and founded the city of Patra.
The first inhabitation of the area was during the Early Helladic Period (3.000BC). According to the excavations of the city, the first heyday of the area was during the Mycenaean Period.
After the Mycenaean Period, Patra was geographically away from the large cities of Greece, so the impact of the city wasn’t quite important during this period. Patra wasn’t involved during the big wars of Greece, like the Peloponnesian War and the Persian Wars.
However the situation changed and the importance of the city was increased since 280BC. The Achaean Confederation was created and many cities of the area were united into one big confederacy which played an important part during this period.
The second heyday of Patra started after the Roman occupancy of Greece in 146BC and the destruction of Korinthos. The emperor Augustus established a roman colony in the area of Patra due to its strategic position and the important port. Many Roman emperors gave privileges to the residents of Patra and the city became a glorious and known city at that time. The beauty and the importance of the city during that time can be related with the monuments from the roman period, like the aqueduct, the amphitheater and the Odeon.
Besides the roman impact, the city was also influence by the presence and the activities of Apostle Andreas. The city became an area of religious conflicts until the final prevalence of Christianity.
The decline of the city began at 3rd AD until the 9th century, when the city was again improved. However the area followed the destiny of the Byzantine Empire and was occupied by the Franks, the Venetians and finally the Ottomans in 1461.
Patra was one of the first cities which rebelled against the Turks in 1821. During the battles, the city was completely destructed. The city was finally liberated in 1828 and was reconstructed by Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first prime minister of the liberated Greece.
Today Patra with its important port is one of the most important cities of Greece and is the gate of Greece towards the West Europe.
The local products
Patra has great tradition in the local specialty called “Loukoumia”. Loukoumia is a sweet food which can be made by different flavors and colors.
The known “Tedoura” is the local liquor of the city. The locals use to drink this cinnamon flavored liquor after their meals. Besides Tedoura, here you will also find the famous red wine “Mavrodafni” which is produced by vineyards of Peloponnese and is ideal for those who love sweet wines.
The new Archaeological Museum of Patra can be found at the northern entrance of the city. In the halls of the museum you will see exhibits that date back to 3000BC until the 4th century AD. The most notable exhibits are from the Mycenaean and the Roman period.
Agios Andreas is the patron saint of the city. There are two temples dedicated to Agios Andreas, the old and the new one which attract many Christian travellers. The old temple of Agios Andreas was built around 1836-1843 in the place where Apostle Andreas martyred and you can still see his marble grave in the temple. Near the old temple, there is the fountain of Agios Andreas. The new holy temple of Agios Andreas was inaugurated in 1974 and still dominates the city with its huge cross at the top and the twelve belfries.
As you will walk by the seaside street of the city you will see the lighthouse of Patra. This lighthouse was built in the location of an older one and today is one of the most beautiful sights of the city. Visit the cafes close to the lighthouse to enjoy your coffee and the view.
A unique sight of the city is of course the castle of Patra. This castle was built at the 6th AD by the byzantine emperor Justinian I. It was the defensive, military and administrative centre of the city for many centuries. Today you can distinguish the different building phases of this castle from its conquerors. At some part of the walls can still be seen the main part and the head of a statue which is called by the locals “Patrinela” and is considered to be the ghost of the city!
The largest cable-stayed bridge of Europe can be visited here! The Rio – Antirio Bridge connects Peloponnese with the mainland of Greece. You could grab the opportunity to admire this masterpiece either by walking at the protected zone for the pedestrians or by cycling at the special zone.
The Roman Odeon of Patra was connected with the ancient Agora of the city and was, according to Pausanias, one of the finest and most decorated Odeon of Greece. It was destroyed by earthquakes and invasions. It was excavated in 1889 and the restoration project was completed in 1956. Today you can visit this beautiful monument where you will see all the basic parts of a Roman Odeon and if you are lucky you might even attend one of the cultural events which take place here during the summer period.
About 8km away from the centre of the city there is Achaia Clauss winery. In 1854 the Bavarian Gustav Clauss visited the area in order to work at a German company which exported the Greek raisin. He was charmed by the beautiful area and he established this “Castle-Winery” which can be visited today. It became famous for its exceptional wines and of course for the famous local wine “Mavrodafni”. The visitors will be amazed by the traditional wine cellar and the astonishing view of this place.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit some beautiful beaches close to the city. The closest one is Plaz beach which offers a beautiful view of the Rio-Antirio Bridge.
East of Patra you will find some beautiful beaches to relax, like Dimorigopulu beach which is a popular pebble beach with restaurants, taverns and café-bars. Also, the organized Agiou Vasiliou beach is a good choice from this side. A little further, about 17,7 km away from Patra, there is the picturesque Psathopirgu beach. This one is a small pebble beach with beautiful view and traditional taverns.
At the west side of Patra there is the popular organized Kato Achaia beach. This one is a large sandy beach with many beach bars and activities like beach volley and beach basketball. Even further towards the west there are two more beaches which worth a visit. The first one is Kalogria beach, which is one of the largest and most beautiful in this area. The endless sandy coast and the view of the Strofilia forest will charm every visitor! The second one is Gianiskari beach, which is one of the most difficult to approach in this area. A small dirt road leads to this beautiful sandy beach with the shallow water.