It is the biggest city of the Peloponnese, the capital of the Greek carnival, our port to the west, and the liveliest student city in the country. If “city breaks” where popular in Greece, instead of going on trips in the outskirts at the weekend, Patra would be the number one destination.
It has sunny squares, picturesque walkways among wide avenues, steps that climb up to the beautiful Upper Town, the Dasyllion pine forest that seems hanging above it, the first theatre ever built in modern Greece, Roman monuments, a byzantine castle and a vibe day and night that make Patra a destination all by itself, more than any other Peloponnesian city, to which you will only make a short stop on your way to see the villages and the beaches around them. Here you will come to stay.
The big, open Georgiou I Square is the “point zero” of the city. Here stands the famous Apollon Theatre, designed by Ernst Ziller in 1872, and here also start the stairs of Gerokostopoulou Street that climb up to the Roman Odeon and the Upper Town.
A pleasant, as well as uphill, ten minutes’ walk will bring you from the Roman Odeon to the wonderful Castle of Patra, and ten more minutes from there is the amazing Dasyllion Forest, hanging as a balcony above the city. The view of Patra and the sea from up there is fantastic and the best time to go is at sunset, when the golden light of the sun makes the landscape look magical.
Another nice- and very popular- walk at the sunset is the one towards the Lighthouse, an easy 20 minutes’ walk on foot from Georgiou Square. It is an exact replica of the lighthouse that was here since 1892 (the current lighthouse was built in 1999), next to a small but all green park, which is ideal for evening strolls, across the church of St. Andrew.
It is Byzantine, built in the 6th century A.C. by Emperor Justinian I on a low hill of the Panachaikon Mountain, upon the ruins of the ancient citadel, where till today overlooks the city. In summer, it hosts festivals in the small theatre inside it, and it is also “house” of Patrinela, the strange Roman statue that, according to the myth, guards the city from epidemics and cries at night when a famous Patranian (citizen of Patra) dies.
In the heart of the Upper Town there is the imposing roman amphitheater that dates back to the 160 B.C., which is three centuries older than our most famous Roman Odeon, Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens. Every summer, it also hosts great concerts and theatrical performances.
It is the oldest existing enclosed theatre in Greece, designed by Ernst Ziller in 1872, which is a micrograph of La Scala in Milan. One of the nicest neoclassical buildings in Patra, Apollon is today the main stage of Patras Municipal and Regional Theatre.
The last original hammam that still operates today in Greece, is this one in Patra that first opened its doors in the 16th century, during the Venetian Rule, and still remains the ultimate, super economical rite of wellness and relaxation. You can find it on Mpoukaouri 29 Street, in the Upper Town.
An extremely interesting as well as pioneer for the Greek standards museum that opened its doors in 2008 on the edge of the city. The original surprise about the modern exterior, with the titanium dome and the artificial pond, is succeeded by an even bigger surprise about its interior design: The first and bigger room is dedicated to the private life of ancient Patranians, the mosaics that adorned the floors in the houses, everyday objects and statues, and two splendid home replicas of the antiquity, a farm house and an urban villa that bring the past to the present and bring to life the long gone and mysterious years of the past right in front of your eyes. The next two rooms are dedicated to modern life and death, with the findings of the second room coming from cemeteries of Patra and the surrounding areas, from the Mycenaean to the Roman era.
The first Greek Winery was founded in 1861 by the Bavarian Gustav Clauss and keeps producing tones of sweet Mavrodaphne wine (and not only that) as well as welcoming visitors to the Wine Castle and its cellars to initiate them to the secrets of the Achaian vineyard. You can find it on the green hill of Petrotos, 8 kilometers outside Patra.
The imposing church of the city’s patron saint is one of the largest and finest in the Balkans. It is Byzantine, built right next to the older church of St. Andrew (of 1836), which in turn is built on the spot where Apostle Andrew martyred. Next to the old church is the well of St. Andrew, which in ancient times was the fountain of goddess Dimeter along with her small oracle.
Around 10 kilometers outside Patra, right next to the well- known, impressive Rio- Antirrio Bridge, there is one of the most well- preserved Ottoman Castles in Greece, known as Casteli of Morea. Rio’s Castle was built in 1499 by the Sultan Bayezid II along with its twin castle of Antirrio across the sea to control the Corinthian Gulf.