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Patra or Patras (Greek: Modern: Πάτρα, Ancient: Πάτραι, Pátrai;) is the third largest city of Greece, and also the capital of the Achaea prefecture. Patra is located in the southwest part of Greece in Peloponnesus. It is also the capital of the Region of West Greece. Patra's metropolitan area has a population of over 200,000 and is an important commercial center and a busy port, with regular car-ferry services to and from Italy. It is situated: is 215 km W from Athens, 94 km NE of Pyrgos, 7 km S of Rio, 134 km W of Corinth, 77 km NW of Kalavryta and 144 km NW of Tripolis.


Patras in Antiquity

Patras was firstly inhabited in the 3rd millennium BC. These very ancient traces of the city are located at the region where Aroe is situated today. During the next Middle-Hellenistic period, in the first half of the 2nd millennium BC, another settlement was founded at the region. But Patras starts flourishing for the first time during the Post-Hellenistic or Mycenean period (1580–1100 BC). The ancient city of Patras was originally formed by the unification of three Mycenaean villages: Aroe, Antheia and Mesatis. After the Dorian invasion a group of Achaeans from Laconia, led by Patreas, established a colony and the city took its name from their leader. During Antiquity, Patras remained a farming region but in Roman times it became an important port. After 280 BC, Patras plays a significant role in the foundation of the second "Achaian League" (Achaiki Sympoliteia) together with the cities Dyme, Triteia and Pharai and the initiative of the political movements is transferred for the first time at the western Achaia. Later on and after the roman occupation of Greece, in 146 BC, Patras plays the main role and Augustus founds here a roman colony. A cadastral map in drawn up, privileges are given, crafts are created, and the most important was that of earthen oil lamps which were exported almost to the whole world of that time, two industrial zones are created, temples are built, roads that render Patras a communication center are opened, streets are paved with flagstones, foreign worships are introduced. Patras is by then a cosmopolitan city. But at the end of the 3rd century AD it falls into decline, most possibly because of a strong earthquake that stroke the whole of NE Peloponnese in 300 AD.

Saint Andrew came to Patras to preach Christianity during the reign of Emperor Nero and was crucified as a martyr. He is considered the protector of the city. (A large byzantine-style basilica was built in the 1970s in his honor, on the traditional place of his crucifixion.)

Byzantine and Ottoman Patras

During the Byzantine period Patras continued to be an important port as well as an industrial center. Patras was invaded by the Turks in 1460. The first period of Turkish rule (1460 -1687) was a miserable one but from 1715 and on there was a revival of commerce and so in the 18th century it became a prosperous town again economically based on agriculture and trade. Later on, Patras played an active part in the Independence struggle against the Ottomans (1821).

Modern Patras

The town nowadays remains divided into the Upper and Lower part with broad flights of steps, as well as streets, giving access between the two levels. The upper part is the older and more picturesque but the lower part is attractively laid out with plenty of squares, notably the square of Psila Alonia and Georgiou I square. There are a lot of neoclassical buildings like the theatre "Apollon" in Georgiou I Square, the Town Hall, the headquarters of the Local Trade Association and the Justice Court.

The most interesting ancient monument in Patras is the Roman Odeon, now reconstructed and used as an open-air theatre for performances and concerts during the summer period. Overlooking the whole town is a ruined Castle, a relic of the Venetian invasion of the town (1687-1715). In current times, its interior is laid out as a public garden.

Infrastructure and facilities

Patras is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Greece. It offers its resident a lot of facilities such as shopping centers, picturesque cafes, pubs, discos, restaurants as well as educational and cultural facilities such as schools, colleges, a university, a library, two theatres and some galleries and cinemas. Two state-funded hospitals exist in the city: Saint Andreas, the oldest of the two is named after the city's patron saint and it resides on the south side of the city. The University Hospital of Rio is a university hospital, where med-students inter and specialise in their major. It resides on the north-eastern part of the city, inside the city's University Park, the pak.

Rail connection

The length of rail is around 12 km. A train station is lying west of downtown between the port and Othonos-Amalias Avenue. A little north is a freight yard with about ten tracks. Its length is around 400 m. It is situated near the park and Athinon Street.

The new highway

A new beltway, the length of which is 20 km, was first opened in 2002 to alleviate traffic passing through the city.


Patras suffered from a great problem of deindustrialization during the late 1980s and 1990s. Many big productive units were shut down one after the other and the workforce as well as the city's economy had to restructure. To this aim conributed the university, and the dynamic services and technology sector that evolves around it. Patras' industrial area is 20 km south of downtown, and is located between the 16th km of GR-9 and Fares/Phares (pro. FAH-rehs).


One of the biggest tourist attractions of Patras, is the Carnival of Patras[1], held every year from February to March. It is said to be one of the most famous in the world coming just after Rio de Janeiro and Venice. Every summer takes place the International Festival of Patras with a program consisting mostly of plays--both ancient drama and modern theatre--as well as various music concerts.

European Capital of Culture 2006

Patras was chosen by the European Commission to be the European Capital of Culture for the year 2006. The planning involves the construction of a major archaelogical museum, to be finished in 2006, which with its globe-like roof and modern architectural design, will enhance the town's northern entrance and take its place among the other town landmarks. Moreover the concept of Patras 2006[2] revolves around the main theme of "Bridges" and "Links", taking benefit from the City's rich history and its position as a "Gate to the West", to underline the essence of the productive interaction of culture and civilisation in Europe. The EU Commission found Patra's plans really ambitious and also commented that a successful hosting of the title by a medium sized city would make it possible to redifine the meaning of the term Cultural Capital. So far the program of events is being finalized and the construction of the new museum is moving on rapidly. Attempts to renovate old factories and link such spaces to the town's cultural life are to begin soon.

The Selection Panel for 2006 noted in its final report:

The current cultural activity [3] of the city includes the Patras International Festival (various artistic activities, mainly in the field of music), the Patras Carnival and the Poetry Symposium. The city hosts several conservatoires and schools of music,including one devoted exclusively to Byzantine music, and several orchestras and choirs. There is one full-time theatre group in the city, the Patras Municipal Regional Theatre, as well as several amateur groups. A number of schools teach dancing, and there are plans to set up a dance theatre within the context of the Patras Municipal Regional Theatre. Patras has a visual arts workshop, a school of icon painting and a carnival float workshop, and hosts a Municipal Gallery as well as private art galleries. The city has a Municipal Library, an archaeological museum, a folk art museum, an historical and ethnological museum and a museum of the press. The architectural heritage of the city is dominated by neo-classicism, but includes also constructions from other periods.

The Patras 2006 proposal focuses on two central ideas: “bridges” and “dialogues”. Cultural managers from Patras and the general public will be involved in developing these ideas. Further, four poles/programmes of cultural attraction will be developed. The first, “A city for Europe”, will relate to the architectural heritage, the industrial revolution and similar subjects. “The counterpart cities” programme will bedeveloped in the fields of human and social sciences and in diverse artistic fields.“The three sea battles” will present a cultural programme focusing on peace and understanding. The last theme, “The many homelands”, is directly linked to the etymology of the name of the city. This programme will amongst other things concentrate on art workshops, the transfer of know-how, way of life and entertainment.

Excerpt from the Report of the Selection Panel for the European Capital of Culture 2006[4][5]


Patra is home to Panachaiki FC


There are around 10 local radio stations and 4 television stations, 1 covering the entire south-western region of Greece and 3 stations that broadcast only in the prefecture of Achaia. The main newspapers are the Peloponnisos [6] and Imera.

Urban Planning

Much of Patras' coastline has streets running alongside. Roads include Akte Dymaion in the south, and Iroon Polytechneiou in the north. Unfortunately, due to bad urban design planning and lack of ability on the part of the City Council to supervise and enforce laws, which in turn is due to the lack of financial planning, most of the city's coastal areas are being illegally occupied by shops which are illegally build on the coastline. The Greek constitution of 2001 declares that the Greek coastline is a "National Treasure" and as such it belongs to the People. As happens with most laws in Greece, few Greek citizens pay attention to that Article.

A (Λαϊκή)laikê (Produce bazaar) on most weekends is situated SE of downtown, near Psila Alonia square ( Ψυλά Αλώνια plateía).

Quarters and Subdivisions:

Nearby communes


Historical Mayors

Historical population:

Year Municipal population Change Urban Population Change
1991 161,782 - 190,463 -
2001 171,616 9,834/6,08% 210,494 20,031/10,52%

The municipality includes the following communities:

Moira(73), Souli(900) and Ekilistra(1,401) along with areas in the Panachaicus range.

The urban area of Patras includes the cities of:

  • Rion (12,674)
  • Paralia (9,153)
  • Vrachneika (4,805)
  • Messatida (12,246)

That is 18,5% of the urban population.

(the above data refer to permanent population and are taken from the "2001 Census" of the National Statistical Service of Greece)

External links:

North: Strait of Rio-Antirio, Rhion
West: Gulf of Patras
Patras East: Erineos, east of the Panachaicus, Leontio (independent commune)
South: Paralia, Messatida/Messatis

See also:

A portion of content for this article is credited to Wikipedia. Content under GNU Free Documentation License(GFDL)