By Christos Konstandakopoulos
Patra is a beautiful city, located in western Greece. It boasts a mixture of rich history with modern architecture, of natural beauty with the warm hospitality of its people. Either by car or by boat, Patra is easy to reach and offers to its visitors a wide range of places to explore and things to do. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones.
Starting from the center of the city, where all the cultural life of the city begins, we have Georgiou I Square, with its impressive fountains. Do not miss the chance to watch a theater show at the nearby municipal Theatre Apollon, built in the 19th century in a neoclassical style.
From there, you have multiple other sites to explore, depending on your interests. If you are a fan of history, ascend to the Ano Poli, where you will find the church of Pantocrator and numerous numerous instances of Roman architexture. The most important of these is the Roman Odeon, which is still functional to this day and it is great for a summer show or concert. Additionally, the Byzantine Patras Castle is worth a visit, as it overlooks the whole city and its interior is a beautiful public garden. A few kilometers away there is the new Archaeological Museum, with local findings from the Mycenaean to the Late Roman era.
If you want to hang out in the busiest places of the city, there are still a lot of options to choose. Being a maritime city, Patra has places like the lighthouse and the jetty, where a lot of people go to enjoy their coffee. Four sets of stairs divide the upper town from the downtown, and they are all regarded as graphic spots to watch over the city. They are in some of the most important places in the city, namely in Agiou Nicolaou street, in Gerokostopoulou street, in Patreos street and in Trion Navarchon street. The last one is a pedestrian area, with a small park. Also being close to Psilalonia Square, it is regarded as the ‘culinary’ area of the city, together with Ifaistou Street. A lot of these restaurants are indeed worth a try!
One cannot argue they have visited Patra if they have not been to the following places. First, there is the church of St. Andrew, dedicated to the patron of the city, where parts of his remains are kept. It is the second-largest Byzantine-style temple in the Balkans and the largest one in Greece, with a capacity of more than 5000 within the church. Second, there is the Spinney of Patra, a pine-covered hill inside the city. Its specially-formed paths are great for recreational walks and jogging, complimented by the shade offered by the tall trees. Finally, before leaving, two places just outside the city are Achaia Clauss, a wine industry and tasting center in Petroto village and the Mycenaean cemetery of Voudeni, with some of the most important sites of the Mycenaean world.
Patra is not only known for its sites, but also for its tradition and culture. The Patra Carnival is the most well-known and well-attended spectacle, the largest such event in Greece. With a history of almost 200 years and deeply-rooted in the mentality of the citizens, every year the month of February transforms the city into one giant theme park. The festivities climax in the last weekend of Carnival with two grand parades. Its characteristics are spontaneity, improvisation, inspiration and volunteerism.
Combining the ancient and the modern sites, preserving the traditions and creating novelties, Patra is the city of the harmonic coexistence of oppositions. It is indeed a lively city that promises any aspiring travelers to have a great time exploring it.