In antiquity the city was known as Patrai; its modern form Patras originally being an accusative of direction. The city was a founding member of the Achaean League, but had seriously fallen in wealth and inhabitants by the hellenistic period. Augustus refounded the city under the name Colonia Augusta Aroë Patrensis, settling many of his veterans in the city as well as forcing the inhabitants of other Greek towns to move to Patras.

Hadrian too is called “restitutor Achaiae (restorer of  Achaia)”  on coins of Patras. At the moment Patras, with over 300.000 inhabitants the third city of Greece,  is one of the liveliest cities of the country. Famous is the carnaval in Patras.

Above: three pictures of the kastro of Patras. Below: the Odeion of Patras with some Roman sarcophaguses  and a groundplan of the kastro.

Left: An absolute must in Patras is the magnificent archaeological museum, which not only houses the most important classical and preclassical (Mycenaean) finds from the wider area, but which also has an extensive collection of Roman floor mosaics, largely from Patras itself, which in the Roman period experienced an enormous bloom.

Saint Andrew

Under emperor Nero the apostle Andrew was crucified and buried in Patras. The Slavonic attack on the city, as well as the Arab raids were without succes, as tradition claims, by the intervention of St. Andrew: unexpectedly the attackers left the city in peace.
The modern gravechurch dedicated to St. Andrew is the largest church in the city, containing a.o. a silver reliquary with the skull of the saint. This reliquary was returned by pope Paul VI as a sign of  rapprochement between the orthodox church of Greece and the Catholic church of Rome. The skull was taken to Rome in 1460 by one of the the last emperors of Byzantium, Thomas Palaiologos, when he fled the Turks who were conquering Greece.


The old church of St. Andrew occupies the place of the sanctuary of Demeter that is mentioned by Pausanias. Beside the church may still lies the “miraculous well” spoken off by Pausanias, which could predict whether a person afflicted by disease would survive. In modern times the well is considered holy because St. Andrew drank its waters.

Patras Carnaval

Left: The Patras Carnival (here 2008) originated from a party held some 160 years ago by a merchant named Moretis (1829). The customs of the Greek islanders (unification in 1864) naturally influenced the Patras carnival, as well as the fact that Patras is a port city. The latter also means that in modern times contacts from the West and Italy (such as the Venice Carnival) contributed to the formation of the Carnival. During the second world war, and the wars in the Balkans, there was a silence around the carnival in Patras, but around 1950 the party flourished again carefully and became what it is today: a party where thousands of people gather, dress up and have fun. The city is teeming with people dressed up, light, sound and colorful colors. There is music everywhere, there are performances and the terraces are full. The Patras carnival is one of the largest carnival festivals in Europe. The carnival is called Apokries in Greece. It consists of parties, parades, quests for hidden treasures and children’s activities. The whole thing takes just under 2 months, from January 17 to the beginning of March. The festival starts on January 17, the day of Saint Anthonius, on the Plateia Giorgiou with music, fireworks, dance, and pantomime. Other festivities during the carnival period include the Tsiknopempti (fat Thursday), this day precedes the fast, the city is then full of huge barbecues, live bands and choirs. Then there is the children’s parade in which around 5000 children participate. The Bourboulia is a traditional dance party in which women masked (to prevent recognition) can choose their dance partners. This goes back to a period in which contact between men and women was under strict control, the Bourboulia was a sort of escape. The end of the carnival is an immense Sunday parade in which the ritual burning of the Prince Carnival takes place at the port of Patras.