The city that knows how to entertain invites you to enjoy its intensity, passion and year-round festive atmosphere
It has a world-famous carnival and its very own Rio. But you don’t need to go as far as Brazil. Patras, joyous and extroverted, entertaining and fun, looks as if it lives in the rhythm of carnival all year long. Feel its energy in every corner and in the dozens of youthful and lively hangouts, cafes and restaurants. Wander in the beautiful old town and in the castle built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. Explore the multiplexes, squares, sidewalks and the bustling port, linking Greece with Italy. This city in the Peloponnese, with its Mediterranean temperament, will never cease to surprise you.
What to do in Patras
This is Patras Carnival’s timeless slogan. Take part in the colourful festivities and it will be an experience of a lifetime; nonstop fun, dancing, floats, masqueraders and the famous treasure hunt that was established in 1966. All year long, the municipality’s carnival crews and artists’ workshops brainstorm ideas, cutting and sewing costumes and putting together ingenious designs for floats. The result is a joy for young and old.
The closing ceremony consists of a huge parade on the last Sunday of the season, which concludes with the burning of the Carnival King. On the following day, Clean Monday (the first day of Orthodox Lent), there’s an awards ceremony for the best costumes and floats.
A walk around sights and attractions in the Upper Town
It’s lovely to walk through this picturesque section of the city, with its narrow streets, archways, attractions and traditional homes. You’ll see the castle, the ancient conservatory, the Pantokratoras church, built in the 19th century, the Roman Amphitheatre (1st century AD) and the Old Municipal Hospital built in 1857. Originally designed by the Danish architect Theophil Hansen, it now functions as an exhibition space and cultural centre.
It was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I upon the ruins of the ancient acropolis and has borne witness to the city’s tumultuous history. The open-air theatre, with its majestic view of the city, holds various cultural events throughout the year.
So many squares, so little time
Which square will you choose? Patras has so many and all are filled with people having coffee and convivial conversations. You can begin at Psilalonia, “the balcony over the sea,” populated with tavernas and bars. At the centre, George Square (where the Carnival’s opening ceremony takes place), you’ll admire the famous Apollon Theatre designed by Ernst Ziller, a replica of La Scala in Milan.
A little further down, at Olgas Square, you’ll stop for a coffee and then head to the Archaeological Museum. Got time for another break at the square of Agios Georgios, where the trees create shade for its joyous chaos of tables and chairs. The view of the stunning Roman Conservatory completes the scene. Every square in Patras has a one-of-a-kind personality.
Agios Andreas: elevating the faith
Don’t miss the magnificent church of the patron saint of Patras, Agios Andreas (St Andrew). The dome reaches a height of 46m and is supported by a gold-plated cross, 5m in height, symbolising Christ, while 12 smaller crosses surround it, symbolising his apostles. Built in the Byzantine style it was commissioned by George I in 1908 and inaugurated in 1974.
A bridge to the future
The Rio-Antirio bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world, is a terrific feat of modern science and engineering. Its bold design makes an outstanding landmark and something of a beacon for change, for not only is it a structure of indisputable beauty; it has also been the catalyst for significant financial and social development in Western Greece.