The history of Patras – named after King Patreas who ruled Achaïa in around 1100BC – dates back over 3000 years. The city was once a major part of both of the Mycenaean and Roman civilisations, however there is little left here to remind you of Patras’ ancient past.
What was formerly a thriving trade centre is now a bustling university city, a place where modern architecture stands alongside a few surviving ancient treasures, and trendy bars, shops and restaurants line the busy pedestrianised streets and thoroughfares.
It is recommended to start your exploration of Patras at the famous street of Aghiou Nikolaou, which leads you into the Old City quarter. Here you can marvel at the ancient Medieval Castle, which was built in the late 6th century on the site of the old acropolis and offers fantastic views of the city, as well as the gorgeous surrounding scenery. The cobbled streets of the Old City offer a little glimpse into Patras’ past too, with their grand neoclassical mansions.
Elsewhere it is worth heading west of the acropolis to Ano Poli – the ‘upper city’ – to visit the Roman Odeum, which in fact pre-dates the famous Athens Odeum. In Ano Poli you will also find fascinating archaeological sites and the Patras Lighthouse. In the centre of the city, two fine historical monuments are sure to capture your attention: St Andrew Church, one of the biggest Balkan churches, and the Municipal Theatre, one of the first Opera houses in Europe.