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History & Sightseeing
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History & Sightseeing

Patras was formed in Mycenaen times by the merging of three rural colonies. Achaeans came from the Laconia led from Patreas, after whom the city was named. Patras contribution to the assembly of the confederancy of the Achaean League was desicive (280 B.C.) as its function was based on equality and democracy. Apostle Andrew preached in Patras, where he was crucified and buried in 68 A.D. During the Roman domination, Patras became the leading power in the Peloponnese, reaching its height in the 2nd century A.D. When Constantinople became the new capital of the Roman Empire, Patras lost its commercial importance. After the 9th century, it gained new financial prosperity, mainly from silk production and procesing. During the Franks Domination, Patras became a barony with head quarters, under the Pope's suzerainty. In 1460 the Turks took over. Patras was amongst the first to turn against the turkish occupation, gaining final freedom in 1828.

The modern city was built by Kapodistria on its ancient remains. Today Patras is one of the most attractive Greek cities, with its wonderful street planning system. It is an important commercial industrial centre. It's advantegous position, being within easy reach of famous sights, such as Olympia, Delphi, Epidaurus, Kalavrita and so on, has made it a great tourist attraction. On a hill of the mountain Panahaekon just 800 m. from the coast, built on the ancient acropolis, stands the imposing Castle, a dominant structure overlooking the bay, with magnificent views reaching as far as the mountainious range of Sterea Hellas, opposite. The Ancient Theatre can be found on the western fringe of the hill near Saint George's square (Agios Georgios). A remarkable monument, second only to the Odeon in Athens (Herodio) to which it bears structural similarities.

It is used for summer theatrical performances and various cultural events. King George's square holds the centre of the city, with the dominent features of the Municipal Theatre "Apollon on one side, a replica of the Scala Of Milan. It was built in 1827 by the famous architect Chiller. Apart from theatrical performances it is used for "Bourboulia" the famous local ball dancing sessions during the Carnival period. The church of Pantokratora (Good Almighty) is included in the beautiful sights. The church has been altered several times. During the turkish domination it was used as a mosque and was later converted into Saint Markos catholic church. The most significant of all the churches, in grandeur, not only in Patras but the whole of Greece, is Saint Andreas Cathedral, the protector Saint of the city. Next to the imposing new structure stands the old church which was built in 1936-43 on the same spot Apostle Andrew was crucified. Other sights worth visiting are Psila Alonia, an interesting and charming square, indeed. The famous 193 steps staircase, at the top of Saint Nicolas (Agiou Nikolaou) street, leads to the castle. Germanou street runs through the old town with attractive old arched houses. At Boukaouri street you can enjoy a steam bath in the famous Hamam (turkish baths) the only ones left operating in Greece and the second in Europe, after those in Paris.

The annual carnival festivities, with the participation of thousands of masquerades, the FANTASTIC processions, floats, dancing and sideshows have become an interesting attracion. The established International Festival of Patras presents interesting performers from all over the world. Within reach are picturesque and interesting suburbs such as Mintilogli, on one side of the city and Bozaitika on the other. The remarkable monastery of Girokomeo, up in the mountain, the oldest in the Peloponnese and the monastery of Omplos, built in 14 A.D. are worth visiting. A visit to the famous wine factory Achaia Clauss, which has been operating for a century and a half, is of GREAT interest. Achaia Clauss, situated in a beautiful spot 5 km. northest of Patras, offers a MAGNIFICENT view of the city and the Patraikos bay. Rio is the main way of reaching Sterea Hellas and Epirus. Ferries run on a regular basis accross the chanel, joining Rio wth Antirio and Aetoloacarnania, giving at the same time the traveler an excellent opportunity to admire not only the beautiful beaches but the Castle of Rio and Antirio, also. Rio's Castle, which was built by Sultan Vayazit 2nd, in 1499, was named "Kastelli of Moreas" (the little castle of Peloponnese). It was repaired by the Venetians in 1723 to its present state. Just pass Rio, the old coastal road runs through beautiful places, rich vegetation and picturesque villages such as Psathopirgos, built on the seashore of a small and idylic bay. The Lambiri area is one of the most beautiful of the Corinthiakos covered by a splendid pine forest. Logos and Selianitica are coastal villages with reach vegetation and clear seas.

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