Patras (ancient Greek: Πάτραι) is the largest city in the
Peloponnese and the third largest in Greece with a population of
167,446 inhabitants, while the population of the Kallikrat
Municipality of Patras amounts to 213,984 inhabitants according to
the official census of 2011. Patras is capital of the Regional Unit
of Achaia, of the Region of Western Greece, as well as seat of the
homonymous municipality, while it has also been designated seat of
the Decentralized Administration of Peloponnese, Western Greece and
It is an important urban center and has one of the largest ports in Greece which is a very important channel of communication with Italy and the western Europe, important both in terms of transport and trade. Through it, mainland Greece is connected both with Ionian islands (eg Cephalonia, Ithaca, Corfu and less often with Zakynthos) as well as with Italian ports, such as Bari, Brindisi, Ancona, Venice and Trieste.
Patras is the largest economic, commercial and cultural center of the Peloponnese and western Greece.
During the Roman period, when the city flourished, Patras was a cosmopolitan center of the Mediterranean.
According to Christian tradition, it is the site of the martyrdom of St. Andrew, who is also the patron saint of the city. Also in Patras dominates the imposing Holy Temple of Agios Andreas which is the largest church in Greece and one of the largest in the Balkans, where there are also preserved relics of the saint and small parts of the cross he martyred and together with the older neighboring and homonymous smaller church compose an important place of worship for Orthodox Christians from Greece and around the world.
It is called the Gateway of Greece to the West, as it is an international trade center, a major port and a hub for trade and communication with Italy and the European West in general.
The Rio-Antirrio Bridge "Charilaos Trikoupis", which was inaugurated and put into operation in 2004, connects the suburb of Patras Rio with the village of Antirrio in Etoloakarnania, thus connecting the Peloponnese with western Central Greece. The bridge is also part of the Ionian Road (A5) and the European Road 55 (E55).
The city boasts and is famous for one of the biggest European carnivals, the Patras Carnival, with a multitude of events and the main features of which are the spectacular dances, the big parades and the impressive chariots, many of which often have a satirical character.
The city of Patras was also the European Capital of Culture for 2006.
Patras and the wider region have a long tradition in the political affairs of the country, having highlighted a large number of Prime Ministers in Greek history: the Papandreou family (three Prime Ministers, George, Andreas, George), Dimitrios Gounaris, Panagiotis Kanellopoulos are some well-known examples. The former President of the Hellenic Republic, Kostis Stefanopoulos, was also from Patras.
The most common explanation given for the name of the city is based on mythology and according to it comes from Patreas, the mythical inhabitant of the city, an Achaean from Sparta. According to the legend, Patreas, after coming as the head of settlers in the area of Aroi, expelled the Ionian inhabitants and enlarged the city through the union of the prehistoric settlements of Aroi, Antheia and Messatida and gave the settlement the name Patrai (plural) .