The city The Carnival Useful  numbers

Patras, one of the busiest cities in Greece because of its cluster of University faculties, is the capital of Achaia Prefecture. It is named for Patreus, legendary chief of the Achaeans.

It is the largest city in the Peloponnese, and has the fourth largest population in Greece (160,000), following Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki.

As the biggest port in Western Greece, it is an important communications hub, connecting Greece with Italy, and the Peloponnese with the Ionian Islands.
The city extends from the sea front to the foot of mount Panachaiko.

Patras is divided into two urban districts: the Upper Town and the Lower Town. The Lower Town is conspicuous for its symmetrical street-plan and its many squares.

The Upper Town, which is the old part below the Venetian castle, has numerous neoclassical buildings. The Lower Town also has a number of period buildings by some famous architects. One of the most typical of these is the Municipal Theatre by Ziller. There are also buildings by, among others, Kleanthis.

The cathedral and pilgrim church of Agios Andreas (St Andrew), patron saint of Patras, is at the south-west entrance to the Lower Town. Beside it is an older church replacing a Byzantine church razed by the Turks


The pedestrianised street of Trion Navarchon leads to Psila Alonia, a large and beautiful square with palm trees and a sundial.

The city has an Archeological Museum with important fidnings from excavations; a Municipal Library; and a Press Museum.

Above the city tower the ruins of the Venetian Castle, now a public gardens from which there is a fine panoramic view across the city and the Gulf of Corinth to the coast of Midland Greece (Sterea Ellada) opposite.

Quiet coffee houses, outdoor restaurants of every description, busy local traffic, visitors form abroad and people passing through – such is the atmosphere of this beautiful city.

The world-famous Patras Carnival in early spring is a specimen of local imagination, humor and cheerfulness. It attracts thousands of visitors every year.


The Patras Carnival is the biggest event of its kind in the country. It is also in certain respects one of the biggest carnivals in the world and one of the most important in Europe.

It has been held for more than 160 years and its origins date to the start of the 19th century, when the first shrovetide ball is said to have been hheld at the house of a merchant called Meretis. It was in the 1860s that a formal Patras Carnival as such was held. Undoubtedly one of the reasons for this was the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece, bringing in Italian and  and Ionian traditions, though the event has also absorbed influences from many places in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. But Greek elements and local culture have always predominated.

The Carnival has gone through many shapes and stages. The start of its career in recent times has been taken to be the year 1966. This was when the Treasure Hunt was introduced – still a very popular event attracting some 50,000 young participants from Patras. The hunt, essentially a simple navigational game, has become, thanks to the inhabitants’ inventiveness, the core carnival lasting ten days or more, with its famous Parade.

The carnival events, starting on 17 January every year and lasting until Ash Monday, are either programmed by the Municipal Committee of Carnival Events, or planned by the citizens and supported by the spontaneity, the inspiration and the creative ability of the inhabitants of Patras themselves. The carnival is enriched yearly with new events with the last carnival Sunday Parade continuing to be the dominant attraction. However, the Carnival events are not only the Parade but also the continuous dancing of thousands participants who disguised and organised in groups flood the city streets dancing in frenetic rhythms.
The ‘Bourboulia’ famous ball is organised by the Municipality at Patras Municipal theatre APOLLON (an architectural creation of Ziller in 1872, a mini-reproduction of the Milan Scala Opera House). At ‘Bourboulia’ women wearing black dominoes and masks dominate and control men who participate in their everyday clothes. Entrance for dominoes is free while men have to pay.

The carnival events end on the night of Carnival Sunday with the burning of the Carnival Man. Ash Monday, with a kite-flying competition, concludes the month and a half long fun, although in some places the dancing goes on.


Population: 200.000

Telephone:  area code 2610, country code 30

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