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Brief history

With the decline of the Mycenaean centres, Achaians from the Argolid came and settled here, founding important cities. The region is named Achaia after them. Though politically insignificant through most of antiquity, it started to play a more dynamic role in 280 BC, when the Achaian Confederacy was created. In 146 BC the area fell to the Romans.

It embraced Christianity earlier than the rest of Greece (St. Andrew the Apostle preached in Patras and was martyred there). In 1205 it occupied centre stage with the founding of the Principality of Achaia by the Franks. Before too long it passed to the hands of the Palaiologues who ruled the Peloponnese from Mistra; they were succeeded by the Turks in 1460.

For a short period (1687-1715), the area was a Venetian colony. It was liberated in 1828.

A trip to Patras

Patras is the capital of the region or prefecture. It owes its name to Patreas, chief of the Achaians. The city is among the most important in Greece, and the largest in the Peloponnese. It is also a major transportation centre, linking the country with Italy and the Peloponnese with the Ionian islands. The city extends from the shore up to the Castle. It is divided into two parts, the upper and the lower, whose layout, parks and piazzas give it a definite distinction.

The old city, at the foot of the castle, still has quite a number of attractive neoclassical houses, while the lower city has many mansions, such as those housing the Municipal Theatre, the Odeon, etc. The Cathedral of St. Andrew, the city's patron, rises majestically above the lower city. To the left of it stands an older church built on the site of a Byzantine church that was destroyed by the Turks.

From here Trion Navarchon street leads to Psila Alonia - the "balcony'' of Patras - a lovely spacious square with slender palm trees and a sun dial. Patras possesses a fine archaeological museum, an art gallery and a printing museum. Dominating the city from on high looms the ruined shell of the castle, whose grounds have been transformed into a park. From here you have a view of the whole city and the sea beyond. Patras' famous Carnival - a festive sampling of its citizens' imagination, humour and high spirits - attracts thousands of visitors every year. Finally, the city's innumerable pastry shops, its quiet little cafes, its wide range of tavernas, its lively streets bustling with locals, foreigners and transient travellers complete the picture of Patras, beautiful and celebrated throughout Greece.

 
   
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