The European Union selected Patras as the European Capital of Culture for 2006, so it is clear that the city offers a variety of sights and adventures for visitors. Tourists can pick up free bicycles at the Information Center for easy tours of the city. There are a few must-see locations that visitors will not want to miss.
The 6th Century Patras Castle (or fortress) was built by Emperor Justinian in about 551 AD to protect the town from invaders. It was used for this purpose until World War II. It was here that Ottoman Turks held out for many years during the Greek Revolution. Today, visitors can tour the castle and the nearby Roman Odeon (amphitheater still in use today) that is older than the Odeon in Athens.
In the upper town, visitors will enjoy visiting the Turkish Hamam (baths) which are one of the last such facilities still in use in Europe.
The Ethnological and Archaeological Museum contains small rooms full of artifacts from the Mycenaen through the Roman periods, including sculptures, jewelry, and pottery.
Although St. Andrews Church was built in the 20th Century to honor the city’s patron saint, it holds the remains of the Apostle Andrew, who was the brother of Simon Peter. It is believed that Andrew was martyred by crucifixion in Patras, and the church also holds pieces of what is thought to be his X-shaped cross.
Every year in February, the Carnival of Patras attracts thousands of visitors to participate in the 40-day party where people wear costumes and parade the streets.