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Map of Patras- Greece

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Patras is Greece’s third-largest city and the regional capital of Western Greece, in the northern Peloponnese, 215 km (134 mi) west of Athens. The city is built at the foothills of Mount Panachaikon, overlooking the Gulf of Patras.

Patras has a population of 213,984 (in 2011). The core settlement has a history spanning four millennia; in the Roman period it had become a cosmopolitan center of the eastern Mediterranean whilst, according to Christian tradition, it was also the place of Saint Andrew’s martyrdom.According to the results of 2011 census, the metropolitan area has a population of 260,308 and extends over an area of 738.87 km2.

Dubbed as Greece’s Gate to the West, Patras is a commercial hub, while its busy port is a nodal point for trade and communication with Italy and the rest of Western Europe. The city has two public universities and one Technological Institute, hosting a large student population and rendering Patras a major scientific centre with a field of excellence in technological education. The Rio-Antirio bridge connects Patras’ easternmost suburb of Rio to the town of Antirrio, connecting the Peloponnese peninsula with mainland Greece.

Every year, in February, the city hosts one of Europe’s largest carnivals: notable features of the Patras Carnival include its mammoth satirical floats and balls and parades, enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors in a Mediterranean climate. Patras is also famous for supporting an indigenous cultural scene active mainly in the performing arts and modern urban literature. It was European Capital of Culture in 2006.

Population

Patras is a city in Greece. It has a population of 222,460. The majority group makes up 90% of the city’s inhabitants.

Language: Greek

Currency

Greece’s monetary unit is the Euro. No other currency is accepted and it is best to exchange dollars or other currency at a bank.

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Geography

Patras is 215 km (134 mi) west of Athens by road, 94 km (58 mi) northeast of Pyrgos, 7 kilometres (4 miles) south of Rio, 134 km (83 miles) west of Corinth, 77 km (48 miles) northwest of Kalavryta, and 144 km (89 mi) northwest of Tripoli.

A central feature of the urban geography of Patras is its division into upper and lower sections. This is the result of an interplay between natural geography and human settlement patterns; the lower section of the city (Kato Poli), which includes the 19th-century urban core and the port, is adjacent to the sea and stretches between the estuaries of the rivers of Glafkos and Haradros. It is built on what was originally a bed of river soils and dried-up swamps. The older upper section (Ano Poli) covers the area of the pre-modern settlement, around the Fortress, on what is the last elevation of Mount Panachaikon (1,926 m (6,319 ft)) before the Gulf of Patras.

Climate

Patras has a Mediterranean climate. It features the typical mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers, with spring and autumn being pleasant transitional seasons. Autumn in Patras, however, is wetter than spring.

Culture

The cultural activity of Patras includes the Patras International Festival (with various artistic activities, mainly in the fields of theatre and music), the Patras Carnival and the Poetry Symposium.

The city hosts many museums, including the Patras Archaeological Museum, the History and Ethnology Museum, the Folk Art Museum, the Press Museum and the Technology Museum, the latter in the campus of Patras University.

Other cultural institutes are: the Visual Arts Workshop, the icon painting school, the Carnival Float Workshop, the Municipal Library, the Municipal Gallery, along with many private art galleries. The architectural heritage of the city is dominated by neo-classicism, but also includes structures from other periods. Patras is also a pilot city of the Council of Europe and EU Intercultural cities programme.

Religion

The city is the seat of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Patras. As in the rest of the country, the largest denomination is the Orthodox Church, which represents the majority of the population. There is also a sizeable living community of Roman Catholics.

The most significant church in the city is the church of Saint Andrew, in the south west of the city center. The construction of the church began in 1908 under the supervision of the architect Anastasios Metaxas, followed by Georgios Nomikos. It was inaugurated in 1974. It is the largest church in Greece and the third-largest Byzantine-style church in the Balkans, after the Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia. It holds relics of Andrew the Apostle, which were returned to the city of Patras from St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome in September, 1964, on the orders of Pope Paul VI.

Transport

Seaport

The city has always been a sea-trade hub because of its strategic position. The port manages more than half of the foreign sea-passenger transportation in Greece, and has excellent car-ferry links with the Ionian islands and the major Adriatic ports of Italy. Additionally, a new port is under construction in the southern section of the city to accommodate the increased traffic and relieve the city centre from port operations.

In 2011, the new harbour (southern port) went into operation. Ferries to Italy now dock there.

The port is connected by a number of daily routes to the Ionian islands Kerkyra, Kefallonia and Zakynthos, to the port of Igoumenitsa and to the Italian cities Ancona, Bari, Brindisi, Trieste and Venice. Seaplanes also operate.

Roads

A newly constructed, 20-kilometre (12 mi) ring road (the Bypass of Patras) was first opened in 2002 in order to alleviate heavy traffic throughout the city. A mini ring road (known as the “Mini bypass” of Patras) is now being constructed to alleviate heavy traffic-related problems in the city centre. Two large highways are under construction that will connect the seacoast and the new port with the Bypass of Patras. The first is over the small Diakoniaris river (from Eleftheriou Venizelou street until the Bypass’es exit in Eglykada), while the second consists of two roads, 4 km (2 mi) each, that will run in parallel with the Glafkos river. Another project will lead to an additional entrance to the downtown area by expanding Kanakari street.

The highway connection with Athens and Pyrgos is to be greatly upgraded. Patras will also be the central hub of the Ionia Odos highway, intended to bridge western Greece from Kalamata to Ioannina. The Rio-Antirio bridge is north of the city and links Peloponnese to mainland Greece, and was completed in August 2004.

Rail

A rudimentary single, narrow gauge railway track crosses the city and connects it to Athens and to Pyrgos-Kalamata, while the central passenger train station lies to the west of the downtown area, between Aghiou Nikolaou Street and Othonos-Amalias Avenue. The main freight station of Aghios Andreas lies further to the south, next to the homonymous church. Finally, the old depot of Aghios Dionysios, consisting of about ten tracks, offers basic turntable and roundhouse facilities; it is about 400 m (1,312.34 ft) long. A new standard gauge railway to Korinth and further to Athens is under construction.

Regional rail links were until 2010 provided by the Hellenic Railways Organisation, connecting to Athens and Piraeus as well as to Pyrgos and Kalamata. However all services were suspended in December 2010 on cost grounds.

Patras is bypassed by the Olympia Odos (A8) motorway, which is also part of the E55 route that crosses the Rio-Antirio Bridge, dominating the sealine across the Gulf of Corinth.

Public transport

within the city of Patras is served by buses. There are two transport lines to and from the University of Patras, and some nearby lines to the city suburbs, like Saravali, Zarouchleika, Paralia.

Commuter rail services have recently been established by Proastiakos, with one line currently connecting Patras, Rio and Agios Vasileios. The plan is eventually to connect to Kiato, from where the main Proastiakos already runs to Corinth, Athens, and Athens International Airport.

Regional bus links are provided by KTEL, connecting the city to almost the entire Greek territory and to places inside the province of Achaea.

Air

Seasonal air transport is provided at Araxos airport, about 40 km (25 mi) from the city.