The largest city in the Peloponnese, and Achaïa’s capital, Patra is named after King Patreas, who ruled Achaïa around 1100 BC. Despite an eventful 3000 years of history, Patra is often dismissed by travellers. Many pass straight through, boarding or disembarking from boats that sail between here, Italy and some Ionian Islands.
There's no doubt Patra is feeling the crisis, evidenced by closed shops, lack of tourist office and scrappy port-side streets. Nevertheless, on the city's more attractive pedestrian hub, you'll find a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant cafe and clubbing scene (helped by the presence of Patra’s 20,000 university students), some interesting sites and a busy arts-and-culture community.
Patra's cityscape is dominated by a former port (note: the new ferry port is located south of town), bland 1950s concrete tenements and a few surviving 19th-century neoclassical buildings. But the city also has attractive squares and architectural landmarks, such as the Apollon Theatre, the impressive archaeological museum and the Rio–Andirio suspension bridge, an engineering feat that links the city with western continental Greece.