Patras (anc. Patrce), a fortified seaport town of Greece, in the N. W. part of the Morea, on the gulf of the same name, 107 m. W. N. W. of Athens, capital of the nomarchy of Achaia and Elis; pop. in 1871, 19,641. It is situated partly on a spur of Mt. Voidhia, on which stood the ancient town, but principally on the level plain below it. The streets are broad and at right angles; the houses mostly of one story on account of earthquakes. There is a castle on the site of the ancient acropolis. Patras is the principal seat of the foreign trade in the Morea. For the protection of the harbor a mole has been constructed. - The ancient city was founded by the Ionians, from whom it was wrested by the Achgeans under Patreus, from whom the city received its name. During the Peloponnesian war it alone of the Achaean towns embraced the side of the Athenians. In 419 B. 0. Alcibiades persuaded the inhabitants to join the city and port by a long wall. It was a member of the Achaean league, and during the war between the Achseans and Romans it was reduced to insignificance.
Augustus selected it as one of the two Roman colonies established on the W. coast of Greece. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the 6th century; subsequently it was a dukedom of the Byzantine empire; was sold to the Venetians in 1408; and was taken by the Turks in 1446. It was afterward taken and retaken several times by the Turks and Venetians. In 1716 it was captured by the Turks, in whose hands it remained until the Greek revolution. It was the first city to raise the standard of independence Feb. 12, 1821, and in the following April it was burned by the Turks. It was recovered by the Greeks, but during the war the castle was held by a Turkish garrison, which in 1828 capitulated to a French force. Since the revolution the progress of Patras has been very rapid, and its manufactures and trade have greatly increased. - The gulf of Patras lies between AEtolia and the N. W. coast of the Morea and between the gulf of Lepanto on the east and the Ionian sea on the west. Its length is 22 m., its greatest breadth 14 m.
Its navigation is difficult, and during the winter months sometimes dangerous.