On the West side of acropolis, at the upper town, lies the Roman Odeum of Patras, erected prior to the Athens Odium. (Herodeum, 160 AD).
Pausanias, that visited Patras in the decade of 170BC writes, "It has the most beautiful decoration I have ever seen, after that of Athens". As Pausanias reports, inside the Odium that used to be a continuance of the Agora, there was a statue of Apollo, made of the loots of the war against the Galatians (279 BC), when Patras people had helped the Etolians.
In the centuries that followed, earthquakes, wars and conquerors destroyed the Odium and covered it with other buildings and ground. A small hill was created, which covered almost the entire Odium. The Odium saw daylight again in 1889, when there have been some works of digging to collect ground for the banking up of the port.
A lot of decades went by until the process of restoration begun, which was completed in 1956, the year that the Odium regained its initial shape. On the same decade, the surroundings were turned into an archaeological site, housing the exhibition of sarcophagi, mosaics and other ancient findings.
The Odium contains all the basic parts of a theatre such as hollow, orchestra, proscenium, scene and wings as well as 23 rows of seats, while its capacity is 2300 spectators.
After the establishment of Patras International Festival, Ancient Odium constitutes its main venue, welcoming in the summer months, top Greek and foreign artistic bands.
THE FORTRESS OF PATRAS
The fortress of Patras was built during the second half of the 6th century, on top of the ruins of the ancient acropolis. It is situated on a low hill of Panachaikos Mountain, at a distance approximately 800 meters from the coast. Its walls surround an area of about 22725 s.m and is constituted by a triangle outer enclosure, loaded with towers and ramparts, initially protected by a deep moat, and an inside enclosure that raises high in the NE corner and is also surrounded by a moat.
It was built by Justinian, after the destroying earthquake in 551 using material from buildings of the B.C. era for the defence of the region and its citizens. In the centuries that followed and up to the Second World War, it has been in constant use for the defence of the city, but also as an administrative and military centre.
During the Byzantine Ages, until the entrance of the Franks (1205) it was besieged by the Slaves, Saracens, Bulgarians, Normands etc, though without any of them achieving to besiege it. In 805 AD the people of the city were besieged in the castle by the Slaves and the Saracens and their victory, attributed to a miracle of the Patron Saint Andrew, was important for the restraint of the barbaric invasions in the Peloponnese.
The Frank Crusaders developed it, reinforced it and dug a moat all around. In 1278 it was mortgaged to the Latin Archbishop while in 1408 the Pope ceded it for five years against a rental to the Venetians. It remained in the hands of the Latin Archbishop till 1430, when it was set free by Constantine Palaiologos. Constantine moved on to extension and repair of the walls.
It was slaved, during the Turkish Occupation and it passed in the hands of the Greeks in 1828, after its liberation by the French General Mezon.
Since 1973 the Castle is under the supervision of the 6th Committee of Byzantine Antiquities. In the dismantling theatre (640 seats) that lies at the interior enclosure, cultural celebrations take place every summer.
The building phases that are obvious on the castle are evidence of the work that has been made from the various conquerors for its repair and fitting in the development of the fighting technology.
In a special notch on the wall, it is graved the body and the head of a male statue of the Roman Ages. This disfigured statue gained extraordinary dimensions in the eyes of Patras' people. It became the ghost of the city, "Patrinella". Tradition says that it was a woman disguised into a man during the Turkish Occupation that preserves the city against epidemics and cries in the night, when one famous personality of Patras dies.
The two churches dedicated to Patras' patron Saint, St Andrew, constitute a national and Pan-Orthodox place of pilgrimage. The small Church was erected during the 1836-1843 period at the spot where Apostle Andrew died a martyr. It is a basilica work of architect Lyssandros Kaftantzoglou. The whole body icons on the roof depicting scenes from the Bible, Fathers and Patriarchs are works of the great religious painter Dimitris Hatziaslanis, alias known as Byzantios. At the front and on the right side of the Church, near the sanctuary, is located the marble sepulchre of the Apostle. In the mid-4th century, on the initiative of Emperor Constantine, the Holy Relics was transferred to St Apostles' Church in Constantinople. When the Franks occupied the city, the Relics were transferred to Italy. On September 26th 1964, the Saint's Head returned to Patras by Pope Paul and after the actions that the citizens of Patras and the Orthodox Church took.
The new magnificent Byzantine church was founded in 1908 by King George I and inaugurated in 1974 by Patras' Metropolitan Bishop Nikodimos. It is the largest and most artistic church in the Balkans and one of the largest across Europe. The supervision of the construction works was initially undertaken by architect Anastasioa Metaxas, and after his death (1937) by architect Georgios Nomikos. The Church's central dome is 46m high and supports a five meter high gold-plated cross and twelve smaller ones, symbolising Jesus and his twelve disciples respectively. The church's capacity is 5.500 persons.
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