Patras, with a population of 300,000, is beset by problems common to all big cities: traffic congestion, pollution, and a lack of greenery and open spaces. However, the seafront has generated opportunities for improvement and change. Theaters, cultural and entertainment centers, green recreation areas and the reorganization of the beach formerly run by the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), recently taken over by Patras Municipality, have provided a new focus for the city. Refurbished factories The southern part of the city, the Dymaion seafront, where the large industries were formerly in operation, has undergone changes and the old factories have been refurbished to serve different purposes. The former Ladopoulos paper mill now houses a 1,000-seat theater, a legacy of Patras’s stint as the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2006. Another factory has been converted into an entertainment center and the old slaughterhouse has been turned into a multipurpose cultural and entertainment center, as has the former poor house. The Peiraki-Patraiki textile factory has been bought by the Patras Port Authority, which plans to use it as a transit trade center. The new port is also to be built here and, it is hoped, will help restore the area to its former commercial glory. Closer to the city center, the seafront has been turned into a recreation area with the restoration of the lighthouse, once the city’s landmark. The jetty of Aghios Nikolaos, beloved by strollers, is still accessible even after the implementation of stringent security measures in the port. The eastern part of Patras, where luxury apartment blocks were built in the 1970s, is now turning green. Since the former GNTO beach was taken over by the municipality, it has attracted thousands of residents who can enjoy a swim, get involved in some sport or attend concerts and other events.