Patras Old Jewish Cemetery
The first Jews to settle in Patras arrived from Syria between 323 and 281 B.C.E. In the 12th century, Benjamin of Tudela recorded the presence of a Romaniot community of 50 Jews (dating from the Byzantine period). The community in Patras grew, however, especially after absorbing Jews from Spain and Sicily. It peaked in 1569-70 with around 2,500 Jews. It was then the largest and most important Jewish community in the region. In the 16th and early 17th centuries., the community was divided into Romaniot, Sicilian, and Sephardi congregations. During this period, Patras was home to a number of well-known rabbis. The Sephardi congregations disappeared in the early 17th century; in 1616 there was a Romaniot congregation and three Sicilian congregations. In 1647 and again in 1684, the Venetians took over and destroyed the community. In the early 18th century, the Turks regained Patras and many Jews returned and reestablished the community. With the outbreak of the Greek revolt in 1821, most Jews fled to Larissa, Chalkis, and Corfu. By 1829, none remained. In 1917, Jewish families from Corfu reestablished the community, inaugurating a new synagogue in 1920 and organizing Zionist activity. The Jewish population in 1928 numbered 170 (of a total population of 64,838). In the leadup to WWII, there were 337 Jews in Patras. After the war, in 1946, 122 Jews lived in Patras and by 1978 only 5 remained.
The period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown, it was most likely founded in the 16th century.