Almost every archaeologist around the world knows that the urban planning of ancient Piraeus is exclusively attributed to the distinguished architect and pioneer engineer Hippodamus of Miletus. What is also known is that of the city’s magnificent urban planning, almost nothing is preserved nowadays.
That is, until recently: a few years ago, during excavations in an attempt to construct a building to house a legendary Greek lyceum, “Ralleios School for Girls”, which, due to a series of unfortunate events remains roofless since 1974, ancient ruins were found! More specifically, a part of the ancient city of Piraeus, constructed in 451 – 431 BC according to the perfect town and street Hippodameian plan, was revealed.
Among the ruins there were found fine water tanks with rainwater collecting and conservation pits, water supply network, sewerage system and an underground branch of chiseled water pipes for the city’s aqueduct. These universally unique findings, however, appeared to be of minor importance to those in office at the time: they decided the demolition of the archaeological findings in favor of the school building erection!
Fortunately, though, thanks to the strong protest and concerted actions of foreign archaeologists and Piraeus’ citizens, the area was officially recognized as an archaeological site and the invaluable ruins were rescued from the imminent destruction. Unlike the glad turn of events concerning the Hippodameian town planning, however, the school is in search of a roof up to this day.
In stark contrast to their both archaeological and historical significance, the findings are treated with pointed indifference and the excavation program is left incomplete. The plot which houses the ancient ruins is poorly maintained, sloppily fenced and not open to the public.
Despite the state’s indifference, citizens and tourists alike can admire what’s left of Hippodamus miraculous work, wandering around the city centre. The plot occupies a whole city block and is still known as the “Ralleios Lyceum Block”. It is surrounded by Perikleous, Skouze, Karaiskou and Gladstonos streets, in Terpsithea, just a few meters away from Piraeus Municipal Theatre.