Archaeological Sites in Piraeus


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The Long Walls – Themistocles’ Ambitious Fortification Project

Themistocles was the first to perceive Piraeus’ strategic geographical position and its significance for the Athenian domination on the Mediterranean basin. With this in mind, in 493 BC, he proposed a fortification project, the cornerstone of which being the construction of a wall that would connect Athens to its major port and thus, controlling the sea, enable the city against any siege. The Persian invasions, however, put the ambitious project on hold and only in 480 BC the actual fortification works began. It wasn’t until much later, though (446 BC) that the original Themistocles’ project was completed. First … < Read More >

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Themistocles’ Tomb

Themistocles’ Tomb – a Monument in Piraeus Industrial Zone

Themistocles’ Tomb is located in Drapetsona, a suburb along the Piraeus port coastline, overlooking Kinosoura and Psitallia, right opposite the spot where the Naval Battle of Salamis – a benchmark in all Western world’s history and a personal achievement of Themistocles himself- took place. Themistocles’ tomb was found in the yard of a chemical and fertilizer factory, widely known in Greece as “Lipasmata” (Greek word for “fertilizers”). For as long the factory was in operation, no action to preserve the tomb had been taken and of course there was no access to it. In 1999 the factory closed down and since then … < Read More >

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Ietionia Gate

Ietionia Gate

Ietionia Gate, part of the City Gates along with the City and the Middle Gate, situated on the hill Kastraki, on the southern part of the port of Piraeus, was built in 411 BC and owes its name to Ietionia Coast which, according to various sources had probably been conquered by Ietion, a hero of the land of Attica (700 BC). As the rest of the City Gates, Ietionia Gate is part of the Long Walls, and played a major role in the general fortification project conceived by Themistocles. Built on the rocky hills of Ietionia, this part of the walls was of primary importance, as it protected the city and its ports by … < Read More >

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The Ancient Theater of Zea

The Ancient Theater of Zea

The Ancient Theater of Zea, situated right next to the Archeological Museum of Piraeus, was built in the Hellenistic Times (2nd century BC). In 1880 during excavation works aimed at the expansion of the city, vertebrae limestone columns, ancient construction stones as well as socket foundations – the latter probably belonging to a byzantine church – were found lying in an area known as “Frangoklissia” (a catholic church). Further excavations brought to light the Ancient Theater of Zea. Obviously influenced by the Ancient Theater of Dionysus in terms of structure, the Ancient Theater … < Read More >

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Hippodameian Town and Street Planning

Hippodameian Town and Street Planning – A Model of Ancient Urban Planning

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 … < Read More >

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The Arsenal of Philo

The Arsenal of Philo – Ancient Port of Zea’s Ship Equipment Storehouse

The Arsenal of Philo, a famous archaeological site, characteristic of the naval history of Piraeus, was built by the famous architect Philo between 346 and 328 in the 4th century BC. It was an amazing building situated in Zea’s port, right behind the ship sheds (“neossikoi”) and was used as storage space for all the equipment of the Athenian fleet as well as as a repository of new materials to replace old, worn-out parts of the ship. The Arsenal of Philo (123 meters long, 17 meters wide and 30 meters tall) was a … < Read More >

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The Shipsheds of Zea

The Shipsheds of Zea – The Shelter of the Almighty Athenian Fleet

Dockyards (neoria) were installations near the sea which were used as safekeeping places for battleships, throughout antiquity. Ancient dockyards were thus organized as to be equipped with all essential military infrastructures, the most important of which being the webs of shipsheds (neosoikoi). The shipsheds were built to accommodate fleets in period of peace. The long warships could not be preserved and maintained battalious if not kept ashore and protected. For instance, in case hull-fragile triremes, stayed into … < Read More >

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5th Century BC Residence

A 5th Century BC Residence Preserved in the Foundations of a Modern Building

On a summer day, not long ago, on my way to the city centre, I decided to take some convenient shortcuts. Walking hastily on the pavement I passed by all kind of stores, houses and people until I suddenly stopped dead in my tracks, absolutely certain I had just seen something it shouldn’t be there. Naturally, I turned around to take a closer look. I stood before a modern multi-storey building, at number 84 – 86 Ipsilantou Street. There was a fresh-painted, clean entrance with a close-circuit TV next to it; nothing out of place so far. Next to the house … < Read More >

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Siraggio or Paraskevas' Cave

Siraggio or Paraskevas’ Cave

At the feet of the Prophet Elijah hill, right above the public beach “Votsalakia” in picturesque Kastela, “Siraggio” or “Paraskevas’ Cave”, was discovered in 1897. Siraggio is an ancient tunnel, the construction of which is attributed to the Minyes, the pre-historic inhabitants of Piraeus. The pre-historic monument is approachable either by descending the stone steps connecting the main road of Kastela, Vasileos Pavlou St., to “Siraggio”, or by taking the lane ascending from the beach. The only thing we know about this mysterious tunnel for sure is that it owes one of its names to Emmanuel Paraskevas, the owner of … < Read More >

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City Gates of Piraeus

The City Gate & the Middle Gate of Piraeus

We cannot be sure of the exact number and location of all the gates of the ancient city of Piraeus. However, today three gates can be seen: the City Gate, the Middle Gate and Ietionia Gate, all of them known as the City Gates. The City Gates are extremely important as, according to archeologists, they constitute the oldest part of Piraeus fortification works. The City Gate is the oldest one, built at the beginning of the 5th century BC. Through the City Gate passed the main road to Athens. What can be seen today is the bases of the two towers of the gate. Beneath the avenue H. Skylitsi lies – in excellent condition – the yard that … < Read More >

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The Roman Residential Block

The Roman Residential Block – An Archaeological Park in the City Center

The Roman Residential Block is an archaeological park covering an area of about 1800 sq.m. surrounded by four streets: Iroon Politechniou, Philellinon, Leosthenous and Skouze, just a few meters away from Piraeus Municipal Theater, in one of the busiest and most lively places of the city. Excavations in 1981 for the erection of Piraeus Courthouse brought to light a whole city block with debris from homes and shops of the Roman era, the construction of which is dated roughly in the 2nd century AD. The excavation reaching the … < Read More >

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Ancient Port of Zea

The Ancient Port of Zea

The Ancient Port of Zea was the largest of the three ports of Piraeus, the other two being the port of Munichia and the port of Kantharos (currently the host port). It was the largest port in Greece as well at the time and probably the first military port built. The construction of the Ancient Port of Zea obviously echoes Themistocles’ view that the fleet was the milestone of the Athenian dominance in the Classical Times. The part of the ancient port that literally has survived time intact is its name itself: Zea. An inscription found on the inlet part of the port containing the contract of “the Arsenal of the Military Port of Attica in Zea” … < Read More >

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The Hippodameian Cistern

The Hippodameian Cistern – An Ancient Treasure Hidden in a Modern Building

The Hippodameian Cistern (a tank to collect rainwater), found in the basement of the building housing the Christian Youth Oraganization in Piraeus, is a unique example of the exquisite Hippodameian Water Supply Network. The size of the Hippodameian Cistern, dated in the 5th century BC, is impressive: it is 10,20 meters high (distance between the top of the cistern and its lowest part at the bottom), while the diameter of its base is 9 meters. The Hippodameian Cistern was a structure including three wells, but only one … < Read More >

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