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 there have been efforts to preserve Themistocles’ Tomb as well as to facilitate the access to it.
Themistocles, whose name is closely associated not only with the history of the port of Piraeus but also with the glory of Classical Athens, was without any doubt one of the most prominent public figures at the time. A political genius and a man with a vision, Themistocles was the architect of the Athenian triumph over the Persian fleet in the Naval Battle of Salamis (480 BC) while his role in rendering Athens the supreme naval force of his era was instrumental.
His increasing popularity, especially among the lower layers of the Athenian society, soon earned him a growing number of enemies, mainly within the party of the aristocrats, who eventually managed to get him exiled, following the Athenian law of the ostracism.
Themistocles was exiled in Argos, which he had to flee as the Spartan Aristocrats had accused him of having conspired with the Persians against Greece. He found refuge in Asia Minor, in the Persian King Artaxerxis’ court, whose father, Xerxis, had been beaten by Themistocles in Salamis. Artaxerxis was a huge admirer of Themistocles and Themistocles was mostly welcomed.
Themistocles is alleged to have committed suicide when Artaxerxis put pressure on him to betray Greece and help him conquer it. However, according to Thucydides, Themistocles died because of a disease in 450 BC.
Years after his death, political supporters and admirers of him transferred his bones from Asia Minor to Piraeus. As Themistocles was considered to have befriended the Persians, he couldn’t be buried within the boundaries of the city. So his bones were buried in the tomb found today in Drapetsona, on the outskirts of the city.