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History of Attica Cities < History & Culture < Athens & Attica   

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history & culture

Several areas in Attica have a deeply rooted ancient history, just as significant as that of Athens. Some of the most prominent are:

Piraeus has been a major Greek city and port since the Golden Age of Athens. The city was originally built by Hippodamus. During the Persian War, Piraeus played a significant role in the Athens defence, by having walls built that extended from Piraeus all the way to Athens. During the Venetian Period, Piraeus was called "Porto Leone". Important archaeological and historical sites are scattered in the city and its surrounding areas.

Today, Piraeus is the largest port in Greece and one of most significant in the Mediterranean and welcomes hundreds of ships daily. From its ports, travelers depart for the Greek Islands and for other countries.

Eleusis (or Elefsina) was one of Greece's chief cities in ancient times. It was in this city that the "Eleusian Mysteries" took place. These were ceremonies worshipping the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. According to mythology, Persephone was kidnapped by Hades, who took her to the underworld with him. The ceremonies celebrated the return of Demeter's daughter from the underworld.

Nowadays, Eleusis is a significant industrial town connected to the major highways of Attica. Archaeological ruins can be found throughout the town.

Megara is located west of Athens. In antiquity, Megara was a much developed town. It is where Eucledes established his Philosophical school during the 7th - 6th century BC. During the Peloponnesian War, Megara sided with Sparta. Myths tell that Megara was the name of the wife of Heracles.

Modern Megara is built on the ancient seaside city. This suburb is linked by the freeway to other areas in Greece.

The mines in Lavrion were a major source of silver for the Ancient Athenian coins and a chief source of revenue for the Athenian State. The area is full of ancient sites such as the ancient theater of Thorikos and the Temples of Demeter and Dionysus.

Presently, a new port is scheduled to be built in Lavrion, which will accommodate many ships traveling to Greek islands. The area used to be mainly industrial in character, but lately it has been converted into a seaside resort. The Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" is easily accessible from Lavrion.
The Temple of Poseidon in Sounio
The Temple of Poseidon in Sounio

Sounion is most famous for its splendid Temple of Poseidon, which was built in the 5th century BC. Mythology says that the King of Athens, Aegeas, committed suicide by jumping from the tip of the cape. This is where the Aegean Sea gets its name from. The English poet Lord Byron has carved his name on one of the front pillars of the temple.

Marathon is a major historical city. It is well known that it is the location where the Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC, which resulted in the defeat of the Persians by the Athenians. This one event totally changed the subsequent history of the world. The Marathon race is named after the run Phidippides made ahead of the troops, from Marathon to Athens to inform Athenians about their victory.

Other towns in Athens such as Kifissia, Maroussi, Glyfada, Varkiza, Agios Kosmas, etc, are either built on top of ancient cities or possess ancient sites and ruins.

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