The Piraeus Port, located in the southwest of Athens, is a must-see for travelers passing through the Greek capital. It offers a range of activities such as strolling through the marina, visiting the archaeological museum, or going on a boat excursion to explore the Greek islands.
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A Brief History of the Port of Piraeus in Athens
The Port of Piraeus has a rich history dating back to its founding in the 5th century BC. It was Athens’ main commercial and military port during antiquity, and played a vital strategic role for the city for centuries.
While the port has experienced highs and lows throughout its history, it has reinvented itself to remain relevant today.
5th century BC
During the 5th century BC, Piraeus was founded under the guidance of Athenian strategist Themistocles. It became Athens’ primary military and commercial port, featuring long walls and three natural ports: the military port of Zea (or Passalimani), the commercial port of Kantharos (or Central Port), and the marina of Mounichia.
4th century BC
During the 4th century BC, Piraeus experienced a period of prosperity under the influence of great Athenian orators and politicians such as Pericles and Demosthenes. The port became the hub of maritime commerce in the Mediterranean, allowing Athens to strengthen its influence in the region.
In 86 BC, Piraeus suffered its first major destruction in history during the Roman general Sylla’s conquest of the city. The port then lost its importance.
Byzantine period (4th century – 15th century)
During the Byzantine period (4th century – 15th century), Piraeus faced instability and decline due to barbarian invasions and conflicts in the region. However, it remained Athens’ port and was fortified for protection.
From the 15th century to the 19th century
From the 15th century to the 19th century, the Ottomans and Venetians occupied the region and used Piraeus for their own commerce. As a result, the port gradually lost its importance and became a simple fishing village.
After the Greek War of Independence in 1834 and the founding of modern Greece, Athens was declared the capital of Greece. This led to Piraeus experiencing a new boom with the construction of modern infrastructure and the development of maritime commerce.
In the 20th century, Piraeus continued to develop, becoming Greece’s main port with the expansion of its port activity and the construction of new infrastructure such as the Zea marina and the container port.
Today, Piraeus is the largest port in Greece and one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean, serving as the starting point for many sea connections to the Greek islands and welcoming millions of passengers and goods each year.
Exploring the Port of Piraeus
If you’re visiting Athens, don’t miss the chance to explore the Port of Piraeus. It’s more than just a transit point – it’s a vibrant neighborhood that’s worth exploring. Here are some of the top attractions you shouldn’t miss:
Zea Marina (Passalimani)
Take a leisurely stroll through this picturesque marina, which welcomes luxury yachts and sailboats. You can soak up the local atmosphere by visiting the many bars, restaurants, and shops that line the marina.
The Piraeus Archaeological Museum
Discover the history of the port and its surroundings by exploring the impressive collection of ancient artifacts at the Piraeus Archaeological Museum. You’ll find bronze and marble statues, ceramics, and inscriptions.
The Piraeus Central Market
Open on Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm, the Piraeus Central Market is a traditional Greek market where you can discover local flavors, including fruits, vegetables, spices, and Greek specialties.
Climb to the top of Kastella Hill to enjoy panoramic views of the port and the city of Athens. Explore the neighborhood’s picturesque alleys and discover its neoclassical houses and charming taverns.
The Orthodox Church of Agia Triada
This beautiful Orthodox church from the early 20th century is a stunning example of neo-Byzantine architecture. Don’t miss its frescoes and sacred icons during your visit.
This small port is a real gem, with colorful boats, whitewashed houses, and seaside restaurants.
Enjoy a fresh seafood meal or a drink on the terrace while taking in the view of the sea and the peaceful atmosphere.
Mikrolimano is also known for its lively nightlife, with bars and clubs open until the early morning.
The Hellenic Maritime Museum
Located near the Zea marina, this museum traces the naval history of Greece from antiquity to the present day. It features a wide range of objects, ship models, uniforms, and temporary exhibitions
on specific maritime themes.
The Municipal Theater of Piraeus
This historic theater, which opened in 1885, is an architectural masterpiece that hosts theatrical performances, concerts, and cultural events throughout the year.
The Freattyda to Marina Zea Coastal Path
Take a peaceful walk by the water along the coastal path that connects the Freattyda district to the Zea marina. You’ll pass by charming café terraces, equipped beaches, and panoramic viewpoints of the sea and neighboring islands.
Discovering the Greek Islands from the Port of Piraeus in Athens
The Port of Piraeus is not only a bustling neighborhood with plenty of attractions to explore, but it’s also the gateway to the mythical Greek islands. These islands have names that conjure up images of paradise-like beaches and charming white and blue villages, such as Hydra, Poros, Aegina, Moni, Mykonos, and Spetses.
Many cruises depart from Piraeus to these islands, and Captain Ulysses highly recommends three:
- A day cruise to Hydra, Poros, and Aegina
- A day cruise to Agistri and Aegina
- A day excursion to Mykonos
To reach the Port of Piraeus from the center of Athens, you have several options:
- 🚇 Metro: Take Line 1 (green) from Monastiraki station to Piraeus station, which takes approximately 20 minutes.
- 🚌 Bus: Several bus lines, including bus X80 from Syntagma Square, connect the center of Athens to the Port of Piraeus, and the journey takes around 30 to 40 minutes.
- 🚕 Taxi: A taxi ride between the center of Athens and Piraeus usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, and the fare varies between 15 and 25 euros depending on traffic and the time of day.