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CruiseDirection - Magazine May 2019

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Athens (Piraeus)

The city was laid out based on plans drawn up by the architect Hippodamus and it was the home of the Athens naval power. Two smaller harbours – Zea and Munichia – were part of the bigger city and they are still active today. Zea is the largest marina in the Mediterranean and Munichia is filled with fishing boats, yachts, and many attractive taverns providing refreshments.  

Above the two harbours is the hill of Kastella that is home to many traditional houses and which provides a beautiful view of the area. High above this location is the Church of the Prophet Elijah and the Veakeio Theatre where summer performances are held. Visitors to this commercial city can stay in one of the many hotels, self-catering establishments, or Bed & Breakfasts depending on their tastes. Finding great food here is not difficult as there are plenty of restaurants in the city that serve traditional Greek fare as well as more international cuisine.

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Why visit Athens (Piraeus) ?

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The largest port in Greece

Piraeus was first settled in 478 BC when its Long Walls were built

The city, whilst being a very important harbour in the Mediterranean, is also filled with a variety of industrial zones, broad streets, spacious squares, parks and tree lined avenues that hold plenty for the visitor to enjoy. There are two ancient theatres in Piraeus as well as excavated fortifications. The Piraeus Museum and the Archaeological Museum both contain fascinating artefacts from the digs that have taken place around the city. There are also funeral stelai, Roman reliefs, and the bronze statues of Apollo, Athena, and Artemis that were found in 1958.  

The Akti Themistokleous contains model ships, maps, and a section of the aforementioned Long Wall for visitors to learn about. There are also objects from the collection of Aristotle Onassis’s yacht ‘Argo’, and model ships that were carved from bones by French prisoners during the Napoleonic Wars all the way through to the Balkan Wars.  

The Municipal Gallery of Piraeus was opened in 1957 and served as the city’s municipal library, getting its own department in 1985. It holds over 837 works by writers from the area and the country as well as 80 sculptures, 156 pieces of artistry by St Lazaros, and the collection of costumes, photographs, theatre material and more that was donated to the gallery by Greek actor Manos Katrakis.  

The Municipal Theatre of Piraeus is a beautiful example of architecture with four Corinthian style columns and pediments. The theatre has undergone extensive restoration after the damage it suffered in the earthquakes of 1981. It hosts cultural events as well as the History Archives of the City of Piraeus, the P Aravantinos Museum of Stage Design and shops on the ground floor. The building itself has been identified as a ‘work of art’ by the Ministry of Culture. Piraeus is close to other sites around Athens, making it a great place from which to visit this historic region.

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