A Perfect Trip To Elefsina, the Ancient Religious Site Near Athens

6 75

Just a stones throw away from the heart of the Greek capital, Elefsina has an amazing archaeological site with over 3,000 years of history

Although Elefsina today is an industrial city, it also has an fascinating archaeological site which boasts over 3,000 years of active history. Elefsina stood as a very important city during antiquity, as highlighted by impressive archaeological discoveries.

A trip to Elefsina represents an ideal part of your discovery of the wider Athens area, a safe and appealing region of many features, promising an unforgettable holiday experience throughout the year.

Elefsina was founded in approximately 2000 BC and, along with Athens, Olympia, Delos and Delphi, was one of the five sacred cities of Ancient Greece. The city hosted one of the biggest festivals of ancient times, the Eleusinian Mysteries, in honour of the Greek goddess Demeter.



The worship of the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone was very important to the ancient Greeks, helping generate swift and widespread fame for the city’s sanctuary throughout Greece.

During the time of Athenian statesman and lawmaker Solon (c. 630 – c. 560 BC), the Eleusinian Mysteries were a part of the Athenian festivals, while, during the ensuing time of Athenian ruler Peisistratos, Elefsina was walled to protect it.

During the classical and Roman periods, the city’s glory gradually led to the development of impressive buildings. Over time, as Christianity began to emerge, the city’s sanctuary was gradually abandoned.

Corinthian style column in Elefsina

The archaeological site of Elefsina should be your first stop when visiting the area. Some of the most significant discoveries and monuments include the Sacred Courtyard where worshippers gathered, and from where Iera Odos, the Sacred Way, beginning in Athens’ Kerameikos, concluded; the Temple of Artemis Propylaea; the Large and Small Propylaea; the Telesterion, a great hall and sanctuary designed by Ictinus; the Mycenaean palace; as well as the Kalichoron Well, where, according to legend, the goddess Demeter sat to rest during her attempt to find Persephone, who had been abducted by the god Hades.

The archaeological museum, whose artefacts on display include excavation discoveries such as a large statue of a cistophorus Kore, one of two Caryatids that supported the roof of the Small Propylaea, was renovated for Elefsina’s preparations as the European Capital of Culture in 2023.

The next stop of our excursion is the History and Folklore Museum of Elefsina’s Asia Minor Society, housed in a building that originally served as a refugee centre. The museum, restored in line with its original style from the 1920s, hosts objects from everyday life, costumes, photographs, and letters, all offering insight into the way of life and culture of ethnic Greeks in Asia Minor prior to their displacement.

During Roman times, Roman rulers added new sections to the sanctuary

It is also worth exploring the city to see some of its impressive listed buildings, primarily neoclassical, situated close to the archaeological site and port. They include the residence of Giorgos Demestihas, a member of a prominent old family, on Dragoumi St, serving as a prime example of upper class homes in Elefsina during the early 20th century; the residence of Greek general Theodoros Pangalos, built in the early 19th century; as well as the residence of prominent doctor Vassilis Morfopoulos, which was designed by Anastasios Metaxas, a well-known architect of the period whose projects included restoration of the Panathenaic Stadium for the first modern Olympiad in Athens in 1896, as well as supervision of the Benaki Museum’s renovation.

When your exploration of the city’s history is complete head to one of the plentiful small tavernas found nearby. Also discover the beaches stretching from Elefsina to Megara and Kineta, such as Alopi, a small beach with tamarisks, just beyond Elefsina, next to the Eftaxias Villa, a now-abandoned house that was home to politician and art collector Lambros Eftaxias.

It was the first project to be designed by architect Aris Konstantinidis, and was completed in 1938. Mediterranean Sky, a passenger boat shipwreck, is situated to the east, as are the coves of Loutropyrgos. You can also head further to Neraki beach in the Nea Peramos area, Vardari, Papoutsi in the Megara area, as well as the big Kineta beach, covered with fine pebbles.

A large section of this beach is serviced but there is plenty of space to sit and enjoy the autumn sun. If swimming at this time of the year is not for you, then head to the small port of Pahi for a coffee or food with a view of the two islets, Pahaki and Pahi.

5 119
The old olive press

Besides history and food, Elefsina also has a strong connection with the arts. The city’s significance has been highlighted by its designation as European Capital of Culture for 2023.

READ MORE: Kalogeriko Bridge: A Masterpiece of Epirote Craftsmanship.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024