Piraeus is a city in the periphery of Attica, Greece. Piraeus is located within the Athens Urban Area, 12 km southwest from its city center, and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf.
Coordinates: 37°57′N 23°38′E
The municipality of Piraeus and several other suburban municipalities within the peripheral unit of Piraeus form the wider Piraeus Urban Area or Greater Piraeus, with a total population of 466,065.
The port of Piraeus is the chief port in Greece, the largest passenger port in Europeand the third largest in the world, servicing about 20 million passengers annually. With a throughput of 1.4 million TEUs, Piraeus is placed among the first ten ports in container traffic in Europe and the top container port in Eastern Mediterranean. The city hosted events in both the 1896 and 2004 Summer Olympics held in Athens.
History of Piraeus
Piraeus, a name which roughly means ‘the place over the passage’, has been inhabited since the 26th century BC. In prehistoric times, Piraeus was a rocky island consisted of the steep hill of Munichia, modern day Kastella, and was connected to the mainland by a low-lying stretch of land that was flooded with sea water most of the year and was used as a salt field whenever it dried up. Consequently it was called the Halipedon, meaning the ‘salt field’, and its muddy soil made it a tricky passage. Through the centuries, the area was increasingly silted and flooding ceased, thus by early classical times the land passage was made safe. In ancient Greece, Piraeus assumed its importance with its three deep water harbours, the main port of Cantharus and the two smaller of Zea and Munichia, and gradually replaced the older and shallow Phaleron harbour, which fell into disuse.
Leisure and entertainment
The city provides a wide variety of entertainment. Piraeus is famous for its tavernas and restaurants, renowned for their cuisine. Most are arrayed along the coasts of Mikrolimano and Piraiki, specializing in seafood and attracting many visitors, including tourists. The nightlife of the city is swinging, with numerous bars and nightclubs. The central avenues of Piraeus, like Iroon Polytechneiou and Grigoriou Labraki offer great opportunity of shopping.
One of the most popular events in Piraeus is the Ecocinema International Film Festival, staged annually in late February. During this event, a number of films are screened at the Atticon Cinema and the Cineac Cinema, both of which are to be found within the city’s Town Hall Square. In the summer, the Maritime Festival and the Piraeus Rock Wave Festival take place, while the Three Kings’ Way Festival marks the beginning of the carnival with all the associated costumes and entertainment.
The Municipal Theater of city has been the center of the arts in Piraeus, hosting a variety of cultural events including theater, dance and music events. The open air Veakeio Theater in Kastella is a popular destination during the summer and hosts concerts, folk music bands as well as Greek and foreign troupes, while the Menandreio Theater, widely known as Delfinario, is popular for hosting variety shows. Village Park, a large multipurpose center, part of the Village Cinemas chain and built in suburban Agios Ioannis Rentis, attracts a large number of people from the whole of Athens offering a diversity of shops, cafes, restaurants, in addition to the twenty cinemas which make it the largest cinema complex in Greece. Next to it, the Allou Fun Park is the latest and largest amusement theme park in Athens filled with rides and attractions, restaurants and pastry shops.
Piraeus is home to several museums and other institutions of great interest within their field. The Archaeological Museum of Piraeus displays objects from the classical antiquity found at the area of Piraeus and the greater coastal zone, typical of the history and culture of the ancient city. The city also houses the Hellenic Maritime Museum with exhibits related to the nautical tradition of the Greek nation, the Historical Museum, the Panos Aravantinos Decor Museum, the Georgios Averof Museum Ship and the Museum of Electric Railways, hosted in the Piraeus station. The Municipal Art Gallery and the Municipal Library, one of the largest in Greece, are also prominent within the culture of Piraeus.