Piraeus » City Info » History

Piraeus has a long history, which dates back to ancient Greece. The city was largely developed during 5th century BC. Piraeus in olden days was an island. In the late 6th century BC when the peninsula was first fortified by Hippias, the city gained importance as a deep water harbour.

The city was planned by Themistocles and built in the fifth century B.C. Piraeus was a deme of Attica in ancient Greece and was a separate city from Athens. It was Themistocles who built a fortification around Piraeus to guard it against the Persians and to make the best usage of the city’s commercial harbour.

Piraeus was the major Athenian port during the Peloponnesian War because of which it faced a huge collapse where its strong fortified walls were actually tattered. When democracy finally marked its presence, these walls were reconstructed by Conon around 393BC, who also founded the temples of Aphrodite Euploia, the sanctuary of Zeus Sotiros and Athena, and built the famous Skevothiki of Philon, the ruins of which have been discovered at Zea.

Piraeus again faced demolition by the Roman Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Goths & Alaric. The Ottomans occupied the land of Piraeus for a brief period after which the Greek War of Independence took place.

In 1792 & 1825, attempts were made to rehabilitate the Piraeus; but it was not until 1829 when permanent inhabitation of the city actually restarted and came into force. Piraeus became a small town with huts and a few farm-buildings, far away from its glorious past as a prosperous city, and its population consisted mainly of fishermen.

With the creation of Modern Greek state and the proclamation of Athens as the capital in 1832, Piraeus gained development as a port again and became the industrial hub.