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Piraeus, Ancient Greek: Πειραιεύς, Peiraieús, pronounced [peːrajeús]) is a port city in the region of Attica, Greece. Piraeus is located within the Athens urban area, 12 kilometres (7 miles) southwest from its city center (municipality of Athens), and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf. According to the 2011 census, Piraeus had a population of 163,688 people within its administrative limits, making it the fourth largest municipality in Greece and the second largest within the urban area of the Greek capital, following the municipality of Athens. The municipality of Piraeus and several other suburban municipalities within the regional unit of Piraeus form the greater Piraeus area, with a total population of 448,997. Piraeus has a long recorded history, dating to ancient Greece. The city was largely developed in the early 5th century BC, when it was selected to serve as the port city of classical Athens and was transformed into a prototype harbour, concentrating all the import and transit trade of Athens. During the Golden Age of Athens the Long Walls were constructed to connect Athens with Piraeus. Consequently, it became the chief harbour of ancient Greece, but declined gradually after the 4th century AD, growing once more in the 19th century, especially after Athens’ declaration as the capital of Greece. In the modern era, Piraeus is a large city, bustling with activity and an integral part of Athens, acting as home to the country’s biggest harbour and bearing all the characteristics of a huge marine and commercial-industrial centre. The port of Piraeus is the chief port in Greece, the largest passenger port in Europe and the second largest in the world,servicing about 20 million passengers annually. With a throughput of 1.4 million TEUs, Piraeus is placed among the top ten ports in container traffic in Europe and the top container port in the Eastern Mediterranean. The city hosted events in both the 1896 and 2004 Summer Olympics held in Athens. The University of Piraeus is one of the largest universities in Greece.

Area: 11 km²

Population: Estimate 181,725

Currency

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  • Euro is the Official currency.

Culture

Among the archaeological sites of Piraeus, parts of the ancient Themistoclean Walls and Eetioneia, a mole in the entrance to the harbour, are still preserved in good condition. Excavations in Pasalimani revealed the Skeuotheke, an ancient structure where ship rigging equipment was stored, designed by architect Philon. In Kastella the Syrangion is to be found, which probably served as a sanctuary to the local hero Syrango, and the Cave of Arethusa, both prehistoric. Ruins of the ancient city at the basement of the cathedral of Agia Triada and the ancient Theater of Zea next to the Archaeological Museum, the ancient neosoikoi in Zea, Munichia and Kantharos navy yard, can also be seen.

Language

 Greek is the Official language.

Health

Healthcare in Greece consists of a universal health care system provided through national health insurance, and private health care. According to the 2011 budget, the Greek healthcare system was allocated 6.1 billion euro, or 2.8% of GDP.

Maritime industry

In addition to being the largest marine–based shipping centre of Greece, Piraeus is also the commercial hub of Greek shipping, with most of Greece’s shipowners basing their commercial operations there, largely centred around the street Akti Miaouli. In its capacities as host to Greek shipping, Piraeus has been affected significantly by the various governments of Greece. Following World War II, the Greek government attempted to nationalize the proceeds of the insurance payments given to Greek shipowners who had lost vessels as a result of those vessels having been commandeered by the Allied Forces; the insurance had been provided by Lloyd’s of London and guaranteed by the coalition of the allied forces. Although Greek shipowners ultimately won their case against the Greek government in the British courts, most were uninterested in continuing to base their headquarters in Piraeus, both out of distrust of the Greek government, and because the war had left the greater Athens area in a state of severe poverty. As a result, Greece’s shipowners left Piraeus en masse in favour of operations in London, New York, Alexandria and other major shipping cities.

Landmarks

The city of Piraeus is marked by the diversity of culture among its neighbourhoods. The hill of Kastella is one of the most prosperous and attractive neighbourhoods of the city, with a panoramic view over Athens and the Saronic Gulf. Its elegance comes from its numerous neo-classical mansions, while the Veakeio Theater and a church dedicated to the Prophet Elijah are the most popular buildings. The coastal area of Neo Faliro has been upgraded and is also prominent, with the Peace and Friendship Stadium and the Karaiskakis Stadium, an indoor arena and a football ground respectively lying opposite one another, predominating. Mikrolimano and Bay of Zea, the smaller harbours of the city, attract large numbers of visitors with their picturesque vistas and vigorous nightlife, hosting fishing boats as well as yachts and cruise ships. Kaminia, by contrast, is a working-class neighbourhood which still preserves the traditional look of an earlier period. The Municipal Theater in downtown Piraeus was built in 1885 and remains an impressive neo-classical building. Located across from the Neo-Byzantine Piraeus Cathedral, it forms one of the most renowned landmarks of the city and a popular meeting place.

Transport

Piraeus is served by autobuses, trolleybuses (ILPAP), Proastiakos, the Athens-Piraeus Electric Railways(ISAP) and the Athens Tram. Piraeus station refers to the two railway termini located next to the seaport.

Weather

Under Köppen climate classification Piraeus has a hot semi-arid climate (BSh) according to the Hellenic National Meteorological Service data for the period 1960-2004.