Eleusis Archaeological Site



Location: 22 km (14 mi) Northwest of Athens

Found: around 1700 BC

Tel. 210 554 6019

Open: 8:30am- 3pm Tue- Sun

Closed: public holidays

Most famous for Eleusian Mysteries


Description of Eleusis Archaeological Site

Eleusis Archaeological site located 22 km (14 mi) Northwest of Athens. For among the many excellent and indeed divine institutions which your Athens has brought forth and contributed to human life, none, in my opinion, is better than those mysteries. For by their means we have been brought out of our barbarous and savage mode of life and educated and refined to a state of civilization; and as the rites are called "initiations," so in very truth we have learned from them the beginnings of life, and have gained the power not only to live happily, but also to die with a better hope.
Cicero, Laws II, xiv, 36


Ancient times
In ancient times, Eleusis was for 2,000 years (1600 BC - 400 AD) one of the five sacred cities, with the Eleusinian Mysteries attracting pilgrims from all over the then known world. The name of the city became even better known thanks to the great tragic poet Aeschylus. 14 centuries followed during which Eleusis fell into obscurity.

It is indicative that writers of the Byzantine era refer to it as a "small village", while shortly before the Turkish occupation the area was deserted by wars, raids and captives. At this time it was colonized by Arvanites. European travelers during the Ottoman rule describe Eleusis as having few inhabitants and many ancient ruins.

Modern Times
In 1827, after the liberation from the Turks and the creation of the first Greek state, Elefsina was a small town of 250 inhabitants, of Albanian origin. In the 1860s, Eleusis began to change its appearance with the construction of new houses and the installation of occasional merchants. Its slow course was accelerated by the construction of the railway line (1884) and the intersection of the Isthmus of Corinth. The decisive year is the 1880s, when industrial development began. The Charilaou Soap Factory (1875), the Titan Cement Industry (1902), the Votrys (1906) and Kronos (1922) distilleries were founded.

Many families of Asia Minor settled in Elefsina after the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922 and created the settlement of Ano Elefsina, doubling its total population and enriching the region culturally and economically.

During the German occupation (1941-1945) strong resistance developed inside the city, in the factories and at the military airport. After the Second World War, workers from all parts of Greece moved to Elefsina to work in the industries of the region. The industrial activity, however, developed anarchically on the antiquities and next to the residential area. Environmental pollution has become widespread. In the 21st century, the era of sustainable development, archaeological history and recent industry have shaped the image of modern Eleusis. Pollution has also been reduced thanks to citizens' struggles.

In 1962, a large house of priests from Roman times was discovered in Eleusis.