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Ancient History of Piraeus Unearthed During Metro Construction

Pireaus metro
Ancient History of Piraeus Unearthed During Metro Construction. Credit: Prime Minister GR / Twitter

The ancient history of Piraeus was unearthed during the construction of the city’s metro. Today, the decoration and architecture of the ”Dimotiko Theatro’’ station is entirely inspired by water. Inside the underground station, the whole story of water unfolds and its significant importance is highlighted.

The Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni spoke about the doctrine of the harmonious coexistence of archeology and the Metro. Its principle respect is for archaeological finds without them being a brake on the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects.

During the excavation research, which took place on the construction phase of the three new metro stations, archeologists uncovered 150 structures related to ancient water systems. They were characteristic of the ancient city of Piraeus. In addition, they came to the more than 345 wells and 388 tanks already found in earlier excavations in the city.

According to the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the total area archaeologically controlled by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Piraeus and Islands in 5 Stations and 7 Ventilation Shafts, approaches 30,000 sq.m. The team carried out the rescue excavations on a total surface of 7,500 sq.m. The excavation work was carried out under permanent archaeological monitoring, as well as the opening of the 7.6 km of the train passage tunnel.

In accordance with the provisions of the archaeological law, the Ministry of Culture and Sports asked the Attica Metro to implement a permanent exhibition on the water supply system of the ancient city of Piraeus at the “Dimotiko Theatro” station. The challenge was particular for the Ephorate of Antiquities. In essence, the curators had to integrate the museum exhibition into a crowded and bustling space.

The central idea was also the starting point for the composition of the museological concept. “The connection of water management with the historical and social development of the city of Piraeus from the Classical period to Late Antiquity”.

metro station Piraeus dimotiko theatro
Piraeus new metro station “Dimotiko Theatro”. Depiction of water added into wine prior to serving, during ancient Greek symposiums. credit: Vasiliki Chletsi / Greek Reporter

Rare archaeological exhibition decorates metro station

An archeological exhibition decorates the station as well as the center of the city of Piraeus. This can act as a starting point for the interconnection – through cultural routes – of the residential and fortified remains. All are visible in the open archaeological sites of the modern city, creating a dynamic nexus of culture.

The exhibition together with the Metro, contribute to the substantial upgrade of the quality of life of the city’s inhabitants.

While speaking at the inauguration of the three new metro stations in Piraeus, Mendoni stated the following:

The long historical duration of the Greek civilization – in time and space – has as a consequence, the activities of the modern era intersecting with the material testimonies of the past preserved underground.”

Lina Mendoni
Metro Station Piraeus. Credit: Ministry of Culture and Sports

She added: ”Especially in the case of a large area or the wide geographical distribution of public utility infrastructures, the meeting, between the works of today and the tangible evidence of history, becomes almost unavoidable.”

Mendoni continued by highlighting that archaeological research and development of any modern city can go hand in hand. “It’s our constitutional obligation and institutional duty to ensure the conditions and take the appropriate measures, so that the development and progress of modern man coexists with the valuable – for the development and well-being of society – capital of the cultural heritage.”

She added that “Cultural heritage is the most vivid illustration of the evolutionary path of a people and a place. It creates high added values… does not tarnish the development perspective of our country (and) is a comparative advantage and a multiplier of our economic and social progress.”

Piraeus will be an important transport hub

The new Piraeus station will also be an important transport hub, as it connects metro lines 1 (overground former ISAP line to Kifissia) and 3, the port, the suburban Proastiakos Railway and the tram network. This allows passengers to transfer from one mode to the other.

Trains will run from Dimotiko Theatro to Doukissis Plakentias in northeast Athens every four minutes from 7:30 to 11:00 am. Then every four minutes again from  1:30 pm to 5:30 pm. They will pass  every nine minutes (down from ten minutes) between 10 pm to 12:20 am. Trains to the airport will run every thirty-six minutes.

The earliest trains will start running from Dimotiko Theatro and Doukissis Plakentias at 5:30 am. In addition, the will join the stations Egaleo and Monastiraki toward Doukissis Plakentias and from Ethniki Amyna toward Dimotiko Theatro.

The last trains from Sunday to Thursday will leave Dimotiko Theatro at 11:59 pm and Doukissis Plakentias at 12:03 am.

On Friday and Saturday, the city will extend the train schedules  until after midnight. The last trains will therefore depart at 1:06 am from Dimotiko Theatro and at 1:10 am from Doukissis Plakentias.

The last trains from Syntagma Square depart at 12:23 am on all days from Sunday to Thursday and at 1:30 am on Friday and Saturday nights.

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