LANDMARKS

LOCATIONS WE TRAVEL

You don't need to get on a ferry to escape the bustle of the Greek capital. Just 10 miles south of the city (typically a 30-40 minute drive) you will find a place where urban sprawl gives way to an idyllic palm-fringed setting. The Athenian Riviera (Athens Riviera) is the coastal area in the southern suburbs of Athens, Greece from Piraeus to Sounio. It is located about 16 km (9.9 mi) from downtown Athens stretching from the southern suburbs of Athens to the southernmost point of Attica, Cape Sounio.

Sun, sand, and sea go hand-in-hand with the ancient ruins of Athens. Experience good food, great beaches, and all-around good living along the beautiful Athens Riviera. 

Take the opportunity to swim, relax at a waterfront café, walk along the picture-perfect pedestrian streets and the marinas, exercise your favorite water sport, shop in one of the area’s modern shopping centers, dine by the sea or entertain yourself in one of the coastal avenue’s buzzing clubs –the young people’s favorite choice– that has actually brought a touch of Mykonos in town! Summer in the city doesn’t sound that bad after all, does it?!

Ancient times


Piraeus has been inhabited since the 26th century BC. In ancient Greece, Piraeus assumed its importance with its three deep-water harbors, and gradually replaced the older and shallow Phaleron harbor, which fell into disuse. In 493 BC, Themistocles initiated the fortification works in Piraeus and later advised the Athenians to take advantage of its natural harbors' strategic potential instead of using the sandy bay of Phaleron.

After the second Persian invasion of Greece, Themistocles fortified the three harbors of Piraeus and created ship houses; the Themistoclean Walls were completed in 471 BC, turning Piraeus into a great military and commercial harbor. The city's fortification was further reinforced later by the construction of the Long Walls under Cimon and Pericles, with which secure port's (Piraeus) route to Athens main city. Meanwhile, Piraeus was rebuilt to the famous grid plan of architect Hippodamus of Miletus, known as the Hippodamian plan, and the main agora of the city was named after him in honor. As a result, Piraeus flourished and became a port of high security and great commercial activity, and a city bustling with life.

During the Peloponnesian War, Piraeus suffered its first setback. In the second year of the war, the first cases of the Athens plague were recorded in Piraeus. In 404 BC, the Spartan fleet under Lysander blockaded Piraeus and subsequently, Athens surrendered to the Spartans, putting an end to the Delian League and the war itself. After the reinstatement of democracy, Conon rebuilt the walls in 393 BC, founded the temple of Aphrodite Euploia and the sanctuary of Zeus Sotiros and Athena, and built the famous Skeuotheke (arsenal) of Philon, the ruins of which have been discovered at Zea harbor. The reconstruction of Piraeus went on during the period of Alexander the Great, but this revival of the town was quashed by the Romans who captured and totally destroyed Piraeus in 86 BC. The destruction was completed in 395 AD by the Goths and Piraeus was led to a long period of decline which lasted for fifteen centuries. During the Byzantine period, the harbor of Piraeus was occasionally used for the Byzantine fleet, but it was very far from the capital city of Constantinople.

In Vouliagmeni ruins of the Temple of Apollo Zoster have been excavated and can be viewed inside the public Astir Hotel beach. According to legend, when Leto was about to give birth to Apollo and Artemis, she fled writhing in pain to Delos. Other remnants of early human habitation found in the Riviera include Neolithic and Bronze Age building foundations, and a 5th-century BC outpost.

In ancient times, Glyfada was a deme known as Aixone (Αἰξωνή). Today, Glyfada is packed with some of the capital's best-known nightclubs, upscale restaurants, and shops. It could be argued to be one of the most "Americanized" of Athenian municipalities since an American airbase was located in nearby Elliniko until the early 1990s.

The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion was built during 444–440 BC, is one of the major monuments of the Golden Age of Athens. It is perched above the sea at a height of almost 60 meters. The Sounion Kouros, discovered in 1906 in a pit east of the temple alongside fragments of other statues, was probably one of a number of votive statues dedicated to Poseidon which probably stood in front of the god's sanctuary. The archaic temple was probably destroyed in 480 BC by Persian troops during Xerxes I's invasion of Greece. After they defeated Xerxes in the naval Battle of Salamis, the Athenians placed an entire captured enemy trireme (warship with three banks of oars) at Sounion as a trophy dedicated to Poseidon. The temple of Athena Sounias at Sounion was built in 470 BC, replacing an older building of the 6th century. Its architecture was unusual inasmuch as it had a colonnade on the southern and eastern, but not on the western or northern sides, a peculiarity mentioned by Vitruvius.