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Kerameikos - The Ancient Cemetery

Located at the end of the popular Ermou Road, where many Athenians and travelers can enjoy their shopping, you will come across one of the hidden gems of Athens.

Kerameikos Cemetery in Athens

The “Kerameikos Cemetery” is not a cemetery in the morbid sense, but one that offers a type of oasis feel about it, with shade under the cypress and olive trees, offering tranquility and peace. It is an part of ancient Athens that is rarely visited by tourists on the same number as those visiting the Acropolis and other temples in the city.

The “necropolis”, is located just outside of the boundaries of the ancient city of Athens, and is in fact the largest and oldest necropolis in the Attica region. The name of the necropolis is taken from the clay (keramos), that was used in ancient times to make funerary objects and vases that were placed near to the deceased.

It is believed that the cemetery was used as a burial site from as early as the 12th Century BC. However. Most of the funerary monuments that you will see today are dated from the 4th Century BC. The monuments in the cemetery are today mainly casts and replicas of originals that are now found in the Kerameikos Museum, as well as the National Archaeological Museum.

At the entrance to the site, one can see the remains of the “Long Walls” which ran all the way down to the port of Piraeus. To the left of the entrance is the museum, where you can see many of the original finds from this site. The path at the entrance leads you to the “Street of the Tombs”, which is situated on the left side. Here the land is lined with plots from wealthy Athenian families.

Athens Ancient Kerameikos Cemetery

During the 6th Century, depending on the size of one's fortune, and vanity, the tombs of the deceased were adorned with statues, vases, and in some cases, small temples or chapels. This was a traditional that was at it's peak during the time of Pericles.

Along the “Street of the Tombs”, you will see several funerary monuments. To the left of the path, you will see a base with a sculptured cresent. This is the “Memorial of Dexileos”, who was the 20 year old son of Lysanias of Thorikos. His son was killed in 394 BC whilst in battle in Corinth.

You will also come across a path on the right that leads to the “Sacred Gate”. This gate was built in the 5th Century BC, as an extension of the “Sacred Way”, and connected Athens and Eleusis. This gate was also used for “Eleusinian and Panathenaic” processions.

The “Academy Road”, which is parallel to the Sacred Way leads one to the “Dipylon Gate”. This was the main gate to ancient Athens, and from where travelers from Eleusis, Evia and Piraeus entered the city. The gate was actually formed by two towers, and was part of the fortification wall that ran around Athens. One of the towers was facing into the city, whilst the other was facing outwards.

During the ancient years, there were many grand funerals held here. It was also here in 431 BC that Pericles is said to have given his famous funeral oration, honouring those who had died during the early years of the Peloponnese War. As it turned out, this speech became much more than a tribute to those who had died. It in fact inspired thousands who were there to enlist in the campaign, which had suffered heavy losses with approximately one third of the Athenian force being completely wiped out.

Useful Information

Opening Hours:
Summer - Daily apart from Mondays from 08:00 - 19:00
Winter - Daily apart from Mondays from 08:30 - 18:00 ( though sometimes earlier )

Entrance Fee / Prices:
8 Euros | Reduced 4 Euros | Is also part of the Multi Ticket for Archaeological Sites in Athens

Location:
The Kerameikos Cemetery is located on Ermou Street, just past the Metro Station of Thisio.


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