… the home of the worship to Goddess Demeter, a symbol of Mother Nature and thecircle of seasons…..Elefsina…… where history meets the future…
Elefsina (or Eleusis as was the name of the town until recently) a city of 50,000 inhabitants, is renowned for its ancient history as well as for its more recent industrial development. It constitutes the administrative centre of the wider area of Western Attica, just 20km from Athens.
Elefsina resembles an old manuscript. The history engraved on it repeated layers of writing, composing in the centuries’ run a long and enchanting novel. Flourishing settlements, fortifications and spaces of religious worship were developed in this place during the whole antiquity but also in modern times. This historical duration is easily interpreted because of the favourable situation of the town, a vital point from where main road arteries pass and connect Attica to the rest of Greece. At the same time, its harboursecured from the winds in a closed gulf, constitutes an exit of marine communication and a node of transit trade.
Elefsina…… where history meets the future!
In ancient times Elefsina was one of the most important religious centres in Greece, retaining its sacred character over two thousand years and known across the world for the Eleusinian mysteries. The archaeological studies certified that housing in the wider area of Eleusis begins in the 3rd pre-historic century, in the Lower Copper Age (2800-1900 B.C.).
The ‘Eleusinian Mysteries’ (a major religious event) was held each September in order to ask the goddess Demeter for a rich harvest. During the Mysteries, a large procession of worshippers departed from Athens and followed the Iera Odos (‘Holy Road’), covering a distance of 30 kilometres to Eleusis by foot.
Modern-day visitors can admire the hill with its ancient remains and the museum in the city centre. Traces of the Sacred Way which joined Elefsina and Athens can still be seen. Since 1975 the city has been staging the AISCHYLEIA, a major cultural event organized each September and named in honour of the ancient dramatist Aeschylus.
The myth of Demeter
According to Greek mythology Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, abducted Persephone, daughter of the goddessDemeter, and took her down into his kingdom with the intention to wed her. Demeter desperately looked for her for nine whole days until she finally arrived in Elefsina. Here she worked as a governess in the palace of King Keleos, but eventually, when her identity was discovered, she asked that a temple be built in her honour, where she locked herself up for a whole year mourning the loss of her daughter. During these twelve months not a single seed germinated. Much concerned, Zeus sent his messenger Hermes down to Pluto to see if the situation could be resolved. It was finally agreed that Persephone would stay half the year in the Underworld with her husband and the other half in the world above with her mother. When this compromise was reached Demeter allowed the earth to bear fruit again, and this is why even today cereals are known in Greek as “demetriaka”. The best cereal crops have always grown on the Thriasio Pedio – otherwise known as the Plain of Elefsina.
Elefsina archaeological site
02Jan – 31Dec Tue-Sun, 08:30-15:00
Tel.: +30 210 5546019
The systematic excavations of the Eleusinian sanctuary started at the end of the 19th century and continued in the beginning of the 20th century, by the Athens Archaeological Society.
The most important monuments of the site are:
Sacred Court: It was the gathering place of the pilgrims and marked the end of the Sacred Way, which led to Eleusis from Athens. It contained the “Eschara”, a structure dated to the 8th-2nd centuries B.C., with altars for the offerings to the goddesses, and the temple of Artemis Propylaea, dated to the 2nd century A.D.
Greater Propylaea. Doric propylon, a close copy of the central section of the Prolpylaea on the Athenian Acropolis, which were designed by Mnesikles. Dated to the second half of the 2nd century A.D.
Lesser Propylaea: Internal Ionic propylon, dedicated to the goddess by Appius Claudius Pulcher in 54 B.C.
The Telesterion: Large square hall with six entrances, two on each of the three sides, and eight tiers of seats along all of the four sides, where the initiates sat (only their foundations are preserved today). The centre of the hall was occupied by the “megaron”, the adyton of the Eleusenian cult, where only the hierophants (the high priest) was allowed to enter in order to perform the mysteric rites. Several architectural phases are distinguished in the building, dated from the 5th century B.C. until the 2nd century A.D.
Triumphal Arches: They are Roman reproductions of Hadrian’s Arch in Athens, built after A.D. 129.
Callichoron Well: According to the Homeric Hymn, here rested Demeter, when she first came to Eleusis. Around this well the Eleusinian women performed dances during the ceremony in honor of the goddess. Dated to the first half of the 5th century B.C.
Ploutoneion: Sacred retaining wall around a cave where, according to tradition, Plouto, the god of the Underwolrd, appeared. A representation of the annual return of Persephone on earth took place here – dated between the second half of the 6th and the 4th century B.C.
The Mycenaean Megaron: Part of foundations belonging to a rectangular temple with two columns on the longitudinal axis.
Archaeological Museum of Elefsina
The Museum was designed by J. Mousis, and was built in 1889 in order to house the excavation finds. Some of the most important items of the exhibition are:
The Rheitoi relief, Headless statue of Demeter, Marble statue of Antinoos, the Eleusis amphora
02Jan – 31Dec Tue-Sun, 08:30-15:00
1, Iera Odos 19200 ELEFSINA , GREECE
Tel.: +30 210 5546019, 5542470
Getting to Elefsina
Elefsina is linked by the Greece Interstate 8A and the Athens metropolitan freeway (Attiki Odos).
A toll post named after the community is on the westbound lanes of GR-8A.
The town lies at the northern apex of the Gulf of Eleusis.
From Athens to Elefsina (Eleusis)
Metro Station “Thisio” you take the bus to “MEGARA”. You get off at Bus Stop in Elefsina.
From Piraeus to Elefsina (Eleusis)
From “Karaiskaki Square” you take the blue bus number 845. At the end of the route, you change bus and take bus number 862 or 863 or 864.
From Athens Airport “El.Venizelos” to Elefsina (Eleusis)
From the airport you take “Proastiakos” train to “Magoula”. From “Magoula” station you take the bus number 863 to Elefsina.
Athens 20 Km
Eleftherios Venizelos Airport 54 Km (about 35 min)