As indicated by its name, the ancient Kerameikos was an important center for the production of ceramics. It is traversed by the Eridanos brook, which is still fed by a spring at the foot of the Lykabettos hill. The 5th century BC author Thucydides considered it ‘the most beautiful suburb of Athens’, but for others it was a place of ill repute, populated by wine sellers, money lenders and prostitutes.
The Kerameikos has been excavated only partially – the area is known to have extended 1.5 km from the northwest corner of the Agora towards Plato’s Academy – but the site presents an abundance of monuments.
A 175 m long section of the ancient city wall has been preserved, complete with towers, moat, and two gates: the Sacred Gate and the Dipylon. Inside the city wall are the remains of the Pompeion (the ‘procession building’) and of the enigmatic ‘House Z’ (quite possibly a brothel). The area outside the ancient city wall constituted the principal cemetery of ancient Athens, as witnessed by the many lavishly decorated tombs that belonged to the leading families of the city.
Understanding the plans of the superimposed ancient buildings in the area inside the city walls may not be an easy task, but the Kerameikos is definitely worth a visit. There are good explanation boards, the site is relatively quiet, nicely overgrown, there are tortoises in springtime and the guards are welcoming. The associated Kerameikos Museum has beautiful displays.
The Kerameikos is only a few minutes’ walk from the Theseion metro station and open from 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays to Sundays, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays (extended hours in summer).
Tel. no.: 210 34 63 552