Kerameikos is one of the 7 archaeological sites in Athens that you can visit with the combined ticket. It is a little known place but with a very important historical relevance, I invite you to discover why.
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What is Kerameikos?
In addition to a cemetery used during Ancient Greece, from the archaeological site of Kerameikos we can highlight the wall of Themistocles, the sacred gate and the gate of Dipylon.
I will tell you more about the wall later, in the meantime let me tell you about the other two very important elements:
The sacred gate of Kerameikos was the beginning of the Sacred Way (they gave it a name easy to remember…), which connected Athens with Eleusis. The Eleusinian mysteries were initiation rites to the cult of the goddesses Persephone and Demeter, celebrated every year and being the most important of Antiquity.
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On the other side (literally speaking), we had the Dipylon Gate. This was the starting point of the Panathenaic procession, also known as the Panathenea. On this occasion, Athena, goddess of wisdom, military strategy and also protector of the city of Athens, was worshipped.
Not only was it a religious celebration, but it was at this time of the year when the Panathinaikos games were held. These were very important sports competitions for the city of Athens, similar to those held in the famous Olympia.
Sadly there is no trace of the stadium used at the time for that purpose, however, very later it was decided to build a new Panathinaiko Stadium in the same place, used among other things to host the first modern Olympics,
As with other archaeological sites in Athens, the Kerameikos cemetery also has its own museum.
Built in 1937 thanks to the plans of H. Johanes and the donation of Gustav Oberlaender and later that of the Boehringer brothers, this museum houses the main findings of ancient Kerameikos.
In this museum you will find from items coming from the Archaic period (9th → 7th centuries BC) to the Roman period; all kinds of sculptures, vases, jewelry, stone writings, marble sphinxes….
The opening hours of the Kerameikos Museum are the same as those of the archaeological site where it is located, not needing another ticket or different entrance to access it.
Ancient quarter of Kerameikos
What today is one of the main archaeological precincts of Athens, and is presented as the cemetery of the ancient city, was formerly known as the potters’ quarter.
The root of the term “Kerameikos” has to do with “ceramics“, those craftsmen settled and formed this neighborhood due to the clay deposits that were found in a stream nearby.
How did it change from being the potters’ quarter to a cemetery?
It was during the famous Medical Wars that the Athenian general Themistocles decided to build a wall to protect both the Greek Agora (formerly the only agora in the city) and other important and central areas of the ancient city.
This wall separated the Kerameikos neighborhood in two, and in this context the part that had been left outside began to be used as a cemetery for the soldiers who died in the battles against the Persians.
It is also worth mentioning that, later and during the Peloponnesian War (the coalition of polis commanded by Athens against the one commanded by Sparta), Pericles had the idea of gathering all the citizens inside the walls.
This way they could protect themselves from the Spartans, yes, but these conditions led to an epidemic that killed a quarter of the population of Athens… In fact, it was this disease that took the life of Pericles himself.
Due to the sudden death of many Athenians, the Kerameikos cemetery is sadly again gaining importance.
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Entrance to the Kerameikos and Museum
The entrance to the archaeological site of the Lykeion costs 8 euros in high season (1 April – 31 October) and 4 euros in low season (1 November – 31 March).
There are also reduced prices (to 50%) for retirees and students from outside the EU, while entrance to the Lyceum is ALWAYS free for Europeans under 25 years of age.
To buy your ticket online, although there is usually NO queue at all in this archaeological site, I recommend you to visit the official website.
Archaeological site opening hours
- The opening hours are from 8:00-17:00
Free admission days for all the public
If your stay in Athens coincides with any of these days, take advantage!
- 6th of March.
- 18th of April.
- 18th of May.
- Last weekend of September.
- 28th of October
- First weekend of everymonth from the 1st of May until the 31st of March.
Holidays in the archaeological site
The archaeological site will be closed on these days of the year:
- 1st of January.
- 25th of March.
- 1st of May.
- Easter Sunday
- 25th of December.
- 26th of December.
How to get to Kerameikos
The archaeological site of the Ceramicum is located between the metro stations Kerameikos (blue line) and Thiseio (green line).