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Archaeological site of Eleusis

In the archaeological site of Eleusis many distinct architectural phases can be seen.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1821 - )

    1882 Excavation works began.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1821)

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)

    395 AD The sanctuary was in use for more than 1000 years, until it was destroyed by the Visigoths.

  4. Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)

  5. Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)

  6. Classical era (478-323 BC)

  7. Archaic era (800-479 BC)

    Around 600 BC Eleusis was subjugated by the Athenians and flourished during the classical and Roman periods.

  8. Geometric era (-1100- 800 BC)

    From local sunctuary, it becomes pan-Hellenic.

  9. Prehistory (-1100 BC)

    The first archaeological findings in the area probably belong to the Middle Helladic period (18th- 17th century BC)

What I can see

In the archaeological site of Eleusis many distinct architectural phases can be seen. After the entrance, on the right of the visitor, follows a paved courtyard of the Roman times, where the faithful gathered to honour Artemis Propylaea and Poseidon Patroos. The podium to the right of the entry is the only preserved part of the temple. To the left of it, streets from Megara and the harbour ended. Two Roman arches were as well situated there having following inscription: “All Greeks (offer to) the two goddesses and the emperor.” Behind the arches were buildings of daily needs. The Roman fountain and the entrance to the sanctuary through a Doric portico of the Roman times, similar to that of the Athenian Acropolis, also stand out. The Propylaea had five entrances, of which the left one was commonly used, as seen from the wear on the threshold. To the left of the portico is a well, which is called “Kallichoron Shaft”, named according to the belief in the classical era that the goddess Demeter, while arriving in Eleusis, sat right there. Furthermore, there are small Ionic porticos of the Roman era and the processional road leading to the Telesterion, which the uninitiated people were not even allowed to approach. On the right is the sanctuary of Pluto (Ploutoneion). The rock on the right, at the end of the procession road, could be the “sullen stone”, which is the entrance to the cave that leads to the underworld.

What I can't see

Nowadays, Eleusis is a deprived city, mainly due to pollution. The greatness of the ancient past is directly in contrast with the industrial city. It is located in the largest meadow of Attica (Thriasio) and hence why in ancient times Demeter, goddess of agriculture and fertility, was especially worshipped here. The sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone was famous throughout Greece. The known “Mysteries of Eleusis” were made in their honour and were related to fruiting, happiness and life after death. The Eleusinian Mysteries were secret sacred acts (the “Minor” were taking place every spring and the “Big” every autumn), disclosure or mockery of which was punished eavily, even by death. The ceremony of the mysteries took place in the Telestirion, and it was spectacular with invited priests and leaders of cities. The only preserved part of the Telestirion is the foundation, but the excavation has shown that there are 4 other older buildings in deeper layers, starting from Mycenaean times. The building had six entrances, 42 columns and could accommodate 3,000 spectators. It probably had no windows, and it was ventilated by an opening in the roof (opaion) and lit by torches. In the sanctuary, there was a large number of buildings, of which only the foundations are preserved today.


Koutsaftis F., (2000), Αγέλαστος Πέτρα, [Mourning Rock], (documentary), F. Koutsaftis ΕΚΚ,

Last visit: 25/7/2015

Papaggeli Κ., (2012), Ελευσίνα, [Archaeological Site of Eleusis], Ministry of Culture,

Last visit: 25/7/2015

Foka Ι., Valavanis P., (1994), Περίπατοι στην Αθήνα και την Αττική, τόποι, θεοί, μνημεία [Strolls in Athens and Attica, places, gods, monuments], Kedros

Camp J., (2001), The Archaeology of Athens, Yale University Press, New Haven and London