Kerameikos was the area used as the cemetary of ancient Athens from the 9th Century BC through Roman times. It was just outside the city gates (which are included in the area) along the Sacred Way.
Admission to most major sites of Ancient Athens are available from a single 12 euro ticket.
Kerameikos was the big important cemetery in Ancient Athens where (only) important ancient athenians were buried. It is named after Keramos that was the hero of potters (you will see many of them here) and son of god Dionysus and godess Ariadne. Kerameis is also the name “potters” in greek and in ancient era they were many of them at this site. The cemetary was located just outside the city gates and was used from the 11th century BC until about the late roman period.
Many visitors miss this place although it is included in the Acropolis ticket. It’s a pity because it’s more peaceful than the Acropolis and you can enjoy it more walking among the ruins and also visit the small museum with exhibits like sculptures, pottery and pillars. You can also walk along the street of tombs and admire some old tombstones. Many of them are just copies but you can see the original ones inside the museum. The highlite inside is the marble bull (pic 3) that was the grave of Dionysus of Kolitos.
The Kerameikos site was founded in 1861 during the construction Pireaus avenue (that leads down to Pireaus). It is open daily 8.00-19.30 (October to march till 15.00). The entrance fee is only 2 euro but also included at the Acropolis ticket (12 euro)
Kerameikos - the biggest and most important necropolis in Athens stretches along Ermou Street, near the junction with Pireos Street.
Kerameikos is named after Keramos, son of Dionysios and Ariadne, hero of potters. The area was used continuously for burials from the twelfth century BC for a thousand years.
There is a small museum to the left of the site entrance with pottery, sculptures and right next to it is a collection of pillars which were grave markers.
The Kerameikos doesn't offer for me very much. When I visiting some place, I want to see and get feelings ... Kerameikos doesn't offer me all this, ... sorry! :(
Of course I haven't be sorry, that I was in there. There was museum, where you can see the nice pottery, and finds from the excavations. When you walking in there, you can see the street of tombs with some beautiful grave monuments ...
You can visit the Kerameikos with the Acropolis ticket. Prices look from my Acropolis tip.
Most of the monuments of the Street of thombs are dated back to 4th century BC. some monuments depict stories and are actual illutrations of goddesses lives. The cemetery is located in a beautiful part of the city so it worths the visit along and with the view of the Athens around.
(You will need about an hour here plus about 30 min for the museum located on the territory of the cemetery)
I don't know why someone on this site listed Kerameikos as an "off the beaten track" activity - it is right next to Thiseio subway station and really quite centrally located, especially if you're on your way to the Acropolis. Kerameikos is so named because it was the area of the city where the ceramic makers lived. Actually, it was originally where the ceramic makers had their workshops and eventually became the district in which they lived. It is possible to enter the site (I think I saw tourists inside) but I was there fairly early and wasn't able to go inside. Nevertheless, there are beautiful views ideal for taking pictures.
Last time when i was with sister to Athens i didn't dare to drag her here as she isnt into history at all. But Marit had never been to Athens and we were able to see th Acropolis later in the day as the meeting point was at its bottom.
So we went to this place which used to be a burial site. The people from Athens buried there people here, some more eloborate then the others as the stones will show you. This place was outside the city. On this archeological site you will also see the remains of the gate into Athens.
Kerameikos was named after the community of the potters (kerameis) who occupied the whole area along the banks of river Eridanos.
The walls of Athens divided the area into two sections. The wall had two gates, Dipylon and the Sacred Gate, placed at the outset of the two most important processional roads of Athens, the Panathenaic Way which led to the Acropolis, and the Sacred Way which led to Eleusis. Outside the city walls, along the sides of both roads lay the official cemetery of the city, which was continuously used from the 9th century BC until the late Roman period.
It was in this area that the roads to Athens from Piraeus, Eleusis, Boeotia and Plato's Academy converged. The road from Plato's Academy led up to the Dipylon while the lera Odos (or Holy Way) from Eleusis led up to the lera Pyli, 478 BC (Sacred Gate). This gate was protected by two square towers and had a courtyard divided into two parts, one of which was occupied by the bank of the river. The Dipylon was the greatest and most official gate of the city of Athens, also constructed in 478 BC. It had two passageways that gave access to an internal courtyard with four towers erected at its corners. From this gate started the Panethenaic procession, the most important festival of ancient Athens, following the Panathenaic Way that led up to the Acropolis. Between the two gates stood the Pompeion which was the building from which the Panathenaic Procession used to set out.
The Pompeion (5th century BC) was a spacious building with a peristyle courtyard, used for the preparation of festival processions. Sacral items used at the Panathenaic procession were kept at the Pompeion. The Kerameikos cemetery extended beyond the Dipylon Gate. Its most interesting section was the Street of Tombs (Odos ton Tafon), flanked on either side by the tombs of wealthy Athenians.
The Pompeion, a huge building next to the Dipylon, used to be an important storage space for costumes, and a dressing room for the processions that were organised through Athens.
The most important ones were the Panathinaic Games, that were helt once in the four years. This procession started at the Dipylon gates, and went over the Agora, all the was up to the Acropolis.
The Pompeion used to be richly decorated, with paintings and statues of poets and philosophes, like Socrates.
The old Pompeion was destroyed in 88 B.C.. Hadrian (again Hadrian) built a new one, but finally this one was destoyed too in 267 A.D. Nowadays you can see the remainings of both the buildings. Again you need some imagination, but it´s worth the effort.
The Dipylon in ancient days, was the most important gate of all fifteen of Athens. The Dipylon gate was known as the mainentrance to the city.
From this gate, a wide road leaded directly towards the agora. Towards the other side it leaded towards Piraeus and the Academia of Plato, 7 km´s away.
The gate itself replaced an older gate that was built in 470 B.C. The current gate was built in the 4th century B.C. It covers a huge area of 40x20 metres. There were two gate in the front that were defended by two large towers. When you come through these gates you enter a huge innersquare and finally there are two other gates that used to give you full access to the city of Athens.
You really need some imagination to see these gates and towers, because there is not much left of these buildings. But the idea that at this very place, the mainentrance of such an important and great city used to be, makes it impressive anyway.
When you enter the area, at your lefthandside is the part of the ancient graveyard. This has been a graveyard for centuries, starting in the 12th century B.C. From this moment on, lots of different burial methods have been used, which you can all discover here when you take a good look.
Starting in the 12th century B.C. the burial method were simple. The deads were buried in a hole in the ground that was covered with a huge stone.
From the 10th century on the people started to cremate their deads, putting the ash in huge, so called, Dipylon urns (named after the location...).
In the 7th century B.C. there were dug huge holes to put more bodies in, and afterwards (when there was no space enough anymore) there were made hills to cover the deads. A famous hill at Kerameikos is the grave of the Spartans, situated behind the church that divides the area.
Finally in the 5th century B.C. the most famous part of Kerameikos was started: the using of memorial stone. There are several monument to be found, even though they are all copies of the originals, that are kept in the National Museum.
From 307 B.C. on these monuments were forbidded by the government of Demetrios. From this moment on the only thing that was allowed was a little pillar, called Kioniskos. These Kioniskoi are to be found behind the museum, close to the entrance, at your lefthandside.
The area of Kerameikos, situated to the West of Monastiraki square, is not a famous, but a wonderful piece of ancient history.
The area consists of two parts: one part is the ancient Greek graveyard of Kerameikos, the other part, at the eastside, is named Dipylon. This part used to be the mainentrance to the city of Athens.
The area is free to visit when you already have bought your ticket to the Acropolis or the Agora´s. And you really should go here, because it has some great attractions.
The last time I visited Keramikos was with highschool in the early 90s. Back then we were more interested in the turtles and frogs that find shelter in the site! Well, that makes it a place to observe the fauna and flora of Athens. Spring is by far the most appropriate season: wildflowers grow there and the scent is intoxicating. In summer the grass is dried up. The ancient river Iridanos is also found in the site. I visited the site again in early March 2005. Such a serene place... Entering from Ermou street (you have a panoramic view of the site from there) on the left you see the small renovated museum. There are kept fids from the site plus the furenary monuments (outside you'll see replicas) In the Tomb's pathway you'll see the most important furenary monuments. On its end you'll notice three small hills: tomb mounds of the archaic period. You'll also see the walls of Dipylon (one of the city's most important gateways) and the foundation of the Pompeion, a building used for the preparations of the great Panathinea procession. This cemetery was for the "high society" of ancient Athens. Unfortunately almost no trace of the section that was reserved for public figures, "Dimosio Sima" remains. Among others Pericles, Solon and Lycourgos were buried there... For more details and photos check out my new travelogue "Keramikos"
The biggest and most important necropolis in Athens stretches along Ermou Street, near the junction with Pireos Street. One can see the ruins of the fortified enclosure with its two main gates, the Iera Pyli (Sacred Gate) and the Dipylon, public buildings, impressive civilians graves and military tombs. The Kerameikos archaeological site also has a museum showing finds from the excavations.
Next to Gazi, between Ermou street and Pireos street, don't miss to visit the oldest cemetery of ancient Athens (since the 12th century BC!).
Kerameikos, its name, is an interesting place, you can see there Dipylon, a part of the wall of Themistocles, the Pompeion, the sacred gate, the marble bull and, of course, the Archaeological Museum (at the photo: a statue of Pamphili -she sits on a chair- and Dimitrias, end of 4th c. BC).
The exhibits of the museum are displayed in chronological order.
That seemed to be something i want to see, i like old special cemitaries.
I packed my little bag in the second day and went to a long walk which brought me to this site. The ancient cemetery of Athens.
Everything was quiet there... too quiet... It felt like something was wrong... yes i felt right about it... it was closed ! closed ? i asked the Lady i've seen there inside, yes she said closed, for a year.
Only after a few days there i realized that everything in Athens was Either closed or (mostly) under construction...
Oh well, i wasn't about to get upset, although in this specific case i was quite dissapointed.
So check carefuly about it before you go there.
However Just a few words about this place, Kerameikos was named after Keramos, The son of Dionysios & Ariadne, hero of potters. The area was used continuously for burials from the twelfth century BC for a thousand years.