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This is an orthodox church dedicated to Saint Nicholas (270-346), a greek bishop of Myra that became saint. He was supposed to put coins in the shoes who left them out for him, and many claim that this secret gift-giving made him a model for Santa Claus. He celebrates on December 6 when a big mass takes place in Piraeus with officials coming here as Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and merchants, so he is well connected with Piraeus.
The church was built in late 19th century (1889-1903) designed by the architecture Ioannis Lazarinos who also built the beautiful municipal theatre. Lazarinos was from Hydra island and built the church at district were most of the people from Hydra were living at that time and became the epicenter of all sailors.
Unfortunately the church was closed during my last visit so I could take any pictures of the interior, there are many beautiful paintings but also work of the famous sculptor from Tinos I.Chalepas.
Written Feb 24, 2013
Address: Agiou Nikolaou 3, Piraeus
The Hellenic Naval Museum is located on a beautiful location at the end of Marina Zea. The cafés outside were packed with people and the square in front of the museum was full of small kids playing football. I walked inside and realized there was no one else there!
The Museum was founded in 1959 as Naval Museum of Piraeus and was originally hosted in another much smaller neoclassical 3 story building. The modern building has semicircle shape, has 10 halls in a row and was built upon the ancient walls of Piraeus.
Just opposite the entrance I saw part of the ancient wall (pic 2) along with some ancient pyramidal stone anchors and other archaeological finds from the area of Zea or the bottom of the harbor.
To the right is the hall of prehistoric times and classical antiquity with many scale models of triremes and other ancient greek boats. Pic 3 is Olympias (scale 1:10), an athenian trireme of 500BC that reconstructed in full original scale by the greek navy in 1987 and performed many experimental voyages within the Saronic Gulf.
Pic 4 shows my favorite item in the museum, Papyrela, an experimental vessels of papyrus (!), constructed in Corfu (1987) for experimental voyages in the Aegean Sea, similar to those of the Mesolithic era (8000 BC)
Then I walked back and check the rest of the halls (4 to 10) where you actually see the nautical history of Greece, from byzantine era to the greek revolution against the Ottomans (1821-29), modern Greece (1830) to Balkan Wars (1912-13) and WWII. Apart from numerous scale models you can see old maps and atlases (there’s one from 17th century on display), many paintings (19th and 20th century), guns, flags and nautical instruments. There is also a video screen, I watched for 10 minutes(it was in greek) a documentary about balkan wars.
Hall 9 is dedicated to the greek Merchant Marine, greeks were traditionally experts at sea trade, greek-owned merchant fleet has the first position all over the world.
Hall 10 is about traditional boatbuilding.
At the end is a small gift store and the exit but also an important library which features books and rare editions of naval maps, 8000 photographs etc.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 9.00-14.00
The entrance fee is 4 €, reduced admission 2 €
Updated Feb 24, 2013
Address: Akti Themistokleous, Freattys, 18537 Piraeus
Bay of Zea is one of the three natural harbors of Piraeus, second in size after the large main port.
It has the same name in Ancient times when it was the largest naval port not only in Athens but all over Ancient Greece, a place (along with Munichia port) where Themistocles built his famous Athenian fleet. It may sound weird that the Athenians didn’t use the main port (Cantharus in ancient times) but the hill of Munichia was provided Zea with more safety (same goes for Munichia port). After the Ottoman occupation the bay was called Pasalimani (pasha's port in turkish), a name that was officially used until recently but even today many locals use it.
Zea is one of the largest marinas in Mediterranean sea. Locals stroll around enjoying the sun and watching the luxurious yachts but I like the fact you can see some noble boats too. I noticed a lot of families but also young people drinking beers, there are many benches facing the water, I liked the picture of people standing there with a book in their hands…
It’s a nice place surrounded with numerous cafes, restaurants and bars. Opposite the marina is Kanari square where you can see the clock (pic 2) and choose one of the numerous cafes and restaurants. There’s also a large super market.At one end of the marina you can visit the Hellenic Naval Museum that houses a nice collection of boats (scale models).
Updated Feb 24, 2013
Walking along the waterfront at Akti Miaouli I decided to turn into Deyteras Merarchias street, a 550m long street that leads directly to the second harbor of Piraeus (Zea, known also as Pasalimani).
In the middle of this street is a large square that houses a playground for kids but also some monuments, statues, the evangelical church of Piraeus. The square used to host a monument of the Unknown Sailor but was removed after the renovation of the square in 1968 when they changed the shape of the square to create the avenue that connects Pasalimani with the main port of Piraeus.
Not far from the square is also the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus.
There seem to be 4 different parts of the square that is called Terpsithea in total but its 4 smaller parts have different names, I saw a sign only at one of them. Konstantinos Karamanlis square (pic 1) houses a statue of Panagiotis Vlachakos (pic 2), a commander of the Navy who was born in Piraeus in 1964 and died in islets Imia in 1996 during a military crisis between Greece and Turkey.
Opposite the square at Glasthonos street I noticed the Greek Evangelic church of Piraeus (pic 3), the mass in spanish every Tuesday at 7pm, in greek Sundays at 10.03am.
I walked backed at the other side of the square where I saw another statue (pics 4-5) showing Iro P. Konstantopoulou, a 17year old girl that executed by Nazis during WWII (september 9, 1944). She took part at the national resistance as a member of National Liberation Front (EAM), a powerful resistance movement that was organized by left parties (mainly the greek communist party). I remember her from school books, she was always among the heroic kids of WWII (as Anna Frank etc) Iro was tortured for days by the Nazis but didn’t speak so they killed her with 17 shots (!) along with 49 other greek rebels at Kaisariani in Athens.
On the pedestal of the sculpture reads in greek (pic 5):
I’m dying now that freedom is rising
But in vain, I give my youth for Greece
Written Feb 23, 2013
Address: Deyteras Merarchias street
The church of Saint Spiridon (pic 1) was built between 1868-1875 on the spot where the old monastery of Saint Spyridon was, a rich monastery that was founded in 1735 over the ruins of the ancient temple of Venus. The monastery was fortified to be protected from the pirates with robust walls, impregnable ramparts and several loopholes. Monks could throw boiling oil to those who tried to enter by force! There was no town at that time and the entire Piraeus peninsula belonged to the monastery. During the greek revolution against the Ottomans (1821-29) greeks captured the hill of Castella while Turks entrenched inside the monastery but the greek forces besieged it with relentless bombardment for 2 months in 1827.
The monastery was dissolved in 1833, the property nationalized and King Otto built a new church in the spot of the ruined temple in 1836 and proclaimed Saint Spyridon patron Saint and Protector of Piraeus. In our days when the church celebrates it gets packed with believers but also the ships whistle throughout the procession. Last time I was there it was a Saturday morning with no one inside the church, I checked a bit the interior and took some photos (pic 3) and then got out where I saw 2 monuments. The first one (pic 4) was erected in 2007 when the holy hand of St Spyridon that is house in Corfu was transferred here for pilgrimage.
The other monument is a bust of Andreas Miaoulis (1769-1835), an admiral who commanded the Greek naval forces against the Ottomans during the Greek war of Independence (1821-1829). When Athens became the capital of Greece in 1834 Miaoulis wanted to build a house hear the sea and the only area without swamps was the area around the monastery. The legends say that contractors refused to build the house because of some dream they had where they saw a monk asking them “why did you close my house?”. Miaoulis did it on his own but never managed to complete it as he died on june 11, 1835.
Written Feb 23, 2013
Address: Agiou Spyridonos 1, Piraeus
This church can easily be visited while you wait for the next ferry as it is located 500m from the train station.
Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) church was started to build in 1939 by the first mayor of Piraeus K.Serfiotis but completed in 1845 when they added tiles from Livorno at the yard. That church had 2 wooden bell towers but the most weird about the church was the fact that it had no windows! In 1872 they added the bell tower in front of the church.
On January 11, 1944, during the bombing of the Piraeus from Allied planes the church entirely demolished causing the death of many locals that had fled there for protection. Some months later a small chapel was built on the spot and stood there for 12 years because the municipal authorities claimed the land. What’s more Greek Archaeological Company informed about numerous buildings that were buried there from the ancient times (emporium, the exchange of goods etc). But the archbishop of Athens Spyrion along the minister of Public Works Georgios Rallis decided to build a new larger church there. The construction of the new church started in 1956. During the excavations several ancient vases, gold coins, mosaics and inscriptions were found so the Archaeological Service decided to pause the excavation but the state and the church were very powerful at that time and the church’s construction continued. Some of the ancient artifacts can be seen today at the side chapel of St.Cyril and Methodios.
The church was completed in 1979 and can hosts more than 3000 people. Unfortunately it’s not allowed to take pictures inside so I couldn’t take some of the marble iconostasis.
On the side of the church is an interesting small chapel, I was surprised to see more people there than in the main church! Finally opposite the church is Themistocleus square, a small park (pic 4) where some old men were feeding pigeons. There I saw the statue of Themistocles (pic 5) the popular athenian politician that created the powerful Athenian fleet that some years later managed to be victorious against the Persian invasion.
Updated Feb 23, 2013
Address: Filonos & Makras Stoas
The area near the port is probably what most visitors see of Piraeus on their way to/from the islands. The ugly buildings that face the port don’t really reflect the city of Piraeus as there are much more interesting corners. Of course the port has its own life with numerous travel agents, dozens of other business around and ok some dodgy waterfront bars but a few streets away you can find some interesting churches and museums that worth a visit if you have some time before you board on your ferry. Walk south along the port, 500m away from the metro station you will see a nice neoclassical building which is N.A.T.(Merchant Seamen’s Fund) the oldest social insurance not only in Greece but in Europe! Opposite this building is Themistocleus square with a small fountain (pic 3) and a statue of Themistocles (pic 4) the popular athenian politician that created the powerful Athenian fleet that some years later won against the Persian invasion.
Opposite the park is Agia Triada church (pic 5) that has a nice temple but also a small side chapel.
Now you can walk up about 400m to Korai square and see the municipal theatre or walk along the waterfront for 700m and visit Agios Nikolaos church.
Another alternative is to walk down to Pasalimani (also known as Marina Zeas), this is a great place to see some impressive yacht or do what we do, have a coffee break or lunch at one of the nice café and restaurants on the waterfront. Naval Museum is also there at the end of the marina,
Now you can start walking back… the metro station is 2km away :)
If you don’t have much time you can just stroll around the port and watch the ferries(slow or fast) that come and go non stop.
Updated Feb 23, 2013
Korai square is the central square of Piraeus and was named after Adamantios Korais (1748-1833, major figure in Greek Enlightnment). In the center there is a statue (pic 2) of Eleytherios Venizelos (1864-1936) a charismatic greek leader in early 20th century.
We visited the square before Christmas and had a small coffee break on a nice café that overlooks the square (Theatro Café). The square has a small playground and also hosts the ugly Town Hall (pic 5), it used to be in much more interesting buildings in the past but its there since 1969.
The building that dominates the square is the Municipal Theatre (pic 5), a neoclassical jewel based on designs of Ioannis Lazarimos. It has a rectangular shape (34 x 45 meters) with a calm façade with four columns in corinthian style. It could host about 1300 people. The main baroque stage is still alive and several original items like the huge chandelier that lit the main hall.
It was a big project that costed a lot of money but also a vision into the future for that era as in 1883 Piraeus had a population of about 27000 and among them only 200 considered educated! The construction completed in 1895 with municipal philharmonic playing music outside and a recitation by poet G.Stratigis!
It was under renovation last year so I couldn’t get proper photos of it bur they say it will be ready at the end of 2013.
Written Feb 19, 2013
Address: Korai square
The construction of this church started in 1878 and completed in 1882 on a land was a donation of Ilias Vavoulas (a merchant from Chios) although there were many conflicts after his death due to controversy between the heirs and the Municipality of Piraeus.
It is dedicated to Saints Konstantinos (the first emperor of Byzantium) and Eleni (his mother). It was a church that was erected for the people from Chios island (by the way the square in front of the church was called Chiotiki square). The area was the heart of the city that was growing fast with numerous schools and the theater around. Travelers approaching the harbor could admire the buildings but unfortunately the next years the port was started to grow without plan and changed the face of the city in a bad way.
The church reminds me a bit of the cathedral in Athens because of the two imposing spiers and the dome and can host about 1200 people. It was designed by architect Ioannis Lazarimos that participated also at the Theatre and Agios Nikolaos church. Although he used classical byzantine form (cross shaped basilica with dome) he added some neoclassical lines that were popular in western europe at that time (Lazarimos studied in Paris and Munich).
It’s been some years since I entered the church but I will return soon to take some pictures of the interior.
Written Feb 19, 2013
Address: Karaiskou 109, Piraeus
Mikrolimano is a picturesque small harbor that is famous for its relaxing fish taverns and cafes at the waterfront. It located near the Neo Faliro where you can also find Karaiskaki football stadium and SEF(Stadium of Peace and Friendship) both homes of the popular Piraeus team OLYMPIAKOS but SEF is an indoor sport arena that is used also to host concerts, exhibitions etc
We took the tram from Syntagma in Athens and we were there after 40’. We walked towards Mikrolimano crossing a small bridge (pic 1) where we saw a lovely small canal with boats and after a while we reached Mikrolimano (pic 4). You can just stroll around and take pictures of the fishing boats or choose one of the numerous restaurants and café that offer nice view next to the harbor (pic 5), later in the evening lot of trendy bars and nightclubs attract lots of young greek people. For better panoramic view you may want to walk up Kastella hill.
Mirkolimano was called Limenas Munichias in ancient times as it was protected by Munichia hill (only smooth SE winds come here) and was the third natural port of Piraeus on the east side of the city facing Saronic Gulf. Like the other harbors was used as naval port of ancient Athens. It had towers on both ends that were connected with Piraeus walls and a chain between the towers. This was also the port that departed politicians in exile or other enemies of Athenian state.
During the middle ages it was called Fanari (Lantern) and after the greek revolution was called Tourkolimano (turkish port) a name that was in use until 1967. For a short period during 20th century it was also called Koumoundourou port due to Koumoundourou mansion there (no longer exist, on the same spot they built the Naval Club of Greece)
Written Feb 19, 2013
1 Review and 82 Opinions Excellent hotel. Nice staff except Harry at the Reception who was unwilling to give us some...