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The Piraeus Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum (Open Tues-Sun 8:30am-3pm; 3 euros admission) is at Harilaou Trikoupi 31. This is a very good museum, with fascinating and well displayed material. A statue of Hermes stands in the entry way , dating from the 2nd century AD. In the main hall are fine Neoclassical reliefs of battles with the Amazons from 200 AD and a lion stele from Moschato, 400BC. There are busts of Roman emperors and other Roman sculpture, funerary urns and stelai. In the last room on the lower floor is a gigantic funerary monument from Kalithea with more Amazon battles and struggles with animals, as well as some free standing sculptures from around 400BC.

The upper floor houses 5th and 4th century BC funerary stelai, and an archaic kore (female version of the kouros) in a cylindrical shape from 580BC. The very beautiful Piraeus kouros is on this floor, which is the oldest known large scale hollow cast bronze statute. It was found with the clay filling and iron supports inside in good condition. It is believed to have been a cult statue of Apollo, and may have been made in a northeastern Peloponnesian workshop during the late 6th century BC. Other excellent bronzes form the same cache as the Piraeus kouros include one of Athena, with her helmet adorned with owls and griffins (350-300BC), Artemis with her quiver on her shoulder, and a smaller statue of Artemis. There is a Hellenistic theater next to the museum, the Theater of Zea from the 2nd century BC. The cavea was hewn out of the rock and divided by 14 flights of steps. Around the orchestra is a covered channel.

A nice way to spend time in Piraeus is to go for a walk on the south coast of the Akte peninsula, which is usually deserted. Sunsets over the mountain of Ymittos (Hymettos) and the coast to the east, which lights up the islands of the Saronic Gulf are particularly beautiful. A good place to begin the walk is at the point south of the Naval School. You can get there by bus and walk from there to the Pashalimani in about an hour. The western tip of the peninsula is a restricted naval area. The promontory of Alkimos is the spot where the Marble Lion stood that gave the medieval Pireus its name (Porto Leone and also Porto Draco). This was the lion that the Venetians took to Venice. It was probably fashioned on the island of Dhilos (Delos). West of this promontory are graves of English soldiers and a monument to the Greek admiral Andreas Miaoulis.

After that are quarries, a grave allegedly that of Themistokleous, and a column that marked the south harbor entrance, which was returned to its original place in 1952. Much of the western edge of the peninsula is flanked by the Wall of Konon, which still retains much of its lower courses. It was built from local stone during the 4th century BC, often from blocks cut from the rocks right above it. It is 3 to 3.5 meters thick, with square Towers every 46-55meters. Small tavernas now occupy some of the bases of these towers. Southeast of the Signal Station at the highest point of the peninsula a short stretch of Themistokleous' wall can still be seen.

Apart from Piraeus' main fame as the port of Athens, it is also a heavy industrial town, as well as the commercial center for all of the port related activities.such as banking, import export, and freight handling. It is pre-eminently a utilitarian place, with many of the older more atmospheric buildings demolished during the junta years. Some of its more attractive features are the harbor park three blocks from main harbor; antique and junk shops which sell items of copper and wood, and the Sunday flea market.

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