Underground Athens by Athens Underground: Sections Through Soil and History, plus Kerameikos
Ancient treasures such as houses, streets, sanctuaries, cisterns, workshops and aqueducts, as well as more than 50,000 ancient artifacts lie underground...
Athens and it illustrious monuments attract millions of visitors every year; few visitors however are aware that treasures also lie underground, as this is a very ancient city; some of these treasures are on display at a number of Athens Metro (subway) stations, as the works to create the subway network were combined with meticulous and painstaking archeological excavations. The resulting findings exposed through the sections of hospitable Athenian soil include ancient houses, streets, sanctuaries, cisterns, workshops and aqueducts, as well as more than 50,000 ancient artifacts.
A large part of the findings is exhibited in six Athens Metro stations, thus affording the latter the rare dual function of being modern constructions full of movement and technology whilst also serving as museum and stratigraphic sections of their particular localities.
This novel and delightful half-day tour focuses on the exhibits of three modern Athens Metro stations, in combination with an illuminating visit to the open-air archaeological site of Kerameikos and Agora.
The programme is led by a licensed archaeologist-guide, lasts approximately four hours and thirty minutes and is offered round the year.
4 hours and 30 minutes
Due to the closing times of Kerameikos archaeological site as well as to make the best use of daylight, we have two versions of this tour, namely one for the summer period opening times and the other for the winter period, as follows:
Winter schedule: (November-April):
Kerameikos archaeological site (12:00 hrs start) – Monastiraki metro station – Syntagma metro station – Acropolis metro station (18:30 hrs end).
Summer schedule: (May-October):
Acropolis metro station (15:30 hrs start) – Syntagma metro station – Monastiraki metro station – Kerameikos archaeological site (20:00 hrs end).
Points of Interest and programme highlights
Monastiraki metro station: Of particular interest to archaeology buffs will be an underground exhibition showing a portion of the course of Eridanos, a stream repeatedly mentioned in accounts of ancient Athens and which flowed from Lycabettus hill, through the Agora of ancient Athens to the archaeological site of Kerameikos. The stream’s bed was covered with earth for the most part since antiquity, only to be revealed during the Athens Metro excavations.
Syntagma metro station: Excavations here during the construction of the station revealed a sculpture workshop dating from the Classic Era, a Roman bath complex, a cemetery dating back to the sub-Mycenaean and the Byzantine times, a section of the Peisistratian Aqueduct, the ancient road leading from the gates of the walls of Athens to the municipalities of Messogaia and the bed of Eridanos stream.
Acropolis metro station: The first level of the station houses copies of sculptures of the Parthenon, along with findings from the excavations at the station, including items from the daily lives of ancient Athenians as well as artifacts of public life, spanning in all from the 17th century BC to the 12th century AD. A stratigraphic section of and ancient road is exhibited in the second level, whilst in the third level and along the train platforms for a length of 25 m (82 ft) there are replicas of the Parthenon zophoros, the originals of which are in the British Museum.
Kerameikos archaeological site: Kerameikos (meaning ‘the place of the ceramics’) was the main area of production of the famed pottery of Attica. As the region was crossed by a stream and was prone to frequent flooding, Kerameikos was not suitable as a settlement and gradually became a place of burial, becoming in the end the most important necropolis of ancient Athens.
At Kerameikos our licensed archaeologist-guide will be enlightening us about the findings housed in its little museum as well as about the functions of this very important part of ancient Athens.
Meeting points and times
The below two meeting points have been selected conveniently to cover most central Athens hotels, both by foot and via the nearby metro stations:
(A) Winter schedule (November-April):
At 11:45 just outside Monastiraki metro station.
(B) Summer schedule (May-October):
At 15:15 hrs just outside Acropoli metro station.
Please note that all times and durations are indicative and may vary.
Drop off points
(A) Winter schedule:
The tour ends at Acropoli metro station.
(B) Summer schedule:
The tour ends at Monastiraki metro station.
- Licensed archeologist-guide throughout the tour
- Museum and metro tickets
- Gratuities (optional)