Also known by its Latin name Ceramicus, Kerameikos is an archaeological site in Athens, Greece, which contains the remains an important ancient burial ground as well as a series of famous monuments.
Once home to the city’s potters (its name meaning pottery) Kerameikos developed to also become the site of a cemetery. In fact, some of the oldest graves found at Kerameikos date back to as far as the 3rd millennium BC. The site would serve this dual function for centuries, including under the Romans up to the 6th century AD.
Yet, in addition to the burial aspects of Kerameikos, such as the Street of Tombs where prominent figures were laid to rest, the site also contains remnants of the entrance to ancient Athens. The ancient road called the Hiera Hodos, meaning the Sacred Way, that led to Eleusis began.
Therefore Kerameikos was where the Panathenaic procession or Eleusinian Mysteries, once a great ancient Athenian festival, started its route. The ruins of the staging area for this procession – the Pompeion – can be found at Kerameikos.
Today, the area of ancient Kerameikos is enclosed and access through an entrance on the Ermou Street. Visitors can see the ruins of what was the city wall, including the Sacred Gate and the Dipylon Gate where people entered Athens.
To see finds from the site, such as vases, visit the Kerameikos Museum. The small neoclassical building houses the most extensive collection of burial-related artefacts in Greece, including funerary urns, jewellery and marble sculptures. Standard admission to the museum and archaeological site is 8 euros and Kerameikos is open between 8am and 8pm each day.
Getting to Kerameikos
The metro station’s building, which allowed for many of the archaeological discoveries to be made, also named Keramikos runs on Line 3 and stands adjacent to the Technopolis of Gazi. Alternately, the buses 035, 049, 227, 500, 815, 838 and more stop along the main road nearby.
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