Eleusis (Greek: Ελευσίνα Elefsina, Ancient Greek: Ἐλευσίς Eleusis) is a town and municipality in West Attica, Greece. It is situated about 18 kilometres (11 miles) northwest from the centre of Athens. It is located in the Thriasian Plain, at the northernmost end of the Saronic Gulf. North of Eleusis are Mandra and Magoula, while Aspropyrgos is to the northeast.
Eleusis is the seat of administration of West Attica regional unit. It is the site of the Eleusinian Mysteries and the birthplace of Aeschylus. Today, Eleusis is a major industrial centre, with the largest oil refinery in Greece as well as the home of the Aeschylia Festival, the longest-lived arts event in the Attica Region.
On 11 November 2016 Eleusis was named the European Capital of Culture for 2021.
View over the excavation site towards Eleusis.
Location within the region
|Regional unit||West Attica|
|• Mayor||Georgios Tsoukalas (SYRIZA, Democratic Left)|
|• Municipality||36.589 km2 (14.127 sq mi)|
|• Municipal unit||18.455 km2 (7.126 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||5 m (16 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|• Municipality density||820/km2 (2,100/sq mi)|
|• Municipal unit||24,901|
|• Municipal unit density||1,300/km2 (3,500/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
The word Eleusis first appears at the Orphic hymn «Δήμητρος Ελευσινίας, θυμίαμα στύρακα». Also Hesychius of Alexandria reports that the older name for Eleusis was Saesara (Σαισάρια). Saesara was the mythic daughter of Celeus (king of Eleusis when Demeter arrived for the first time) and granddaughter of Eleusinus, the first settler of Eleusis.
The municipality Elefsina was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following two former municipalities, that became municipal units:
The municipality has an area of 36.589 km2, the municipal unit 18.455 km2.
Eleusis was a deme of ancient Attica, belonging to the phyle Hippothoöntis. It owed its celebrity to its being the chief seat of the worship of Demeter and Persephone, and to the mysteries celebrated in honour of these goddesses, which were called the Eleusinia, and continued to be regarded as the most sacred of all the Grecian mysteries down to the fall of paganism.
Eleusis stood upon a height at a short distance from the sea, and opposite the island of Salamis. Its situation possessed three natural advantages. It was on the road from Athens to the Isthmus of Corinth; it was in a very fertile plain; and it was at the head of an extensive bay, formed on three sides by the coast of Attica, and shut in on the south by the island of Salamis. The town itself dates from the most ancient times.
It appears to have derived its name from the supposed advent (ἔλευσις) of Demeter, though some traced its name from an eponymous hero Eleusis. It was one of the 12 independent states into which Attica was said to have been originally divided. It was related that in the reign of Eumolpus, king of Eleusis, and Erechtheus, king of Athens, there was a war between the two states, in which the Eleusinians were defeated, whereupon they agreed to acknowledge the supremacy of Athens in every thing except the celebration of the mysteries, of which they were to continue to have the management. Eleusis afterwards became an Attic deme, but in consequence of its sacred character it was allowed to retain the title of polis (πόλις) and to coin its own money, a privilege possessed by no other town in Attica, except Athens. The history of Eleusis is part of the history of Athens. Once a year the great Eleusinian procession travelled from Athens to Eleusis, along the Sacred Way.
Eleusis was the site of the Eleusinian Mysteries, or the Mysteries of Demeter and Kore, which became popular in the Greek speaking world as early as 600 BC, attracted initiates during Roman Empire before declining mid-late 4th century AD. These Mysteries revolved around a belief that there was a hope for life after death for those who were initiated. Such a belief was cultivated from the introduction ceremony in which the hopeful initiates were shown a number of things including the seed of life in a stalk of grain. The central myth of the Mysteries was Demeter's quest for her lost daughter (Kore the Maiden, or Persephone) who had been abducted by Hades. It was here that Demeter, disguised as an old lady who was abducted by pirates in Crete, came to an old well where the four daughters of the local king Keleos and his queen Metaneira (Kallidike, Kleisidike, Demo and Kallithoe) found her and took her to their palace to nurse the son of Keleos and Metaneira, Demophoon. Demeter raised Demophoon, anointing him with nectar and ambrosia, until Metaneira found out and insulted her. Demeter arose insulted, and casting off her disguise, and, in all her glory, instructed Meteneira to build a temple to her. Keleos, informed the next morning by Metaneira, ordered the citizens to build a rich shrine to Demeter, where she sat in her temple until the lot of the world prayed to Zeus to make the world provide food again.
During the Greco-Persian Wars, the ancient temple of Demeter at Eleusis was burnt by the Persians in 484 BC; and it was not till the administration of Pericles that an attempt was made to rebuild it. When the power of the Thirty Tyrants was overthrown after the Peloponnesian War, they retired to Eleusis, which they had secured beforehand, but where they maintained themselves for only a short time. Under the Romans Eleusis enjoyed great prosperity, as initiation into its mysteries became fashionable among the Roman nobles. It was destroyed by Alaric I in 396 CE, and from that time disappears from history.
The temple of Demeter itself, sometimes called δ μυστικὸς σηκός, or τὸ τελεστήριον, was the largest in all Greece, and is described by Strabo as capable of containing as many persons as a theatre. The plan of the building was designed by Ictinus, the architect of the Parthenon at Athens; but it was many years before it was completed, and the names of several architects are preserved who were employed in building it. Its portico of 12 columns was not built till the time of Demetrius Phalereus, about 318 BC, by the architect Philo. When finished, it was considered one of the four finest examples of Grecian architecture in marble. It faced the southeast.
The town of Eleusis and its immediate neighbourhood were exposed to inundations from the river Cephissus, which, though almost dry during the greater part of the year, is sometimes swollen to such an extent as to spread itself over a large part of the plain. Demosthenes alludes to inundations at Eleusis; and Hadrian raised some embankments in the plain in consequence of an inundation which occurred while he was spending the winter at Athens. To the same emperor most likely Eleusis was indebted for a supply of good water by means of the aqueduct, the ruins of which are still seen stretching across the plain from Eleusis in a north-easterly direction.
It is indicative that writers of the Byzantine era refer to it as a "small village", and shortly before the Ottoman domination the area was deserted by wars, raids and captives. This era was settled by Arvanites. European travelers during the Ottoman domination described Eleusis as having few inhabitants and many ancient ruins.
In 1827 after the Greek War of Independence, Eleusis was a small town of about 250 inhabitants. By the late 19th century Eleusis changed drastically as new building were erected by the new merchant settlers. Also during that period Eleusis became one of the main industrial centers of the Modern Greek State with concrete factory TITAN, Charilaou Soap Factory as well as the distilleries of Botrys and Kronos being established in the area.
Many Greek families of Asia Minor settled in Elefsina after the 1928 Asia Minor Catastrophe and created the settlement of Upper Elefsina, doubling its total population and enriching the region culturally and economically.
During the German occupation of Greece (1941-1945) strong resistance developed within the city, the factories and the military airport. After World War II, workers from all parts of Greece moved to Elefsina to work in the industries in the region. Industrial activity, however, developed anarchically on the antiquities and next to the residential area. Environmental pollution has taken on large dimensions. In the 21st century, at the time of sustainable development, archaeological history and recent industrial formation shaped the image of contemporary Eleusis. Pollution thanks to citizens' struggles has also fallen.In 1962 a large house of priests of the Roman Empire was discovered.
Today, the city has become a suburb of Athens, to which it is linked by the Motorway 6 and Greek National Road 8. Eleusis is nowadays a major industrial area, and the place where the majority of crude oil in Greece is imported and refined. The largest refinery is located on the west side of town,right beside where now the annual Aeschylia Festival is held in honor of the great tragic poet from Eleusis Aeschylus.
There is a military airport a few kilometers east of Eleusis. Eleusis Airfield played a crucial role in the final British evacuation during the 1941 Battle of Greece, as recounted by Roald Dahl in his autobiography Going Solo.
Established in 1975 the Aeschylia Festival in Eleusis in Western Attica is the currently the longest standing cultural event organized by an Attica Municipality. It is annually held at "Palaio Elaiourgeio" a former soap factory by the seafront now transformed to faction as an open theatre. The Festival is usually running at the end of August and during all of the September. The event is organized in honor of the tragic poet Aeschylus, who was born in Eleusis, from whom it also derives its name. It includes stage productions,art exhibitions and installations,concerts and dance events.
The Hellenic National Meteorological Service (HNMS) weather station of Eleusis has an average maximum July temperature of 33.0 °C (1958-2001 HNMS) The Eleusis phenomenon is not yet completely understood; however, factors of geomorphology, warm water masses in the summer and warm winds might be responsible for its summer climate. According to Kassomenos and Katsoulis (2006), based on 12 years of data (1990–2001), the industrialization of west Attica, where at least 40% of the industrial activity of the country is concentrated, could be the cause of the warm climate of the zone. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Eleusis has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csa" on climate maps.
Eleusis is one of the two Athenian suburbs (the other one is Tatoi) with the highest ever officially recorded temperature in Europe according to the World Meteorological Organization of 48.0 °C (118.4 °F), on 10 July 1977, by the use of minimum-maximum thermometers.
Eleusis has only one general hospital the Thriassio General Hospital, located 3.9 km north of the city centre.
Eleusis hosts the multi-sport club Panelefsiniakos with successful sections in football and basketball. Other historical club of Eleusis is Iraklis Eleusis, founded in 1928.
|Notable sport clubs based in Eleusis|
|Iraklis Eleusis||Football||1928||Earlier presence in Gamma Ethniki|
|Panelefsiniakos||Football||1931||Earlier presence in A Ethniki|
|Basketball||1969||Earlier presence in A1 Ethniki|
Eleusis is twinned with:
In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Demeter (; Attic: Δημήτηρ Dēmḗtēr, pronounced [dɛːmɛ́ːtɛːr]; Doric: Δαμάτηρ Dāmā́tēr) is the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, presiding over grains and the fertility of the earth. Her cult titles include Sito (Σιτώ), "she of the Grain", as the giver of food or grain, and Thesmophoros (θεσμός, thesmos: divine order, unwritten law; φόρος, phoros: bringer, bearer), "Law-Bringer", as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society.Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries, a religious tradition that predated the Olympian pantheon, and which may have its roots in the Mycenaean period c. 1400–1200 BC. Demeter was often considered to be the same figure as the Anatolian goddess Cybele, and in Rome she was identified as the Latin goddess Ceres.Eleusinian Mysteries
The Eleusinian Mysteries (Greek: Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) were initiations held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. They are the "most famous of the secret religious rites of ancient Greece". Their basis was an old agrarian cult, and there is some evidence that they were derived from the religious practices of the Mycenean period. The mysteries represented the myth of the abduction of Persephone from her mother Demeter by the king of the underworld Hades, in a cycle with three phases: the descent (loss), the search, and the ascent, with the main theme being the ascent (άνοδος) of Persephone and the reunion with her mother. It was a major festival during the Hellenic era, and later spread to Rome. Similar religious rites appear in the agricultural societies of Near East and in Minoan Crete.
The rites, ceremonies, and beliefs were kept secret and consistently preserved from antiquity. For the initiated, the rebirth of Persephone symbolized the eternity of life which flows from generation to generation, and they believed that they would have a reward in the afterlife. There are many paintings and pieces of pottery that depict various aspects of the Mysteries. Since the Mysteries involved visions and conjuring of an afterlife, some scholars believe that the power and longevity of the Eleusinian Mysteries, a consistent set of rites, ceremonies and experiences that spanned two millennia, came from psychedelic drugs. The name of the town, Eleusís, seems to be Pre-Greek and it is probably a counterpart with Elysium and the goddess Eileithyia.Eleusis (card game)
Eleusis is a multi-genre card game where one player chooses a secret rule to determine which cards can be played on top of others, and the other players attempt to determine the rule using inductive logic.
The game was invented by Robert Abbott in 1956, and was first published by Martin Gardner in his Mathematical Games column in Scientific American magazine in June 1959. A revised version appeared in Gardner's July 1977 column.
Eleusis is sometimes considered an analogy to the problems of scientific method. It can be compared with the card game Mao, which also has secret rules that can be learned inductively. The games of Penultima and Zendo also feature players attempting to discover inductively a secret rule or rules thought of by a "Master" or "Spectators" who declare plays legal or illegal on the basis of the rules.
The formalization of Eleusis+Nobel inspired new modes of communication by exchange of logical notes.Eleusis (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Eleusis (Ancient Greek: Ἐλευσῖνι or Ἐλευσῖνα) was the eponymous hero of the town of Eleusis. He was a son of Hermes and the Oceanid Daeira, or of Ogygus. Panyassis wrote of him as father of Triptolemus, adding that "Demeter came to him"; this version of the myth is found in the works of Hyginus and Servius. According to it, King Eleusis and Cothonea (Cyntinia), parents of Triptolemus, are visited by Demeter, who rears their son, feeding him divine milk by day and placing him into the fire at night, which makes Triptolemus grow faster than mortal children normally do. She eventually kills Eleusis for intervening when the fire ritual is performed. The myth is closely parallel with the one that deals with Demeter visiting Celeus and Metaneira (also possible parents of Triptolemus) and nursing their son Demophon.European route E94
European route E 94 is part of the International E-road network, which is a series of main roads in Europe.
The E 94 starts in western Greece in Corinth, Greece and through Attiki Odos (A6) runs east through Megara and Eleusis and ends in the Greek capital of Athens at the Saronic Gulf in the east.European route E962
European route E 962 is a European B class road in Greece, connecting the city Eleusis – Thebes.Greek National Road 3
Greek National Road 3 (Greek: Εθνική Οδός 3, abbreviated as EO3) is a single carriageway road in Greece. It connects Eleusis near Athens with the border of North Macedonia at Niki. It passes through Larissa and Florina. At Niki, it connects with the M5K motorway to Bitola. Greek National Road 3 is one of the longest highways in Greece and until the 1960s it served as the main route from Larissa to Thessaloniki. The new A1 motorway now offers a faster connection to Thessaloniki. Most of the EO3, except the southernmost section between Eleusis and Bralos, is part of the E65.Greek National Road 8a
Greek National Road 8a (Greek: Εθνική Οδός 8a, abbreviated as EO8a) was a toll road in the Attica, Peloponnese and West Greece regions. It connected Athens with the cities of Corinth and Patras. It was built in the 1960s as a replacement for the old National Road 8 as the major route to the Peloponnese, and bypasses most towns. The National Road 8a has gradually been upgraded to a motorway, the A8. Since April 2017, the complete length of the A8 motorway has been operational.The EO8a started east of Eleusis, where it branched off the old GR-8 as a limited-access dual carriageway. Between Megara and Kineta the motorway passed through several tunnels. Its western end was the interchange with the A5 motorway, near Rio, northeast of Patras.
The total length of the route was 215 km. The eastern section, between Eleusis and Corinth, was part of European route E94. The western section, between Corinth and Rio, was part of European route E65.Iacchus
In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Iacchus (also Iacchos, Iakchos) (Greek: Ἴακχος) was a minor deity, of some cultic importance, particularly at Athens and Eleusis in connection with the Eleusinian mysteries, but without any significant mythology. He perhaps originated as the personification of the ritual exclamation Iacche! cried out during the Eleusinian procession from Athens to Eleusis. He was often identified with Dionysus, perhaps because of the resemblance of the names Iacchus and Bacchus, another name for Dionysus. By various accounts he was a son of Demeter (or apparently her husband), or a son of Persephone, identical with Dionysus Zagreus, or a son of Dionysus.
During the Greco-Persian Wars, when the Attic countryside, deserted by the Greeks, was being laid waste by the Persians, a ghostly procession was supposed to have been seen advancing from Eleusis, crying out “Iacchus”. This miraculous event was interpreted as a sign of the eventual Greek victory at the Battle of Salamis (480 BC). Iacchus was also possibly involved in an Eleusinian myth in which the old woman Baubo, by exposing her genitals, cheered up the mourning Demeter.Motorway 6 (Greece)
Motorway 6 (Greek: Αυτοκινητόδρομος 6) is a privately owned toll motorway in Greece, part of the Attiki Odos system. Connecting Eleusis in the west with the Athens International Airport in the east, it forms the northern beltway of Athens. The length of the motorway is 48 kilometres (30 mi).Motorway 8 (Greece)
The Greek Motorway 8 (Greek: Αυτοκινητόδρομος 8), is a motorway in Greece. Part of the Olympia Odos network, the motorway connects Athens with Patras in southwestern Greece, spanning a total of 215 km (134 mi).
The motorway replaces Greek National Road 8A, which has been upgraded to modern motorway standards. The completion date was scheduled for 2014. Since April 2017, the entire motorway from Eleusis to Patras is fully operational.Navy Aviation Command
The Navy Aviation Command (Greek: Διοίκηση Αεροπορίας Ναυτικού, ΔΑΝ) is the naval aviation component of the Hellenic Navy. It was established on 23 January 2018 from the amalgamation of the Navy Helicopter Command (Διοίκηση Ελικοπτέρων Ναυτικού, ΔΕΝ) and the 353rd Naval Cooperation Squadron (353 ΜΝΑΣ), which was run jointly with the Hellenic Air Force.The new formation is based in the 112th Combat Wing in Elefsis Air Base, occupying the infrastructure formerly used by the disbanded 353rd Squadron. The Navy Aviation Command comprises the following units:
Navy Aircraft Squadron (Μοίρα Αεροσκαφών Ναυτικού, ΜΑΝ)
1st Navy Helicopter Squadron (Μοίρα Ελικοπτέρων Ναυτικού 1, ΜΕΝ/1)
2nd Navy Helicopter Squadron (Μοίρα Ελικοπτέρων Ναυτικού 2, ΜΕΝ/2)
Navy Helicopter School (Σχολή Ελικοπτέρων Ναυτικού, ΣΕΝ)
Navy Helicopter Base (Βάση Ελικοπτέρων Ναυτικού, ΒΕΝ)
Amfiali Helicopter Station (Ελικοσταθμός Αμφιάλης, Ε/Σ ΑΜΦΙΑΛΗΣ)Panelefsiniakos F.C.
Panelefsiniakos F.C. (Greek: Πανελευσινιακός Α.Ο.), the Panelefsiniakos Athletic Club, is a football club based in the city of Elefsina, Greece. The club currently competes in Football League. The team was formed in 1931.Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone ( pər-SEF-ə-nee; Greek: Περσεφόνη), also called Kore ( KOR-ee; Greek: Κόρη; "the maiden"), is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable, majestic queen of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. She becomes the queen of the underworld through her abduction by and subsequent marriage to Hades, the god of the underworld. The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation. Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like Attis, Adonis, and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete.
Persephone as a vegetation goddess and her mother Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which promised the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death. In some versions, Persephone is the mother of Zeus' sons Dionysus, Iacchus, or Zagreus. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but it was based on very old agrarian cults of agricultural communities.
Persephone was commonly worshipped along with Demeter and with the same mysteries. To her alone were dedicated the mysteries celebrated at Athens in the month of Anthesterion. In Classical Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed
robed, often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, but she was mostly represented in the process of being carried off by Hades.
In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina.Polyphemos Painter
The Polyphemos Painter (or Polyphemus Painter) was a high Proto-Attic vase painter, active in Athens or on Aegina. He is considered an innovator in Attic art, since he introduced several mythological themes. His works are dated to between 670 and 650 BC. It is likely that he was not only a vase painter, but also the potter of the vessels bearing his works.
The Polyphemus Painter was probably a pupil of the Mesogeia Painter. His conventional name refers to his name vase, a neck amphora found at Eleusis, which had served as the funerary vase for a child. It is sometimes known as the Eleusis Amphora. The painting on the neck, depicting the blinding of Polyphemus, and that on the belly, showing Perseus and the gorgons, belong to the earliest identifiable depictions of scenes from Greek mythology. The Antikensammlung at Berlin once contained a clay stand, lost during World War II, known as the Menelas Stand, by the Polyphemus Painter. It depicts a group of men holding spears. The word Menelas, the Doric dialect form of Menelaus, is written next to one of the figures, forming the oldest known inscription in Attic art. The Doric dialect is unusual in Attica, but spoken on Aegina. Since all figures wear identical clothing, they may represent a chorus. Thus, it has been hypothesised that the inscription could also act as a kind of "speech bubble", as the lines of a chorus – in Greek drama, the chorus conventionally spoke Doric. However, this interpretation has been accepted by some and contested by other scholars, leaving it uncertain.
Before the identity of the painters of the Berlin and Eleusis pieces had been established, the Menelas Stand was sometimes ascribed to a hypothetical Menelas Painter.Rites of Eleusis
The Rites of Eleusis were a series of seven public invocations or rites written by British occultist Aleister Crowley, each centered on one of the seven classical planets of antiquity. They were dramatically performed by Aleister Crowley, Leila Waddell (Laylah), and Victor Benjamin Neuburg in October and November, 1910, at Caxton Hall, London. This act brought Crowley's occult organization the A∴A∴ into the public eye.Sacred Way
The Sacred Way (Ancient Greek: Ἱερὰ Ὁδός, Hierá Hodós), in ancient Greece, was the road from Athens to Eleusis. It was so called because it was the route taken by a procession celebrating the Eleusinian Mysteries. The procession to Eleusis began at the Sacred Gate in the Kerameikos (the Athenian cemetery) on the 19th Boedromion.
In the present day, the road from central Athens to Aegaleo and Chaidari (the old route to Eleusis) is called the Iera Odos after the ancient road.Triptolemus
In Greek mythology, Triptolemus (Greek: Τριπτόλεμος, Triptólemos, lit. "threefold warrior"; also known as Buzyges) is a figure connected with the goddess Demeter of the Eleusinian Mysteries. He was either a mortal prince, the eldest son of King Celeus of Eleusis, or, according to Pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotheca (I.V.2), the son of Gaia and Oceanus.West Attica
West Attica (Greek: Δυτική Αττική) is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Attica. The capital of the regional unit is the town of Eleusis. The regional unit covers the western part of the agglomeration of Athens, and the area to its west.
|Climate data for Elefsina, Greece (1958-1997)|
|Average high °C (°F)||13.0
|Average low °C (°F)||5.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||48.4
|Source: Hellenic National Meteorological Service|
Places adjacent to Eleusis
|Regional unit of Central Athens|
|Regional unit of North Athens|
|Regional unit of West Athens|
|Regional unit of South Athens|
|Regional unit of Piraeus|
|Regional unit of East Attica|
|Regional unit of West Attica|
|Regional unit of Islands|
Subdivisions of the municipality of Eleusis
Landmarks of Attica*