Piraeus is a city in the periphery of Attica, Greece, and a suburb located 9 km to the south-west of the center of Athens. It is the capital of the Piraeus Prefecture and belongs to the Athens urban area, being the second most populous municipality of the Greek capital, following the Athens municipality.
It was the port of the ancient city of Athens and was chosen to serve as the modern port when the city re-emerged in 1834. Piraeus is the largest port in Europe and the third largest in the world in terms of passenger transportation, servicing 19,000,000 passengers annually.
The Piraeus station is the terminus of Line 1 (the "green line"), the electric train service now incorporated into the Athens Metro. The uninhabited island of Psyttaleia is also within municipal limits.
The population of the municipality of Piraeus is 175,697 (2001). The prefecture of Piraeus, which includes the surrounding land and some of the islands of the Saronic Gulf, has a population of 541,504 (2001).
The area consists of a rocky promontory, containing three natural harbours: a large one on the north-west which functions as an important commercial harbour for the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and two smaller points, Zea and Mikrolimano.
The western part of the port covers a huge area, with much of that part of the harbour lying in suburban Drapetsona and Keratsini.
In addition to being the largest marine - based shipping centre of Greece, Piraeus is also the commercial hub of Greek shipping, with most of Greece's shipowners basing their commercial operations there, largely centred around the street Akti Miaouli.
In its capacities as host to Greek shipping, Piraeus has been affected significantly by the various governments of Greece.
Following World War II, the Greek government attempted to nationalize the proceeds of the insurance payments given to Greek shipowners who had lost vessels as a result of those vessels having been commandered by the Allied Forces; the insurance had been provided by Lloyd's of London and guaranteed by the coalition of the allied forces.
Although the Greek shipowners ultimately won their case against the Greek government in the British courts, most were uninterested in continuing to base their headquarters in Piraeus both out of distrust of the Greek government and the fact that the war had left the greater Athens area in a state of severe poverty.
As a result, the Greek shipowners left Piraeus en masse in favor of operations in London, New York, Alexandria and other major shipping cities.
Actually, Piraeus is the western part of the Athens coastal zone.
In this area, the hill of Castella is worth visiting as it is one of the most wealthy neighbourhoods of Piraeus, with a unique view over Athens and the Saronic Gulf.
On the other hand, Kaminia is a beautiful and a classic working-class neighbourhood, which is widely known for the strong support its residents provide the most successful club of Piraeus with, Olympiacos.
One of the most famous places in Piraeus is the Municipal Theater (Greek: Δημοτικό Θέατρο), a magnificent neo-classical building.
In addition to these, Peace and Friendship Stadium and Karaiskakis Stadium, an indoor arena and a football venue respectively, home of Olympiacos basketball and football departments, are of the most impressive Greek stadiums, being opposite one of each other in Neo Faliro area.
Mikrolimano and Pasalimani (Zea) are the smaller harbours, which are touristy and attract a lot of people during the day. Among the archeological sites of Piraeus, parts of the ancient Themistoclean Walls are still preserved in good condition, while there are ruins of the main gate to the Long Walls.
Excavations in Pasalimani revealed the skevothiki, an ancient structure where ship's equipment was stored, designed by the architect Philon. In Castella, there is the Syrangio which probably served as a sanctuary to the local hero Syranga, and the Cave of Arethusa, both of the Minoan Age.
Ruins of the ancient city at the basement of the cathedral of Agia Triada and the ancient neosoikoi in Zea and Cantharus navy yard, can be seen.
The Archeological Museum of Piraeus, along with the Maritime Museum, reveal the glorious history of the city.