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Ο Μάνος Χατζιδάκις για τον Πειραιά: ..... Όσο κι αν ψάξω, δεν βρίσκω άλλο λιμάνι τρελή να με 'χει κάνει, όσο τον Πειραιά. Που όταν βραδιάζει, τραγούδια μ' αραδιάζει και τις πενιές του αλλάζει, γεμίζει από παιδιά..... 


Ο Μάνος Χατζιδάκις για τον Πειραιά: ..... Όσο κι αν ψάξω, δεν βρίσκω άλλο λιμάνι τρελή να με 'χει κάνει, όσο τον Πειραιά. Που όταν βραδιάζει, τραγούδια μ' αραδιάζει και τις πενιές του αλλάζει, γεμίζει από παιδιά..... 


 Piraeus (Ancient Greek: Peiraiefs) is the port of Attica and the most important port of Greece and the East Mediterranean coast. The municipality of Piraeus constitutes the third biggest municipality and settlement in Greece having a population of 175.697 according to the census of 2001 while its extent reaches to 10.9 square kilometres. The wider area of Piraeus includes the homonymous municipality and six more municipalities-suburbs with a total population of 466.065 and an extent of 50.4 square kilometres. It constitutes the southwest urban part of the Athens, part of the capital-city region. The centre of Piraeus is 12 kilometres from the centre of Athens being the historic seaport of the capital of Attica while the municipality constitutes the centre of the Piraeus Prefecture that is part of the Hyper-Prefecture of Athens and Piraeus

The area of Piraeus seems to have been inhabited since the Neolithic Era reaching its peak during the Classical Era when it was first declared as a municipality, more specifically being one of the municipalities of Ancient Athens, chosen to be the seaport of the Athens city-state. A long period of decay followed when Piraeus was occasionally deserted reaching the 19th century when Athens became the capital of the newly formed country of Greece and Piraeus started developing again. Its population steadily grew following the premium urban design of the city based on the system that Ippodamus from Miletus initially applied when designing Ancient Piraeus, a system that remains a prototype of urban design. Actually, in 1832, Piraeus was nominated by Gutensohn, the architect of Ludwig I of Bavaria, to become the capital of Greece progressively extending to Athens but eventually the reverse happened since Athens was the city chosen to become the capital of Greece and after a while Piraeus integrated in the capital region.

Nowadays, Piraeus is the biggest industrial centre of the country while at the same time the biggest port in Europe and the third biggest port in the whole world based on travelling records, a fact that makes the municipality of Piraeus the largest commercial centre of the Greek Economy. Piraeus is the link of mainland Greece with the islands of the Aegean Sea. As part of the Athenian urban complex, there are plenty of transportation means in service i.e. buses, trolleys, suburban railway, tram, metro (for the time being the old line of the underground railway is the one available but in the future there is going to be a new extended line of the metro) while it is also connected to the central railway network of the country.  

A number of signs, ancient tomb findings, temple's bases and foundations , houses, buildings, walls and ancient port structures, in combination with texts from ancient authors referring to Piraeus (such as Thucydides, Xenophon, Aristotle, Plutarch, Isocrates, Plato, Lycurgus, Demosthenes, Herodotus and Polydeukis) constitute direct sources for studying the history and the topography of the city. The first to write about Attica was Diodoros the ‘traveller’ (4th century BC) followed by Iliodoros who wrote about 15 books referring to the monuments of Athens.

Since antiquity the names that both the city and the port have been given at times are as follows:

1. City Names:

"Peiraiefs" (during ancient times and is also the last official name of the city).


"Piraeus" (given by Stefanos Vizantios and also the last Modern Greek name of the city)

"Pireas", "Peréas", or "Pereás" (folk names for the city). Moreover, in texts of the previous century a number of names for the city can be encountered that differ in stress and spelling. In all cases where stress fell on the last syllable of the name, an ancient Greek stress symbol was used called ‘perispomeni’.

2. Port Names:

"Port of Piraeus" or simply "the Port" (during ancient times and also the last archaeological record).

"Kantharos" or "Port of Kantharos" (during ancient times as well).

"Kofos Port" (after the Peloponnesean War and also the last archaeological record).

"Port of Athens".

"Port of the Lion" or more widely known as "Porto Leone"(during the 17th century a marble lion decorated the port being the first thing that the travellers could see when entering the port. The original lion was stolen by Francesco Morozini and it can now be found in Venice. Today an imitation of this lion made by the sculptor Georgio Megoula is placed at the entrance of the port.)

"Porto Drako" or "Porto Drakone".

"Porto of Athens" (name given by Meletius).

Moreover during the Roman Era, the Middle Ages, the Venetian and the Turkish Occupation the port has taken the following names:

"Athenarum portus".

"Portus de Sithines", or "Sithines".

"Porto Leone", or "Porto Draco", ή "Porto Dracone".

"Aslan Port" (before and during 1821)

Many ancient writers in an attempt to reinforce the insularity of Piraeus trace the origins of the city name to the word ‘Peiraiefs’ coming from the word ‘peraiefs’ (by changing the first ‘e’ vowel into ‘ei’ <i>). Peiraiefs means ‘ferryman’ (coming from the verb ‘peraió’ that is ‘ferry someone to the other side’) referring to the person that is responsible for ferrying people from the Falirean coast to the opposite banks of the Piraeus island. According to Dragatsis and Hatzis the name was turned from a common noun into a proper one (by combining the -efs suffix occuring in words such as pharmakefs = pharmacist, vafefs = painter, implying the person carrying out a specific task/job). Following that line, Pireaus as a word states a profession just like the proper nouns Galatas (= milkman) etc. In ancient Greek the ‘ferryman’ was not only called ‘peiraiefs’ but also ‘peiraios’ (S. Byzantions). J. Schmidt and K. Wahrmann (1929) both seem to agree on this etymology. Finally, this claim is reinforced by the name ‘Peiraiós’ which was given to the port of ancient Korinthos that also meant ‘ferryman’.

According to others, the name ‘Peiraiefs’ comes from the word ‘peran’ (which means the ‘other side’) because in ancient times there was a marshy area in between the two lands (the so called ‘alipedon’), the same name being also used to describe opposite banks, for example:

Peraia of Palestine, the land opposite Jordan river.

Peraia, the land opposite Tenedos and Misia.

Peraia of Korinthos (known as Peraxora)

Peraia of Siria, whose inhabitants are called Peiraieis.

Peraia of Smirni (a suburb of Smirni)

 Municipality of Piraeus population







 According to guess estimates




1st population census




















After the minor Asia disaster




After the break off of kokkinia , keratsini, koridallos and perama




After the break off of Drapetsona








After Neo faliro is included in Piraeus














Following this line, A. Hatzis claims that in Modern Greek dialect the names ‘Peréas’ or ‘Peraiás’ or ‘Peraias’ do not hold any kind of lexical differentiation supporting his argument by referring to the entry ‘Peiraiefs’ found in the Pape-Benseler dictionary.

Source: wikipedia

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