"no silver anymore" Lavrio by mindcrime

Lavrio Travel Guide: 28 reviews and 102 photos

Lavrio is a small town with about 9000 inhabitants in southeastern part of Attica region, about 60km southeast of Athens and 12km NE from cape Sounio. It’s one of the three ports of Attica (the others are Piraeus and Rafina) but only useful for those who take the boat to Kea(Tzia) but during summer also to other islands of Cyclades complex.

Probably you will never come here (unless you want to visit Kea) but you will pass by if you go to cape Sounion (for the ancient temple of Poseidon).
Lavrio is the seat of Lavreotiki municipality that includes also Ano Thoriko, Thoriko, Keratea, Kato Poseidonia, Kato Sounio, Legrena, Agios Konstantinos

history of Lavrio

Lavrio was a prosperous town in ancient Greece due to silver mining in the area, silver that the State of Athens was using for coinage and the finance of the Athenian fleet. The mining activity in the area started before 3.000BC(!) but it was the early 6th century when the profits allocated for major public works in Athens(especially by Pisistratus). The mines nationalized when Athens became a democracy, and after the battle of Marathon (490BC) Themistocles used the profits to built the powerful Athenian fleet that later led to victory during the battle of Salamis (greek alliance against the Persian empire in 480BC).

Although nationalized private contractors were using the mines for a fixed amount while the slaves were doing the dirty work for almost nothing. Slaves rebelled in 413BC when Sparta occupied Decelea and Athens had to cut copper coins. The mines abandoned in early 2nd century BC.

Almost 2000 years later in 1864 a french-italian company reopened the mines but in 1873 a greek company (owned by Andras Syggros) bought the french-italian company. There was also a french company that served there until 1992 working mainly for lead, manganese, cadmium, zinc and silver.
The greek ministry of Culture bought the main factory of this company and created a Technological and Cultural Park. The modern city of Lavrio was founded in 1864 when workers came from other suburbs of Attica but also from Cyclades islands, Evoia, Viotia etc In early 20th century there were about 10,000 people in Lavrio, about the same number we find today. The town was built around the port with large square, small parks and many neoclassical buildings (the town hall is the first one we saw). From the port you can see Makronisos(long island), an uninhabited island that is unfamous as a place of imprisonment for greek communists after the greek civil war (1949) until 1973. The island was called Helena in ancient times.

Unfortunately the environmental consequences because of the huge develpemnt were catastrophic, tons of waste on the coast and many dangerous elements in soil which prohibit the cultivation of land of livestock. As an industrial town Lavrio didn’t have unemployment problems but when the mines closed felt into decay and heavy economic crisis.

If you come here don’t miss the ancient theatre of Thoriko (2km from Lavrio) and the temple of Poseidon (at cape Sounion, 11km away)

  • Last visit to Lavrio: Dec 2011
  • Intro Updated Feb 21, 2013
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  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Feb 23, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    The port of Lavrto looks wonderful, but then again the town looks pretty charming too. Nice page!

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