Welcome to the Municipality of Alimos!
The modern seaside athenian suburb of Alimos, demarcated north by Hymettus mountain range and south by the Saronic sea, welcomes you to experience its beauties and discover its history.
It was named after the ancient settlement Alimous. “Als” is the ancient Greek word, used initially for a grain of salt and then for the sea, while “Alimos” was the name of the plant “Marsh Samphire”, which was growing abundantly in the area.
In the classical antiquity era (5th – 4th century BC), in the area that is occupied today by the administrative region of Alimos there was the municipality of Alimos and part of the municipality of Euonymos. Alimos and Euonymos were Attica municipalities that participated with their representatives in the Athenian Parliament of the Five Hundred, while, as is well known, Alimos was the homeland of the great historian Thucydides, but also the place where the famous feast of “Thesmoforia” were being held.
But the history of our city begins long before…
A 5,000-year history
The oldest traces of human presence that have been found until now in the area of Alimos, are placed around 3,000 BC, in other words in the Neolithic era! On the southwest slope of the hill of the god Pan (modern Pani), were found a circular enclosure, foundations of houses, stone tools, fragments of clay vessels and exfoliated obsidian stones, imported from Milos, that were being widely used in Ancient Greece for the construction of tools. The frequent presence of the obsidian in the excavations of Alimos proves the developed organized contacts of the ancient inhabitants of the region with the Aegean islands.
At the end of the Neolithic era belongs the ancient settlement in Kontopigado, part of which was destroyed during the widening of Vouliagmeni Avenue, in the 1960s! Here were found pits of laboratory use, a cave house/hut, laboratory utensils such as copper tool casting matrix, stone tools, obsidian blades, but also food residues, such as seafood shells and snail shells.
From the relics of the Proto-Hellenic era stands out a clay seal engraved with the shape of a cross, a finding that reveals a developed control system of the movement of goods in an organized society. At the end of the 14th century BC, a Mycenaean settlement was settled in the same area, having as its central point a mansion-shaped hall with small rooms around it. In other words, we may visit in Kontopigado a miniature of a typical Mycenaean-era complex!
The cape of modern Agios Kosmas was known as “Kolias Akra”, another sacred place of the ancient municipality of Alimous. The area was famous in antiquity for its “ceramic” land, and for the quality clay deposits that were producing excellent ceramic vases. In Kolias Akra, modern Agios Kosmas, an important proto-Hellenic settlement and cemetery were discovered. There were found pits for food storage, a paved road, houses with narrow streets. The inhabitants of the settlement at that time had close relations with the Cyclades and there was an exchange of ideas and products among them.
In the Mycenaean era an important settlement was established here. In fact at the top of the cape a small wall was found, possibly for protection from pirate raids. It was not before 2003, during the widening of the coastal area and Alimos Avenue, that a Mycenaean tomb was uncovered, which had been badly damaged by the construction of a Germans’ gun-emplacement on top of it. Moreover, the “caves” which the elders remember, in the so-called “Loutra Alimos”, on the coast of Kalamaki, most probably were being used as chambers of an organized cemetery, which belonged to Kolias Akra.
Obsidian and seashells (fragments of ceramic vases) of the Proto-Hellenic and Mycenaean period have also been found on the hills of Geroulanos and of Agia Anna.
Alimos and Euonymos, the two ancient neighboring municipalities that for the most part coincide with the modern municipality of Alimos, must have been formed in the 6th century BC, after the administrative reform of Cleisthenes. In that area, however, there is proof of habitation since the 8th century BC. This is proved by the geometric and archaic tombs uncovered in the area.
It was a municipality of Leontidas tribe, named after Leo, mythical son of Orpheus. It was a quiet countryside with farmhouses and estates for those Athenians seeking a nearby retreat from the noisy and bustling “Glorious City” of Athens. Alimos was sparsely populated, according to relevant references of the orator Demosthenes, however, he was particularly famous for two reasons, Thucydides and Thesmoforia.
Thucydides Olorou Alimousios. The great historian of antiquity, who until today, almost 26 centuries later, is taught in the most important Universities of the world. He was born in the Municipality of Alimous around 460 BC. His father was Oloros from Thrace and his mother Igisippi from the line of Miltiades. In 424 BC he was exiled from Athens because he could not keep Amphipolis in the Athenian alliance. Being an exile gave him the opportunity to devote himself wholeheartedly to the writing of the history of the Peloponnesian War (431 – 404 BC), the civil war that shook ancient Greece in the 5th century BC.
Thucydides launches scientific historiography by introducing the search for the root causes, critical thinking and systematic objectivity. He recognizes and places the man as the sole protagonist of historical events, abandoning completely the will of the Gods and the fate as factors in the evolution of historical events.
Believing that human nature does not change, he writes to leave his work as “a forever estate” of humanity. Thucydides writes History, not to enable us remember it, but to help us understand it. As the great Hellenistic Jacqueline de Romilly notes, he writes to make us understand not only the past, but also all global sequences of events that reoccur at different times.
Since 1984, the official emblem of the Municipality of Alimos is the figure of the great historian, while since 1985 a regular international scientific symposium on the subject of Thucydides has been established.
Apparently, the center of the public and religious activity of the municipality of Alimous was the hill of Agia Anna, between Alimos Avenue and the former airport. There, around 1930, the archaeological hoe revealed remains of an early Christian basilica, which had been built on the ruins of an ancient sanctuary. The sanctuary is recognized as the “Thesmoforio”, that is, the place where the famous feast of the Athenians, Thesmoforia, was being held. Unfortunately, the Germans, during World War II, dug up the hill for fortifications, resulting in the disappearance of the finds!
Thesmophoria was a Pan-Hellenic (nationwide) religious holiday, in which only women participated. It was celebrated in many Greek cities, in the month of Pyanepsiona (around the end of October) to honor Thesmophoros Dimitra, the goddess who gave institutions and rules to the people. The male presence was forbidden, as we learn from the well-known comedy of Aristophanes “Thesmoforiazousai”.
In Athens, the Thesmophoria were held in the sanctuary of the goddess Demeter in the municipality of Alimous. The feast was led by two women, the rulers, who were elected by the group of other women. Stenia was a prelude to the feast Thesmophoria, in memory of the momentary pleasure that Dimitra experienced listening to the jokes and songs of the old lady Iambi (hence the iambic meter), when she sat down to rest for a while during the search of her missing daughter. During the Stenia feasts, a climate of jokes and teasing prevailed among women who were being required to abstain from all sexual activities during the days of the festival.
Thesmoforia included the Ascent”, a procession to the sanctuary of the goddess with the participants bearing on their heads the books of institutions and rules: the book “Middle”,in other words the day that was in the middle of the celebrations and was a fasting day , as well as the book “Calligenia”. During the “Middle” the women were sitting near the statue of the goddess on layers made of wicker branches and were eating only cakes made of sesame seeds and honey that were being called “sesamountes”, something like the modern “pasteli”. At night holding torches the women took part in group dancing, where they were throwing living piglets in the “chasms of Demeter and her Daughter”, in memoriam of the pig sheperd, who was called Eubuleus and who had been swallowed by the earth along with his herd, when Pluto abducted (grabbed) Persephone. The “Pumpers”, i.e. women to whom was assigned the pumping during the ceremony, were descending later into the chasms to collect the remains of the sacrificed piglets. Everything that was being collected, subsequently was being placed on altars and their ashes were being mixed with cereals and other fruits which were scattered in the fields, to ensure the fertility of the land. At the top of the hill of Agia Anna, some chasms in the rock are visible, where the fortifications of the Germans were located. Possibly these are the chasms of the ancient ceremonies.
On the day of the “Calligenia” the euphoria of the earth, the well-being and the long-termness of women were celebrated. The foundation of civilized life, which began with the cultivation of the land, was also celebrated. Thesmoforia was ending with the “childish” race, where the prize was taken by the mother who had given birth to the most beautiful child of the year.
Near the location of Thesmochori, on the south slope of the hill of Agia Anna, on Marinos Antipas Street, in 1987 the excavations revealed an area of ancient theatre. From the monument was saved the presidency, in other words, the first row of seats for the official, in its original position with six double thrones. The breaking of an inscription on one of the two marble pedestals that was found, leaves no doubt that it is the ancient theatre of the municipality of Alimountos. Archaeologists believe that somewhere near the theater there must have been a sanctuary of the god Dionysus.
KOLIAS AKRA (AGIOS KOSMAS)
Kolia Accra, namely Agios Kosmas in the present -day, belonged to the municipality of Alimountos and according to ancient sources was a sacred place in historical times. An old tradition explains the name “Kolia”: a young man was arrested by pirates who tied him in the legs. The pirate leader’s daughter fell in love with him and released him. The young man established the first holy temple of the area out of gratitude and since then which has been named “Kolia”…
Isychios mentions that in the area there was a sanctuary of Aphrodite but also a very polystyrene sanctuary of Dimitra. Pausanias (2nd century A.D.), the ancient traveler, talks about the statues of Aphrodite Koliados and the Genetic gods that protected pregnant women and childbirth.
A story with Solon (7th-6th century BC) testifies the worship of Dimitra and her Daughter to Koliada Accra. As Plutarch narrated, in Koliada Accra, the day that Dimitra was celebrated, Solon, wanted to distract Salamina from Megara, with the lure of the beautiful Athenians who danced in honor of the goddess, deceived the Megare. He dressed armed young Athenians as women, and when the Megare went to grab the women, they were confronted with Athenian knives.
First Herodotus and later Pausanias mentioned that here the Persian ships washed up, after the destruction of the fleet of Medes in Salamina (480 BC): “… And it has a stage of the city of Kolia; In this worn-out seafarer of Medes, the enema of the ships was descended.”
However, excavations have revealed very few findings of classical times in the area. Perhaps, the remains that ancient travelers saw were buried somewhere on the cape of Agios Kosmas…
On Cleus Street, in 1999, the finding of a burial orchard revealed that burials of all kinds had taken place in the area. Deep burning pits of the dead and shallow burials, simple but also tiled tombs, a marble sarcophagus and several infusions, infant burials mainly in large vessels, were found.
Findings of particular interest form the four large marble vessels (lekythoi) of the 4th century. B.C. with embossed representations of the farewell of the man who dies. Archaeologists call these scenes “receptions”, because between the dead and the living there is a greeting with the right hand. In fact, one of the lekythois was at the top of a column that engraved the names of an entire Alimous family!
Marble are both charming lions that adorned a tomb monument that were found on the western slopes of Pani Hill. Several parts of this hill served as quarries, which the large limestone blocks come from and have been used in the construction of the buried orchards.
In a quarry in Pani we have as a remnant of the Middle Byzantine times a makeshift household of some breeders. A clay blister in place, broken and intact pots. In one of them, the remains of their last cooked food were found: Head and lamb legs…
As mentioned, today’s Alimos also encloses part of the ancient municipality of Euonymos. Euonymos or Eunomon occupied parts of Alimos, Argyroupolis, Hellenic and Heliopolis. It is named after the hero Eunomy, son of Earth and Heaven. It belonged to the Eredi tribe and appears to have been a relatively densely populated municipality, having elected 10 deputies to the Athenian Parliament of 500.
The center of Euonymos was the hill of Geroulanos, in the “rough” Trachones, as evidenced by the inscriptions that have been found.
Extensive excavations have not been carried out on the Geroulanos estate. The one who discovered and collected samples of the archaeological wealth of the area was Ioannis Geroulanos himself, who took over in 1929 the management and administration of the estate. Today, the area of 105 acres left over from the estate belongs to the company MAKRO, while by decisions of ’87 and ’94 it has been designated “Archaeological Park” and is therefore an undying zone.
The tombs that were found belong to the Geometrics as well as to the classical period, while the notes of Geroulanos speak of remains of houses, traces of a wall of a possible acropolis, wagon grooves and many clay hives of beekeeping. The ancient technical work of boxing of the Trachana stream was particularly impressive. Prehistoric tools of late and fragments of clay vessels of all chronological periods have also been collected from the estate.
The hundreds of ancient objects of the area that included in the Collection of Ioannis Geroulanos are now kept in the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus. Our wish is to become one day an Archaeological Museum in Alimos, where the findings will be repatriated…
ANCIENT THEATRE OF EYONYMOS
In 1973, outside the present-day precinct of the Geroulanos estate, the ancient theatre of the Municipality of Euonymos, with a capacity of 2,500 spectators, came to light. It is placed chronologically in the 5th century BC and is a find of exceptional interest. His orchestra is not circular, like the usual orchestra of ancient theatres, but rectangular. Also, the building of its tent is the oldest scenery that has been preserved.
It is worth noting that an inscription found in the orchestra mentioning Olympiodoros, the son of Diotimus, known as Euonymeas, confirmed the identification of the area with the ancient municipality of Euonymon.
From the sculptural decoration of the orchestra were found mutilated two marble statues of the god Dionysus, protector of the vine, wine, theatre, joy and fun.
The theatre was abandoned in the 3rd century B.C. because of the Chmmonides war, but also because of its poor physical position, as the location was constantly flooding, as it happens until today. The problem of flooding must also be related to the later-era water drainage pipeline found 50 metres south of the theatre. The pipeline was made of small stones and pieces of tiles mixed in a thick layer of mud, while its stone well was square.
TWO PROTO-CHRISTIAN TEMPLES
The first Christian churches built in the 5th and 6th centuries AD, when persecution had ceased and the Church could develop freely, are called “early Christian basilicas”. In the area of Alimos we have two such temples.
The early Christian basilica of Alimountos was built on the site of the ancient Thesmoforio on the hill of Agia Anna. It was excavated in 1929 so we are able to have the image of the floor plan of the temple. It was originally a single-aisled basilica and later became a three-aisled basilica. Unfortunately, the fortifications of the Germans during the occupation wiped out the traces of both the Institution and the basilica. The marble round bank of Intent with an engraved cross in the center that had been found in the excavations is now kept in the Byzantine Museum.
The second basilica existed in the place where the Holy Temple of Zoodochos Pigi is located today. In the courtyard of today’s church one can see its ruins. It is possible that this basilica was also built on the site of an ancient sanctuary, since its building material comes from an ancient edifice. It was a small, single-aisled cemetery temple, as it seems by the ten tombs found in its narthe.
Several years later, between the 15th and 17th centuries, the Holy Church of the Assumptions of the Virgin Mary, located on the Geroulanos Estate and the small arched church of Agios Kosmas, with frescoes that survive to this day, is built.
BYZANTIUM AND TURKOCRATIA
In the eleven centuries of the Byzantine Empire the coastal zone of Attica was weakened, mainly because it suffered by the attacks and looting of pirates. Decline, and abandonment, while the few inhabitants are engaged in agriculture, livestock farming and fishing.
In the Tourkokratia all the land of Attica belonged to the sultan. The religious and judicial authority was the mufti, a senior Muslim cleric. The mufti Ibrahim Hamza beys held a large part of Alimos and neighbouring areas.
INDEPENDENT GREEK STATE
After the establishment of the new Greek state, the Turks sold as much as their property before leaving. Huge areas in the area of Alimos fall under the property of Andreas Louriotis (1789 – 1854), partner of Mavrokordatos. Large tracts of land were also bought by Tzanetos, Constantinople merchant Alexandros Kontostavlos, many boaters from the islands, but also Giannis Makryiannis, the fighter of the Revolution of 1821! Makryiannis bought for 2,750 drachmas the area that today is enclosed by the streets of Kalamaki, Themistokleous, Kanari, Philellinon, Kondyli, Megisti and Thucydides. Hassan Beis, on his way out, gave the Karagiannopoulou sisters a part of the area…
Arvanites growers of the estates of the Turkish landowners call after the liberation of other Arvanites from Methana. The area is extremely sparsely populated and isolated due to the poor road network and the presence of robbers.
In Othus time, Alimos belonged to the Municipality of Athens.
In 1890, the oldest building which survived in the area was constructed by the Anagnostopoulou family at 4 Lykourgos Street.
Alimos began to develop at the beginning of the 20th century. It was originally called Syngrou District. In 1905, the first church was built on the hill, where today is the temple of the Transfiguration. The winegrowers of the region were bringing their first grapes to the temple every year on 6 August, in order to ensure a good harvest. The ancient customs of Thesmforia have become a Christian habit!
The streams water the fields, which occupy most of the area, full of wheat, barley and oats. Olives, pistachios, fig trees and vines complete the picture, while in the sea abound the reeds, which have given the nickname “Kalamaki” to the area.
In Venizelos time, expropriations of large estates take place and the opportunity for development was given. In 1912, the German Roman built the first villa in the area, after his marriage to the daughter of Kalamakiotis real estate agent Zannou. The whole area was named “Picrodafne” from the bitter laurels of its gardens.
The doctor from Kefalonia, Marinos Geroulanos, buys the Kato Trachones, and created a model agricultural unit. The estate supported 30 families and more than 70 workers. The wealthy Athenian contractor Nikolaos Maltezos, the first president of Kalamaki Community, built his residence on Ermou Street in 1916 and three other stone houses. In one of them was later installed the cinematographer Finos, who turned the space into a film studio.
The tailor of the royal palaces, Chochas, Tsolakis, Tsoros, the Andriotis family, who builds the private chapel of the Taxiarches, the Pikrou family, the Dutch brothers Fan Vik found in Alimos the quiet sparsely populated suburb they were looking for, and they build there their luxurious villas.
In 1926, the 1st Primary School of Kalamaki was open. The first historical teacher of the school was 17-year-old named Sofia Suma-Pavlaki!
In 1927 the settlement of Kalamaki was administratively detached from Brahami and recognized as an autonomous community. The Real Estate Association “Alimousios” has played a special role in this recognition.
Basic problems are the water supply, with those who could not afford the well buying the water from the water providers, the electricity and the lack of road network. However, the problems are slowly being overcome. The first doctors, Logotopoulos, Spiliopoulos, Picros, open the pharmacies of Ioannidis and Tzivanidis, the grocery store of Skiadas, the bakery of Lukea…
On the beach of Zythestiatoria and fish taverns, with Eleftherios Venizelos quoting meals in the tavern “Cretan” of Loukosgiannakis, while the royal family frequented the restaurant “Aigli” of Sakellariou. At the same time, the legendary “Neraida” opens, initially as a beach restaurant. Kalamaki became famous and was developed economically and residentially. Its natural beauty, tranquility and coolness along with its crystalclear sea make it an ideal destination for the summer excursions of the Athenians.
In 1928 the first city plan of Kalamaki was made, which included the coastal area, from Pikrodafni to the airport and in depth to Lysistratos Street.
Twenty months after the recognition of the Community of Kalamaki, the settlement of Komnini was detached from it. Shortly afterwards the area of Komnini was expropriated for the construction of the Airport of Hellenic. In 1930 it was detached from Kalamaki and the settlement of The Greek, today’s Law.
In 1936, the government approved the plan for the settlement “Alimos”, as well as the newly created settlement “Trachones”. Until 1940, the region was rapidly growing in population.
AXIS OCCUPATION OF GREECE
During the occupation, Kalamaki felt strongly the German presence because of its proximity to the Ellinikon International Airport. Many residences, mainly villas, were commandeed;
Alimos was present at the National Resistance. Doctor Giannatos founded in Paleo Faliro a resistance cell, in which many Kalamakians participated. Brothers Takis and Eleni Stefanidis, 17 and 15 years old, despite their young age, set up a strong resistance group. It is mentioned that in a risky discharge they managed to empty 1500 barrels of petrol intended to supply the German planes.
The military leader of the Hellenic People’s Liberation Army (ELAS), Stefanos Sarafis, lived permanently in Kalamaki, at 4 Chrysostomou Izmir Street.
In 1942 the community of Paleo Faliro was promoted to a municipality and the community of Kalamaki was part of it. In 1945, the Community of Kalamaki was reconstituted.
In the 1950s and 1960s the population in the Community of Kalamaki increased by 200%. The settlements of civil servants, customs agents, tax authorities, chemical engineers, etc., as well as the settlements of Kythera, Kefalonia, Constantinople and Egyptians are created.
In the 1960s the area from a quiet suburb becomes a modern city, while the coast of Zephyros is earthed and the great marina of the Hellenic Tourism Organization is created. In 1968 the Community of Kalamaki gives way to the modern Municipality of Alimos, founded by Royal Decree and has the administrative limits that apply until today.
The Municipality of Alimos borders Paleo Faliro, Agios Dimitrios, Ilioupoli, Argyroupolis and Ellinikon, while it is bordered by the Saronic Gulf.
Today the municipality of Alimos, in addition to the areas of Trachon, Kalamaki and Alimos, includes the settlements: Roman (English cemetery), Abelakia, Customs, Ano Kalamaki, Tax, Disabled and Kythira.
According to data from the 1970 census, Alimos numbered about 27,000 inhabitants and in 1991 32,000. According to the latest census, the population exceeds 41,000 inhabitants. However, it is estimated that more than 55,000 people live in Alimos.
The first elected Mayor was the pharmacist Pavlos Tzivanidis. The current Mayor, Andreas Kondylis, is the 7th elected mayor of Alimos.