A tour in Lavrio, the living-museum town of Attica
In Lavrio, at the south-eastern edge of Attica, you will feel you are in an island, although you are just a few kilometers away from the centre of Athens. Aside from its “island-like” character, there are a lot more reasons to love Lavrio. It is a living museum, a town that has been identified with the mining history of Greece, that boasts architectural masterpieces, vast squares, parks and many open spaces, and despite its recent tourist development, it maintains its identity. For travellers who seek the… hidden treasures of Attica, all roads lead to Lavrio!
Whether you pick the Attica Tollway (Attiki Odos) or the Athens-Sounio coastal route, in approximately one hour from downtown Athens you will be at the main square of Lavrio, with the fountain, the low houses and the modest neoclassical buildings.
Near El. Venizelos international airport, Lavrio port is a vital naval hub, with outstanding geographical and strategic position. It has been declared as a Greek harbour of national significance, playing a major supplementary role to the port of Piraeus and the wider port network of Attica. Today, the port is home to multiple maritime activities, such as yachting, sailing and cruising, fishing and commerce. Lavrio port connects Attica with the Cyclades islands, as well as some of the Dodecanese and north Aegean islands. Its long coastline is an important natural resource, as is the nearby natural forest of Sounio.
The name of Lavrio derives from “lavra”, which means narrow passage, tunnel and, by extension, adit. Lavrio used to be the first industrial town in Greece. It was there that the first lead and silver mining of the country took place. The whole area was dotted with mines and adits, attracting thousands of people from all over Greece, who came to Lavrio to work.
Today, the town is a reference point for those who wish to enjoy fresh fish and delightful day trips. With its enchanting and authentic atmosphere, Lavrio offers “mind travels” like no other. With its port, the beautiful promenade, its marina and the Aegean Sea on its feet, it is ideal starting point for memorable sailing excursions. Here you will find many sailboat renting companies, to explore the stunning beaches and hidden coves of Attica’s coastline.
At the traditional little tavernas and ouzo bars in the fish market of Lavrio, by the main square, you will savour delicious small dishes (mezedes), in a uniquely authentic environment. The building of the market was built in 1885 by the Hellenic Mining Company, which rented the spaces to merchants. Today it is one of the sights of the town and operates as a fish and meat market, offering visitors unforgettable gastronomic delights.
In the north side of the port, you will see the remains of the iron French Wharf and right behind it, the ruins of the warehouse of Lavrio French Mining Company. From here, the coastal road takes you to the exit of the town and the nearby ancient Thorikos Theatre, the oldest remaining theatre in Greece and true “jewel” of Lavreotiki.
A tour in Lavrio will unveil a multitude of wonderful neoclassical buildings, such as the old Town Hall of Lavreotiki Municipality, which now houses the Historical Archive and the Municipal Library of the town. The headquarters of the first mining company at the port, which today host the Town Hall, the building of “Orpheus” Philharmonic Orchestra (now Cultural Centre), the historic “Efterpi” building, the old 1st Elementary School and the Fish Market are featured in the list of Lavrio stunning neoclassical buildings.
Samples of industrial architecture are scattered all around the town, since Lavrio preserves to a great extent the buildings and mechanical equipment of the factories that marked its history. The Mineralogical Museum, typical example of industrial architecture, showcases minerals found exclusively in Lavreotiki land, one of the most significant mining regions in the world. Marvel at the reconstructed historical industrial buildings in Lavrio, which today house mainly cultural activities, such as the Machine Shop and the Foundry of Lavrio Mining Company, and of course the Lavrio Technological and Cultural Park (LTCP), which is housed at the premises of the former French Mining Company and is a unique monument of industrial archaeology and architecture.
At the north end of the town, you will come across Kyprianos settlement, probably the first industrial residential district in Greece, where miners of Lavrio settled. Residences of miners in Kyprianos are still preserved intact, in a neighbourhood that maintains the features it had during the end of the 19th century. The tour in Kyprianos settlement is a “journey back in time”, which you shouldn’t miss!
Winter or summer, Lavrio offers its visitors extraordinary images and experiences. Its hidden gems, the traces of its rich history and its unique architecture will thrill you. The authenticity, the relaxed atmosphere, the hospitality of its people and the gastronomy will be hard to forget. Both destination and starting point for nearby excursions by land or sea, Lavrio is here and expects you to discover it!
For information about arrivals and departures of ferries to and from Lavrio port, contact +30 22920-26859 and +30 22920-26859.