Piraiévs (pērāĕfsˈ) [key] or Piraeus pĪrēˈəs, city (1991 pop. 182,671), E central Greece, in Attica, on the Saronic Gulf; part of Greater Athens. It is the port of Athens and the chief port in Greece. A commercial center, Piraiévs has shipyards and industries that manufacture chemicals, textiles, and machinery. The construction of Piraiévs was planned by Themistocles and executed (c.450 B.C.) by the architect Hippodamus of Miletus. It quickly replaced Phaleron as the port of Athens. The famed Long Walls, two parallel walls about 600 ft (183 m) apart, connected Athens with Piraiévs and enabled Athens to receive supplies from its port during the Peloponnesian War. The port, itself strongly fortified, consisted of three harbors—one for grain vessels, one for merchant ships in general, and one for warships. In 404 B.C. the Spartans destroyed the Long Walls to the accompaniment of flute music, but Conon rebuilt them in 393 B.C. The arsenal (built 347–323 B.C.) and fortifications were destroyed by the Roman general Sulla in 86 B.C., and few traces of the Long Walls remain. The modern development of Piraiévs began only after Greece achieved independence in the 19th cent. The city was heavily bombed by Germany in World War II.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.