The growing city of Athens has long-since co-opted the land around what was Eleusis (now a modern city known as Elefsina), placing shipyards in the pristine gulf and steel mills and petrochemical plants along its shores. The resulting city is far from pretty, but that didn't stop it being a European Capital of Culture in 2021. The reason for this lies far more in the area's past than its industrial present, dating back to the Mycenean era. Back then there stretched in every direction fields of corn and barley sacred to the goddess Demeter, whose realm was symbolized by the sheaf and sickle, and whose cultish following spread far. Initiates were sworn to uphold their secrets on pain of death, and each year pilgrims would walk its Sacred Way in a huge festival that attracted thousands across the ancient world. What remains today is a scattering of ruins that only hints at the power this cult once held. You can reach the site, like nearby Daphni Monastery, via the metro (Line 3) and the connecting 876 bus.

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