Piraeus(Gr. ■), a town of Greece, the seaport of Athens, on a peninsula of the same name and on the shore of the harbor formed by a small inlet of the Saronic gulf, 5 m. W. S. W. of the city, with which it has been connected by rail since 1869; pop. in 1872, 11,047. Of the three ports anciently employed by the Athenians (Piraeus, Munychia, and Phalerum), Piraeus is the only one which has always remained in use, and is fit for the service of a modern harbor, the others being too shallow. The modern town has sprung up entirely since 1834, and is growing rapidly. It contains four churches, six schools, a custom house, and a lazaretto. The harbor of Piraeus is deep and safe, though the entrance is somewhat difficult. The number of vessels entering the port in 1872 was 713, with an aggregate tonnage of 71,402. The imports in that year were valued at $3,177,334, the exports at $681,956. The railway connecting it with the city was the first constructed in Greece. - Before the Persian war Phalerum had been the port of Athens; but Themistocles, seeing the natural advantages of the Piraeus, surrounded the peninsula with a line of fortifications 60 stadia in circumference and 60 ft. high.
It was afterward, for greater security, connected with Athens by the celebrated long walls. Sulla destroyed its fortifications and arsenals, and it never recovered from the blow. Piraeus had become even in the time of Strabo an insignificant village. During the middle ages the harbor was called Drako or Porto Leone; the latter name coming, according to some authorities, from two brazen lions which long ornamented the entrance to the port, but were carried away by the Venetians in 1687; according to others, from a white marble lion formerly placed upon the beach below the port. The adjacent harbors of ancient Munychia and Zea bore at the same period the names Phanari and Stratiotiki, and all these names were perhaps more commonly used than the ancient ones down to the end of the Turkish rule. (See Athens, vol. ii., pp. 58, 59).