A Brief History Of The Athens Metro

Syntagma metro station  | © Badseed/WikiCommons
Syntagma metro station | © Badseed/WikiCommons
Photo of Ethel Dilouambaka
16 August 2016

Covering more than 135 kilometers with 61 stations and 4 interchanges, the Athens Metro network serves the Athenian agglomeration and parts of East Attica. Since its inauguration, the Athens Metro has provided passengers with shorter commute times and removed more than 375,000 cars per day from the congested streets while curbing pollution. Its construction, with works started in 1992, was much-needed and has resulted in the discovery of no less than 30,000 artifacts buried in the ground.

In the wake of the 2004 Olympic Games, the Greek capital was relying heavily on individual cars, buses, trolleys, and the former railway line (built in 1869) connecting the port of Piraeus to the city center to accommodate the transportation needs of its population. But this made Athens one of the most highly polluted and congested cities on the continent.

The terminal of the Athens-Piraeus Electric Railway (Metro system green line) at Piraeus | © Badseed/WikiCommons

Digging works for two underground lines had begun in 1992. But it wasn’t easy considering the fact that Athens is more than 3,000 years old and, therefore, many unearthed treasures lie beneath the city. As such, more than 50 archaeologists were commissioned to help with excavation works. Every time construction workers found artifacts, digging was suspended and archaeologists took over until all the finds were safely extracted. Today, most of the unique discoveries are displayed in the major metro stations and at the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, and are accessible to anyone.

Stratigraphy of the antiquities wall of Athens Metro Syntagma station, with the pipe in the center belonging to the Peisistratid aqueduct. | © Badseed/WikiCommons

Two of the metro’s main lines, Line 2 (red) and Line 3 (blue), were inaugurated in 2000. Line 3 was extended to the airport in 2004 and to Agia Marina in 2013, while Line 2 was extended to Anthoupoli in 2013 as well. Plans for a fourth line are underway with an expected opening set for 2025. Expanding over 33 kilometers, the new line would add 30 new stations to the network.

Egaleo station of Athens Metro system | © Badseed/WikiCommons

Though Athenians suffered with the major traffic jams and deviations caused by the metro works, the pristine marble metro stations (marble is as common in Greece as concrete is elsewhere) today make Athenians very proud of the metro and thankful for its existence.

Map of the Athens metro | © Anastasios/WikiCommons

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