Located on a metalliferous land, it was a vibrant centre of mining and metallurgical activities in antiquity until the late first century BCE, when operations ceased and the area was abandoned.
Thus, in 1865 the first Franco-Italian mining-metallurgical company, Roux-Serpieri-Fressynet C.E., was established which would soon be divided into two separate companies due to a fierce clash with the Greek government over the control of the ancient mining dumps (the infamous Lavreotiki Affair).
Thus, the ensuing activities of both the Greek Lavrion Metallurgical Company and the French Lavrion Mining Company (Compagnie Françaisedes Mines du Laurium) would influence the growth and architecture of the first centre of heavy industry in Greece, a genuine European port of high traffic and one of the most significant metallurgical centres worldwide. With the metallurgical industry waning at the end of the 20th century, the town has been exploring new possibilities, building upon its cultural and industrial heritage.
Museums, buildings of historical and architectural value and monuments of industrial history are found scattered around town, inviting you to discover the fascinating history of this small town. This does not mean that you are in for an 'educational' trip, if you decide to visit Lavrion. This lively coastal town, offers ample opportunities for relaxation, swimming, good food, entertainment and activities, such as hiking or diving.
Neighbourhoods and buildings
The architectural and housing development of Lavrion was largely influenced by its once blooming mining and metallurgical industry. Industrial buildings and facilities were evidently built to accommodate the needs of the companies that operated in the area in addition to the housing of their personnel. In addition, the ensuing economic growth prompted the construction of various elaborate buildings to cater for the religious, cultural and other needs of a flourishing community. Thus, the character of contemporary Lavrion, determined also by more recent interventions, is interestingly blended, with elements echoing its vivid industrial past.
Original Theme Music
In the 19th century, numerous buildings of the popular then neoclassical style were built, among which many survive until today. A representative example is the Euterpe building located on the edge of the palm tree park. Named after the Philharmonic Orchestra it was built to house upon an initiative undertaken by the high-ranking executives of the French Mining Company, it also served as a performance space for theatre and dance. The neoclassical building of Euterpe, boasting portraits of Sophocles, Orpheus, Mozart, and Verdi on its weathered ceilings, co-exists harmoniously with the rest of the buildings in the quarter of Kyprianos, including two impressive churches: the Orthodox Church of Evagelistria and the Catholic Church of Saint Barbara. In the latter, which constitutes a successful combination of gothic and neoclassical elements, you can admire the exceptional wall paintings dedicated by the Seprieris.
The influence of neoclassicism is also evident on the old Town Hall building, which is located at the central square of the town. It is an austere building with its cubic layout interrupted by a distinctive balcony in the façade, standing on which the Greek Prime Minister, Eleftherios Venizelos addressed residents of Lavrion in 1929 in an effort to promote a solution that would put an end to the strike of the mining workers. A few meters away lies the town's famous market (known as Psaradika). Built in 1885 by the Greek Metallurgical Company, the p-shaped construction of neoclassical style still constitutes the gastronomic heart of Lavrion with its numerous shops selling fish and meat as well as taverns and restaurants.
Another typical example of neoclassical architecture is the building of the Philomouses (music lovers) Association, also built by the Greek Metallurgical Company to house the town's Philharmonic Orchestra. Situated also at the central square, it constituted the second cultural centre of Lavrion, which together with Euterpe attest to the active involvement of its residents in arts.
Take the time to stroll around Lavrion so as to admire all the neighbourhoods and beautiful buildings that stand as a reminder of the town's significant industrial past. The development of this town is intrinsically linked with the mining industry and remnants are scattered literally everywhere, waiting to be discovered.