Not far from Monastiraki’s bustling market, you'll find Kerameikos, the trendy neighborhood, and Kerameikos, an ancient cemetery—the latter a beautiful place for archaeology buffs to wander, without the crowds of the Acropolis. (In Greek mythology, Keramos, the son Dionysus and Ariadne, became the patron god of potters and before this land was used as a burial ground, it was apparently home to numerous pottery studios.) The cemetery contains some remnants Athens’ ancient city walls as well as a ruin of the Sacred Gate, used only by ancient pilgrims in ceremonies to the goddess Athena. And, of course, many grave markers and tombs, some of prominent Athenians, dating from from 1200 B.C.E. to about 200 C.E. The site’s rich history is captured in a small museum near the main entrance. If you see large tortoises wandering around, it’s not your mind playing tricks on you: About 140 live here among the graves.
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