The archaeological site of Eleutherai, on the old Athens-Thebes National Road, north of the Villia junction, encompasses part of the lowland and rocky hill, where the ancient fortress, known as Gyftokastro, stands. Eleutherai was allegedly the birthplace of Dionysus, who founded the homonymous city and was thus called Dionysus Eleuthereus. Originally a Boeotian city, Eleutherai went over to Athens in the sixth century BC. The cult statue of Dionysus Eleuthereus was reportedly moved from Eleutherai to Athens on Peisistratus' orders, leading to the establishment of the homonymous sanctuary on the south slope of the Acropolis. Strategically located on the borderline of the Athenian territory, with control over the narrow passage between Athens and Thebes and overlooking the plain of Oinoe, Eleutherai was part of the Athenian defence network in the fourth century BC. The archaeological site has been cleared of undergrowth.
Author E. Mpaziotopoulou - Valavani, archaeologist
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