In 404 BC, the Spartan fleet under Lysander blockaded Piraeus and subsequently Athens surrendered to the Spartans, putting an end to the Delian League and the war itself.Piraeus would follow the fate of Athens and was to bear the brunt of the Spartans' rage, as the city's walls and the Long Walls were torn down; the Athenian fleet surrendered to the victors and some of the triremes burnt, while the neosoikoi were also pulled down.Through the centuries, the area was increasingly silted and flooding ceased, and thus by early classical times the land passage was made safe.
In prehistoric times, Piraeus was a rocky island consisting of the steep hill of Munichia, modern-day Kastella, and was connected to the mainland by a low-lying stretch of land that was flooded with sea water most of the year, and used as a salt field whenever it dried up.
Consequently, it was called the Halipedon, meaning the 'salt field', and its muddy soil made it a tricky passage.
Consequently, it became the chief harbour of ancient Greece, but declined gradually after the 4th century AD, growing once more in the 19th century, especially after Athens' declaration as the capital of Greece.
In the modern era, Piraeus is a large city, bustling with activity and an integral part of Athens, acting as home to the country's biggest harbour and bearing all the characteristics of a huge marine and commercial-industrial centre.
The port of Piraeus is the chief port in Greece, the largest passenger port in Europe servicing about 20 million passengers annually.
With a throughput of 1.4 million TEUs, Piraeus is placed among the top ten ports in container traffic in Europe and the top container port in the Eastern Mediterranean.
After the second Persian invasion of Greece, Themistocles fortified the three harbours of Piraeus and created the neosoikoi (ship houses); the Themistoclean Walls were completed in 471 BC, turning Piraeus into a great military and commercial harbour.
The city's fortification was farther reinforced later by the construction of the Long Walls under Cimon and Pericles, with which Piraeus was connected to Athens.
The city was largely developed in the early 5th century BC, when it was selected to serve as the port city of classical Athens and was transformed into a prototype harbour, concentrating all the import and transit trade of Athens.
During the Golden Age of Athens the Long Walls were constructed to connect Athens with Piraeus.
The Athenian fleet played a crucial role in the battle of Salamis against the Persians in 480 BC.