Border fortifications


Eleutherai, originally a Boeotian city, which was built in the 6th century BC. joined the Athenians to escape the domination of Thebes. The north side of the Athenian 4th century fortifications is virtually complete, comprising eight towers, about 40 meters apart, with a 3.5 m high wall in between. The course of the walls is also clearly recognizable, with the foundations of more towers and several small gates and one large one. The strategic position of Eleutherai between Attica and Boeotia is clearly shown on the picture above.


Just south of the modern village of Oinoë on the road from Athens to Thebes are the remains of a lonely watchtower, which must have been part of Attica’s border defenses. As far as can be seen, the tower must originally have had at least four floors. Of these, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors had loopholes for archers, and the top floor supposedly had two large windows for catapults. Material and construction make it clear that there have been two construction phases, the last of which was in the 4th century BC.

East of the modern village, and in much worse condition than the fort at Eleutherai, is the border fort Oinoë, a few kilometers from the beautiful monastery of Osios Meletios. Although a single tower is still clearly visible, the floor plan can only be followed from the air.


The Athenian border fortress Phyle, part of a chain of fortresses on Attica’s northern border, lies against the Parnes mountains and protects one of the passes towards Thebes. To the south is the plain of Eleusis. A beautifully situated monastery lies a short distance from Phyle. A cave with traces of the worship of Pan can be reached after a difficult climb. The antique fort is a busy picnic spot in spring and has impressive walls.


Virtually nothing remains of the last fort, that of Panakton (southwest of the present-day village of Prasino), which also guarded a pass from Thebes. Still, it is originally older and more important than Phyle, which was built in the 4th century. Panakton, on the other hand, played a role in the Peloponnesian War as early as the 5th century and is mentioned by Thucydides. The main reason to make the climb up is the beautiful view from the high plateau of Skourta.