A short distance from Athens, Eleusis was the centre of the cult of goddess Demeter, who embodied Earth’s fertility. It was the place where the famous Eleusinian Mysteries took place. Initially it was a rite symbolising the circle of life and nature, but it gradually evolved into a mystic cult whose initiates believed offered them protection in the afterlife.
For 15 centuries, thousands of people were initiated in these Mysteries (which probably reenacted the abduction of Demeter’s daughter, Persephone) and empathized with their goddess’s agony over her daughter’s loss, followed by rejoicing at her return from the Underworld.
After the 4th century CE, devotees no longer travel along the Sacred Road to take part in Demeter’s mysteries. Yet, every spring, nature celebrates in its own way the return of Persephone and the earth blooms again.