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Located just behind the Greek parliament building, next to Syntagma Square, just few minutes walk from the Athens flat.

Zapion National Garden in Athens

Picnicking with the children at the National Gardens on a Saturday has become a common pastime for local Athenian families and is a great way to spend a sunny summer's day when the days are long.

 The National Garden Athens Greece

The gardens used to be called the Royal Gardens because they were the gardens of the king and the locals are very proud of this lovely green space in a city which doesn't actually have many parks.

They have a collection of plants and trees from all over the world and plenty of water features which add coolness in the heat, a small zoo, duck ponds, resident cats, a Botanical Museum, a playground and lots of wide-open space for children to play in.

 Zappeion National Gardens

For children who love books, the gardens are also home to a Children's Library.

There are many beautiful areas to relax in the shade and get some respite from the busy city of Athens, ideal for walking or running and children play.

Locals enjoy playing games together at makeshift tables and often they don't mind if you want to join them.

Published in Short walks nearby
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A mere 8km outside of Athens, Diomidous Botanical Garden sits like a green haven in amidst the bustling city; 1,800 hectares of peaceful tranquillity in the western suburbs of Haidari. Its extensive array of flora includes a number of rare species as well as a selection of trees from Africa, Asia and Australasia.

DiomidousBotanicalGarden1

Used as an area to study for students from the University of Athens it's also a botanists dream with a number of pharmaceutical plants.
The Diomidous Botanical Gardens are a unique ecosystem housing both wild and cultivated species (organized by geography and theme).
A historical plants section offers up species mentioned in Greek mythology and the Old Testament, such as the laurel dedicated to Apollo (Laurus nobilis), the ivy dedicated to Dionysus (Hedera helix) and the narthex (Ferula communis), the giant fennel stalk in which Prometheus hid fire stolen from Zeus.

DiomidousBotanicalGarden2

Photo courtesy: Paris Tavitian (lifo)

The Herbarium includes 19,000 dried plant samples, most from protected areas belonging to the NATURA 2000 network.

After a cooling stroll along the bamboo path, visit the section on plants and economy, where you’ll find species that contribute to the world of modern commerce: fruits, vegetables, wood, fabrics, pigments, resins, scents and spices. Don’t miss the Egyptian lotus pond; as you’ll learn, it’s a misnomer, since the lotus originated in Asia.
Among the medicinal plants, you’ll find aloe, balsam, ginger, lavender and rosemary. In the nearby nursery and greenhouse, you’ll find sugar cane, pepper, cacti and endangered species.

Note: Cars, motorbikes, bicycles and pets are not permitted in the gardens. Ball games are strictly forbidden. Children under 14 years old must be escorted at all times.

Guided tours: Specialists conduct tours from Monday to Friday, by prior arrangement.
Call the Diomidous Botanical Gardens at 210-5811557.

DiomidousBotanicalGarden3

Visit it`s website for more info

How to get there:

 Take the Metro to Egaleo and then grab bus No. 801, 811, 845, 866 or X63

 A Taxi (up to 4 persons) will cost around 9€/one way

Published in Contemporary
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The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) covers an area of 210,000 sqm.

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

Designed by the architectural firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW), the SNFCC is a multifunctional urban complex that includes new facilities for the National Library of Greece, the Greek National Opera, and the Stavros Niarchos Park.

Renzo Piano envisaged the SNFCC rising out of the ground like a dislodged piece of the earth’s crust. As a result, an artificial hill is constructed and the roof of both the library and the opera house is emerging from it maintaining the slope. The library is lower and the ‘hill’ concludes with the opera house. The roof of the library will be covered with ground material. On top of the opera house, there will be a canopy supported on thin steel columns. According to Piano, "the canopy represents a cloud hovering over the highest point of the hill"

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

It is a recreation destination as it offers environmentally sustainable education, arts, playground and an interesting architectural structure.

The National Library of Greece
The nearly 24,000 m2 (235,000 sq. ft.) building combines traditional with technological innovation, conservation with information and communication. A nationwide digitization project helps make heritage materials available to the public and offers access to the Library’s various collections. Connectivity with other libraries both nationally and globally allows the Library’s users access to material abroad that is relevant to Greece or Hellenism. In addition, a Business Center provides the public with an active hub for enterprise, knowledge, and innovation, offering computer workstations, laptops, and wireless connectivity.

Holdings include over 4,500 manuscript codices from the 9th to the 19th century and a rich variety of important historical documents and archives.

The Greek National Opera

 National Opera in Stavros Niarchos Foundation

Covering an area of 28,000 m2, the new premises of the Greek National Opera can only be compared with the most modern opera houses in the world. The high aesthetics and acoustics, as well as the installations of the Main Stage (Stavros Niarchos Hall, 1400 seats), bolster a high-calibre artistic program. Furthermore, the Alternative Stage (400 seats) is a hub of research and creativity in the field of education, community and contemporary artistic creation, with special emphasis in all forms of the musical theater.
More info and scheduled performances 

The Stavros Niarchos Park

StavrosNiarchosFoundation Park

The Stavros Niarchos Park, a modern Landscape Architecture project has been designed in accordance with the principles of sustainability, ecosystems and the alternations of a place that is in constant evolution. It is a welcoming and open space, with plantings and a character that reflects the Mediterranean landscape.
Every Thursday at 13:00 there is a guided tour in English language.
Meeting point: Visitors Center (Evripidou & Doiranis, Kallithea)
Tour Duration: 90 '
Number of participants: 20 people

Please note
*The tour involves continuous walking down the Stavros Niarchos Park and the use of stairs. Estimated walking distance is calculated at 1 km.
*The tours at the Stavros Niarchos Park will be conducted under sufficient weather conditions.
*Τhe Stavros Niarchos Park is fully accessible for people with disabilities. For further information please check

Renting a bike
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center Bikes is a short-term bicycle rental service for children and adults able to use a bicycle.

There are 50 adult bikes available distributed across the three bike stations around the SNFCC (Visitors Center, Agora, Rear Agora) and 25 kids' bikes at the Visitors Center. (fifteen 20-inch bikes for children aged 5–8 and ten 24-inch bikes for children aged 9–13)
The SNFCC Bikes have three speeds and are equipped with hub dynamo powered headlight and taillight, bell, saddle with adjustable height, short-term safety lock and basket for carrying light objects along.
Hours of operation are 09:00-21:00 daily.
Registration 3€
Rate per hour (€3/5/10/20 prepaid pack options) 1€

Μore info about bicycle rental

How to get there

For convenient access to and from the SNFCC, transportation by shuttle bus is available daily to visitors, free of charge. A minibus bearing the SNFCC logo departs from Syntagma Square (intersection with Ermou Street), with a stopover at the Syggrou-Fix Metro station (Syggrou Avenue), and arrives at the south side of the SNFCC Canal (near the GNO building) and vice versa.

On Sundays, from 10.00 to 13.00, the shuttle bus runs only from Syggrou-Fix to the SNFCC and vice versa, due to the scheduled changing of the Presidential Guard in front of the Hellenic Parliament. In the event of special traffic regulations the schedule of shuttle bus, might be modified accordingly.
See the time timetable and other ways

Published in Contemporary

A geological phenomenon!

LakeOfVouliagmeni1

Vouliagmeni Lake, in the heart of the Athenian Riviera, is the hidden treasure of Attica’s nature. Situated on an idyllic landscape, this rare geological phenomenon is waiting to be discovered. The lake’s brackish waters which are continuously replenished both by the sea and the underground thermal springs offer a natural and unique thermal spa experience.

Vouliagmeni Lake is ranked by Greece’s Special Committee for the Protection of Natural Thermal Resources among the recognized thermal springs. The healing properties of the natural springs which supply the Lake are the result of the water’s high concentration in salts and minerals and in particular of potassium, sodium, lithium, ammonium, calcium, iron, chlorine and iodine. All this, in combination with the high water temperatures, help relieve afflictions of the musculoskeletal system, promote post-traumatic rehabilitation, and help with gynecological, and dermatological diseases.

LakeOfVouliagmeni2

The small fish called Garra Rufa are the indigenous and natural inhabitants of the Lake, promising visitors a unique peeling experience. Also known as Doctor Fish or Spa Fish, Garra Rufa takes on the task of relieving your skin of its dead cells and offering you a relaxing massage.

After your swim, you can relax while enjoying a coffee, a refreshing cocktail, your favorite dessert, or a light snack.

Operating hours: 08:00 – 19:30

How to get there:
- From Syntagma square buses 122 or A1 or A2 For details visit google transit
ticket price is 1.4€ per adult, one way.

More details at limnivouliagmenis.gr

Published in Attica
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Cape Sounion, is about 43 miles (69km) east of Athens, is a popular seaside resort loved by locals and visitors alike. Sounion is 9 km far from the city of Lavrion, the third biggest port in Attica. The port connects the mainland to the Cyclades. Furthermore, it is close to the mineral museum and to the Theatre of Thorikos – the oldest ancient theater in the country.

Cape Sounio beach

Cape Sounion, the southernmost tip of Attica, was a significant strategic point, whence the city-state of Athens controlled the sea passage to the Aegean Sea and Piraeus, the central port, as well as the Lavrion peninsula, comprising the rich silver mines thanks to which Athens emerged as a leading power in the 5th century BC.

Cape Sounion is noted as the site of ruins of an ancient Greek temple of Poseidon, the god of the sea in classical mythology. The remains are perched on the headland, surrounded on three sides by the sea.

CapeSounio1

According to Greek Mythology, Cape Sounion is the spot where Aegeus, King of Athens, leaped to his death off the cliff, thus giving his name to the Aegean Sea.[citation needed] The story goes that Aegeus, anxiously looking out from Sounion, despaired when he saw a black sail on his son Theseus's ship, returning from Crete. This led him to believe that his son had been killed in his contest with the dreaded Minotaur, a monster that was half man and half bull. The Minotaur was confined by its owner, King Minos of Crete, in a specially designed labyrinth. Every year, according to the myth, the Athenians were forced to send seven men and seven women to Minos as a tribute. These youths were placed in the labyrinth to be devoured by the Minotaur. Theseus had volunteered to go with the third tribute and attempt to slay the beast. He had agreed with his father that if he survived the contest, he would hoist a white sail on his return. In fact, Theseus had successfully overcome and slain the Minotaur, but tragically had simply forgotten about the white sail.

The site is a popular day-excursion for tourists from Athens, with the sunset over the Aegean Sea, as viewed from the ruins, a sought-after sight.

Apart from its world-renowned archaeological site, Sounion is also an upscale summer home location for Athenians. Construction flourished between the 1960s and 1970s, with massive yet minimal villas and condos erected. Sounion is one of the most expensive areas in Greece, with the value of some homes exceeding twenty million euros.

How to get there:
- You may hire a car so you can explore the whole area and enjoy some swimming at the nice beached around.
- By public bus. The public bus takes about an hour and a half. It is cheap (6.90€ one way) but makes lots of stops so it does take time.
From Athens to Sounion at 7:05 except Sundays & holidays, 8:05, 10:05, 11:05, 13:05, 14:05,15:30, 17:00.
From Sounion to Athens, 8:00, 10:00 except Sundays & holidays, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 16:00, 17:00, 19:00, 20:00
- Follow the organized guided one-day trips to Cape Sounion (about 49€ per adult)

More info 
wikipedia
odysseus.culture.gr

Published in Attica
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The cave is located on the east side of Ymittos mountain, above the city of Peania.

peania caveIt was discovered in 1928 by local residents and officially visited on 2/2/1928 by the journalist D. Chatzopoulos helped by a group of inhabitants, who published a description of the cave in the magazine Ellinikos Tachydromos (10/2/1928).
Its mapping was carried out in 1954 by I. and A. Petrochilos of the Hellenic Speleological Society.

Due to its natural beauty, the cave became a tourist site. Its development began during the early Sixties by the Hellenic Tourist Organization.
In 2000 the management of the cave was handed over to the Ephorate of Paleoanthropology & Spelaeology of Southern Greece (Hellenic Ministry of Culture). Geology - Geomorfology The cave has been formed within the beds of metamorphic limestone of Mount Hymettos. The surrounding bedrock belongs to the series of the Lower Marble and covers the greatest part of the eastern sides of Mount Hymettos. As it is the case with most of the caves around the world (more than 95%), the Koutouki Cave owes its creation to the

The cave has been formed within the beds of metamorphic limestone of Mount Hymettos. The surrounding bedrock belongs to the series of the Lower Marble and covers the greatest part of the eastern sides of Mount Hymettos. As it is the case with most of the caves around the world (more than 95%), the Koutouki Cave owes its creation to the carst phenomenon – the process of chemical deposition of calcium carbonate dissolved in water, when the latter contains carbon dioxide (CO2 ) –, although its final form was affected by tectonic activity. According to the existing evidence, the cave had initially no entrance. A great vertical diaclasis – a crack in the bedrock which is caused by tectonic movement – helped create the natural entrance on the cave’s roof 38.5 m high. Koutouki consists of a single chamber measuring about 60X60 m, which has been fragmented into smaller ones by stalactite/stalagmite walls developed along the diaclases of the bedrock. The cave floor is uneven due to past rock collapses which were subsequently covered with calcite deposits,

According to the existing evidence, the cave had initially no entrance. A great vertical diaclasis – a crack in the bedrock which is caused by tectonic movement – helped create the natural entrance on the cave’s roof 38.5 m high.
Koutouki consists of a single chamber measuring about 60X60 m, which has been fragmented into smaller ones by stalactite/stalagmite walls developed along the diaclases of the bedrock. The cave floor is uneven due to past rock collapses which were subsequently covered with calcite deposits, stalagmites and columns. The cave roof is very rich in speleothems, mainly stalactites, and it is inclined, following the direction of the limestone beds.

The rich rock decoration of stalactites and stalagmites and the unusual coloring of various speleothems – due to the action of certain oxides, creates a magic scenery and has inspired the romantic naming of some of the rock formations: Olympic Torch, Altars, Corals, Harmonium, Red Waterfall, etc.

Today a 17 m long artificial tunnel made for the visitors’ convenience leads into the cave, and the tourist route is about 350 m. The annual mean temperature is 17ο C and humidity is 90%. Fauna in the cave is very poor. There is no indication of bats, since the cave is being visited year round, and the presence of visitors along with the continuous use of light, create an unfriendly environment. Only an extremely small number of dolichopoda and myriopoda have been noted in the cave.

Tickets: Full €2, Reduced €1

Operating hours: Monday - Sunday 8.00-15.00

How to get there: It is best visited by car. Buses 125 and 308 from outside Athens’ Nomismatikopio Metro Station can take you as far as Peania, but it’s a further 4.5km uphill to the cave.

Published in Attica
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This is an ideal place to enjoy a day away from the busy center of Athens. If you carry your supplies you can enjoy a picnic at nature.

panorama kessariani1

Mount Ymettos is a long, narrow mountain of 20 km total length while its highest peak reaches 1,026 m.
6.4 Km (4.0 miles) away from Syntagma square

Highlights of the western part:

- The Orthodox Monastery of Kessariani

It is believed that the monastery was established in Byzantine times in ca. 1100 as this is the date of construction of the surviving church. But, the site has a far longer history as a cult center. In Antiquity, before being taken over by Christians in the 5th/6th centuries, it was probably a site dedicated to goddess Aphrodite.
Moreover, next to the Monastery there are remains of the 10th/11th centuries such as a large early Christian basilica to the west, and a smaller church further.

Early monks of Kessariani had their cells and refectory equipped with a Roman plan bath-house with hot and cold baths and a warm water heating system.
During the Ottoman occupation the luxurious bathhouse was transformed into a more utilitarian oil press, parts of which have been preserved.
During World War II all the trees of the surrounding hill were cut down. In about 1964 the Athens Friends of the Tree Society “Philodasiki” took charge and have planted them after. The large garden of the monastery is now a peaceful sanctuary.

Please keep in mind that Kessariani Monastery is an active church. So, if you intend to visit it dress appropriately. Inappropriate clothing includes sleeveless shirts, shorts, miniskirts e.tc.

Kessariani Monastery is an excellent starting point for a hike, a bicycle ride or just a picnic on Mt. Ymettos since it has paths that lead to the forest. The scenery and the full city view makes Kessariani Monastery a popular recreation spot, especially on the weekends.

panorama monastery

- The aesthetic forest

The whole area, successfully reforested by Philodassiki after extensive efforts was declared an “Aesthetic Forest” in the Presidential Decree PD 71/94. The aesthetic forest covers an area of 4,460 acres and surrounds the Byzantine Monastery of Kessariani.
It stretches from the edge of the city to the rocky slopes of Ymettos at 760 meters altitude. Medium and strong slopes dominate the area (30% - 65%) the area is ideal for leisure activities such as hiking and cycling.
Various species of trees grow in the forest, but cypresses and pine trees predominate.

- Botanical walk

The garden that originally established in 1964, on land near the Monastery of Kessariani, was the home of over 200 different species of plants from Southern and Central Greece, the Aegean islands and Crete.
Altitude: 360 - 410m
Orientation: Northern - Northwestern

Αlong the paths the visitor can see many species of plants and trees with their Greek and Latin names written on beautiful wooden signs.
The aim of the garden is threefold: conservation, education and pleasure. The conservation of rare and threatened with extinction species is the primary purpose of most botanical gardens today. The members of Philodassiki Society are very concerned with the ever increasing growth of plants on the Red Data Book list. Of paramount importance is, therefore, the existence of the nursery of Philodassiki for the multiplication of threatened plants and their reintroduction to the garden.

 

How to get there

Public bus 224 From Syntagma To Kessariani Cemetery takes about 50 min depending on traffic.
From the Cemetery the Monastery is 2 km walk (altitude difference 275m / 942 ft) .

By taxi 20-35 mins. Cost about 7€ one way.
For your way back you need to have an appointment with the driver or use a relevant app on mobile phone (e.g. BEAT, UBER). Additionally you can walk downhill to the cemetery where there are taxis.
If you go with your private car please note that car access to the forest is prevented by bars after the dusk, especially during the summer period. Also parking is not very easy on weekends as this for the Athenians is a popular place to go.

Published in Short walks nearby

Lycabetus Hill by night

Lycabettus also known as Lykavittos is a Cretaceous limestone hill in Athens, Greece at 300 meters (908 feet) above sea level and offers a great view of the city.

Pine trees cover its base, and at its two peaks are the 19th century Chapel of St. George, a theater, and a restaurant.

The hill is a tourist destination and can be ascended by the Lycabettus Funicular, a funicular railway which climbs the hill from a lower terminus at Kolonaki. The railway station can be found at Aristippou street.

Citty view from Lykabetus hill

Lycabettus appears in various legends. Popular stories suggest it was once the refuge of wolves, (lycos in Greek), which is possibly the origin of its name (means "the one [the hill] that is walked by wolves").

Mythologically, Lycabettus is credited to Athena, who created it when she dropped a limestone mountain she had been carrying from the Pallene peninsula for the construction of the Acropolis after the box holding Erichthonius was opened.

Lycabetus open air Theatre

The hill has a large open-air amphitheater at the top, which has housed many Greek and international concerts. Among the artists who have performed at the Lycabettus theatre included Ray Charles, Joan Baez, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown, Bob Dylan, Paco De Lucia, Al Di Meola, John Mc Laughlin, Gary Moore, Peter Gabriel, Black Sabbath, Nick Cave, Pet Shop Boys, Deep Purple, UB40, Placebo, Radiohead, Moby, Massive Attack, Faithless, Whitesnake, Tracy Chapman, Patti Smith, Vanessa Mae, Brian Ferry, Tito Puente, Buena Vista Social Club, Orishas and Scorpions.

Published in Short walks nearby
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There is nothing better than spending the day with your children at the largest zoo in Greece.

First of all do not forget to pick up a map of the park at the entrance as it will help you immensely during your tour. Beautiful animals from all over the world will enchant and impress the whole family as well as leave you with unique memories.

AtticaZooPark1

Attica Zoo Park has more than 350 animal species, and half of these species are endangered. As well as the exotic animals, a section of the park is dedicated to Greek fauna, where the brown bear is the stand-out attraction. Bird lovers will enjoy watching the many different kinds of birds. In the past Attica Zoo Park used to function as an Ornithological Park which had the third biggest collection of birds in the world.
Giraffes, zebras, antelopes, pink flamingos, jaguars, penguins, hippos, rhinos, camels … these are all amongst the incredible assortment of animals waiting for you. Try not to miss the Komodo dragons and the anteaters. One of the highlights of the park is the playful sea elephants and the fascinating dolphin show at the pool.

On Sundays, provided that the weather is good, the place can get crowded, especially during the peak hours of 11:00 a.m. – 14:00 p.m. which means that waiting time to get in can be more than 30 min. To avoid the hassle it is advised that you schedule your arrival at the park a bit earlier or later, or prebuy the tickets on-line.

How to get there: http://www.atticapark.com/en/visitus/how-get-here.274.html

The Zoo operates daily from 9:00 am until sunset. The entrance closes one hour before sunset.

Tickets
Adults €16
Children 3-12 years old €12
Under 3 years old Free Entry
Marine Mammals' Educational Programs (in addition to zoo ticket) €3
Family pass - 2 parents + 2 children (3-12 years old) €52
Family pass - 2 parents + 3 children (3-12 years old) €62

For information: tel:(+30)2106634724  -  Website: https://www.atticapark.com/?lang=en

How to get there: http://www.atticapark.com/en/visitus/how-get-here.274.html

Published in Kids will like it!
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