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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

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
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