A day at the National Garden of Athens
Right at the heart of Athens’s lively city center, and not that far from the Syntagma metro station, you will find a place of unparalleled beauty, usually ignored, however, by the locals. It is an oasis in the center of Athens, giving you the chance to escape the restless rhythms of the big city, especially after an exhausting walk around the nearby sights, the Acropolis, Plaka, Monastiraki, Thission, or Psyrri. We’re talking about the National Garden of Athens, the perfect place to experience the “green side” of the big city.
So, here’s how to make the most of your day at the National Garden of Athens!
Location and historical facts
Located between the Greek Parliament building and the Zappeion Hall, just across the Panathenaic, or Kalimarmaro Olympic Stadium, the National Garden extends to an area of approximately 15.5 hectares. It was created in 1840 by Amalia, the first queen of modern Greece, as part of the then Royal Palace’s garden with the contribution of the German agronomist Friedrich Schmidt. According to his designs and ideas, Schmidt imported more than 500 species of plants to decorate the garden, most of which came from Italy and other parts of Greece, and various animal species, such as peacocks, ducks, and turtles. The result was the creation of this stunning garden that remains almost unchanged until today, with its 7,000 trees and 40,000 bushes.
A way out of the buzzing center
Entering the gate from Queen Amalia Avenue, you are greeted by tall-standing palm trees that were planted by Queen Amalia, when the Garden first began being designed. In front of the entrance, you will see the well-known sundial that will indicate you the time you step inside the Garden depending on the sun’s position and the shadow it creates, as it lands on the clock’s hand. Inside the Garden, you can also find six ponds, ancient ruins, Corinthian capitals of columns, impressive mosaics, and other features, all of which add to the magnificence and unique landscape of the Garden. It is the ideal place for those seeking a way out from the noise and fast changes of Athens’s everyday life.
Take in the scenery and admire the statues
Take a walk down the narrow pathways, surrounded by the lush flora and fauna, pass by romantic couples sitting on one of the benches, or try to keep up with those selecting the Garden for their afternoon run. Take the chance to admire the monument to Lord Byron, which stately stands depicting this great British poet and famous Philhellene, or the statue of Ioannis Varvakis, a national hero, distinguished member of the Greek and Russian communities and who was at the service of Catherine the Great, empress of Russia. Moreover, you can also see the busts of Dionysios Solomos, the writer of the Greek national hymn, Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first governor of Greece, and the Greek poet and politician Aristotelis Valaoritis.
Locate the hidden gems inside the Garden
Having completed your trip around the Garden, by walking every inch of its uneven and forest-like pathways, it is time to look around the buildings hidden inside. The Garden has a conservatory, a café and a children’s library. At the conservatory, you get to witness where the plants used to be cultivated and taken care of, so that they would be properly prepared to be replanted in the Garden. The small café is the opportunity for those in need of a quick break from walking around all day long to enjoy a cold coffee, soda and an extra cold glass of water.
Take a trip into mythology and Aesop's fables
The children’s library is a not-so-known, yet invaluable addition to the Garden, as it was built in 1984. The library today has more than 6,000 books available for any vivid reader (or bookworm, if you don’t mind me saying), in comparison to the 1,500 ones that there were on the library’s shelves, when it first opened. It has two reading rooms, a music and film room and a fairy tale room, which attract many children and adults eager to be lost and carried away by the lucid and eloquent writing of the library’s books.
Moreover, the garden offers the chance for families to come together, take a trip to fiction, learn more about Aesop's fables, and have a bonding experience over a picnic among the trees. All of these can be achieved thanks to our "Feast of Fables" interactive tour where ancient tales come to life. Get more info here.
The Athens National Garden is the most ideal place for those looking for a way out from their daily routine or for an opportunity to relax surrounded by the beauty of nature. It is, moreover, the place where anyone could go seeking to spend some time with their beloved ones, or with their significant other. More particularly, it is the place that brings together great parts of the Greek culture and history, available to be witnessed by anyone from dawn till dusk.