When exploring a new place I love checking out the important monuments, buildings and museums but I also love escaping the city for some much needed down time, a green escape if you will. A place to grab a coffee or read a book and recharge, ready for the next adventure. While Athens isn’t the greenest of cities there are a few green escapes that were my favourite places for some time out whilst travelling. They’re central, spacious, full of history and all worth a visit while you’re in the capital.
This is a fantastically central green escape, situated directly across Syntagma square the National Gardens are the perfect place to zen out and escape the city. The National Gardens, established in 1838, were once called the Royal Gardens as they belonged to the first King and Queen of Greece, King Otto and Queen Amalia. The palm trees that you see upon entrance on Amalias Avenue were planted by the queen herself. The gardens were renamed and opened to the public in 1920 and has since been a treasured sanctuary for Athenians and visitors alike.
American writer Henry Miller described his love the Athens National Gardens beautifully:
‘It remains in my memory like no other park I have known. It is the quintessence of a park, the thing one feels sometimes in looking at a canvas or dreaming of a place one would like to be in and never finds.
Situated right next to the National Garden, the Zappeion garden is another green escape you must visit while in the area.
In 1869 a plot of land was donated by the Greek Parliament to be dedicated to the revival of the modern day Olympic games, as per the request of wealthy Greek philanthropist Evangelos Zappas. This became home to the Zappeion and its gardens and sits between the National Gardens and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Since its construction the building has been used as a fencing hall during the Olympics and also the Olympic village, however today the building is used for conferences and exhibitions. The gardens here provide another peaceful spot to relax and unwind. Keep a look out for the turtle pond here too!
The Acropolis And The 7 Hills Of Athens
Athens was, according to legend, built on seven hills.
These hills include the Acropolis and the surrounding areas. They have a complex and diverse history, as do many things in Greece, and as you wander through the many paths that criss cross this beautiful part of the city you will find relief from the smell and shade offered by the cyprus trees and be able to sit and relax with incredible views of the Acropolis and the city.
Stavros Niarchos Foundation
This Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre is home to National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera.
While the building is an attraction in itself, the SNF also offers another green escape from the city. The tastefully landscaped garden allows you to walk amongst the olive trees or take a seat on the grass. Here you can also enjoy a free tour inside the centre, catch a free screening of a classic film at the outdoor cinema in the garden or simply be dazzled by the fountains musically choreographed display every hour. A walk along the canal outside the centre offers stunning views of this architectural masterpiece.
- To see what events are on at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation click here
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