National Garden of Athens
Trip Start Apr 24, 2011
79Trip End Ongoing
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The National Garden
I leave the Zappeion Exhibition Centre behind taking the side road of the Zappeion gardens to get to Vasilissis Amalias Avenue. I want to enter the National Garden from Syntagma entrance and I pass through an alley with trees on both sides. Many small white kiosks have been put up for the holidays selling Christmas gifts and decorations. On the side of Zappeion there is a kind of fun fair for children's rides. Parents with their children will come much later in the afternoon and when the colourful lights are on this place will look beautiful. It is totally different in the morning and for me it is disappointing. It is not what I expected to see and it is a huge contrast to the round area. I feel as if it was put up to brighten some spirits but without children and in daylight it is not fun at all.
I change my pace and try to walk pass the alley fast
Finally I am here and I truly want to leave behind everything and just enjoy the moments spent here. What a superb park to be! The National Park covers a total area of 154 hectares and it is open from sunrise to sunset.
On my way to work I used to pass through the National Garden each morning when we used to live in Athens. I enjoyed walking through the narrow paths among the very tall trees which offer oxygen and it is like an oasis in the hot summer months. I had always the feeling that I was in the countryside and I used to come here whenever I felt homesick missing Cyprus, my friends and relatives. Of course I still come here and believe me it is always beautiful the year round.
The whole idea and the creation of this beautiful oasis came from the first king Othon, the king of modern Greece who happened to be Bavarian. He decides to build a palace in the centre of Athens. He wants it to be very impressive similar to the one in Versailles and at the same time to reflect the nobility of Greece. This palace now houses the Greek Parliament. I don’t want to refer to names of the different botanists who were called to design and plant this beautiful Park. One thing is sure that it took quite some time to be finished because it was not an easy task at all. Thousands of plants had to be transported and have the irrigating system ready to water them. 15.000 plants were carried from Italy, others from France, Spain, Germany, Algeria, Egypt and other neighbouring countries. Many species of ornamental plants that are now popular in Greece were first planted on Greek soil in the National Garden
Queen Amalia included cultural elements in the park so there is a Children’s Library in the premises, half a hectare of Playground for games, a small Zoo with birds and animals, a small Botanical Museum, and a Sun Dial found at Amalias street. The iron polygonal seat of the Queen still exists and it is found near the playground. It is located on a high rock, the place where she used to sit and admire the ancient monuments. Six busts of historical figures are found in the premises and among other things there are 6 small ponds –the biggest of which is around 1.000 sq.metres. There is a small wooden bridge and a small waterfall with the two small islets that double as fountains. The ponds help for watering the entire area.
The shaded narrow pathways have a combined total length of 7.5 Km. There are more tan 7.000 trees and 40.000 bushes in here, 25% are deciduous and 75% evergreen. About 100 are part of the Greek flora and 400 were brought from abroad. The water used for irrigation comes from an ancient aqueduct.
And suddenly while I enjoy this pleasant stroll in the National Park I notice that my camera’s battery is flat! I am disappointed because I was planning to get to the other side to the Kallimarmaro –The Panathenaic Stadium of Athens which I will probably go another time.