National Garden of Athens

Trip Start Apr 24, 2011
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Flag of Greece  , Attica,
Tuesday, December 13, 2011


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. The site of the closed kiosks reminded me of the economic crisis in Greece, something that I wanted to keep locked in my mind at least for this day. Well, it seems that this is something that it cannot be forgotten even for a while. It is clearly seen on the faces of the people. Nobody smiles here, and the one or two kiosks that remain open have artificial flowers which I hate, or sell cheap Chinese products. My God! I need to get to the National park faster to unwind and lose this tension. This place on previous years was full of life, with a skating ring and a huge fun fair with different amusement facilities with a huge merry-go-round and several smaller scattered in different squares in Athens. The huge merry-go-round was so crowded that you had to wait in long queues for more than 10 minutes to get a seat! The shops are closing one after the other and scarcely people will get in even with 40 or 60% discount. I wish I had not seen this because I truly feel bad….but luckily I am approaching the entrance of the National Garden. I am sure the beauty of nature will help me forget the bad situation we Greeks have to face even for the time I am in the garden. The governments for years proved thoroughly incompetent and took all the money away from the country. The most unfair of all is that the law is such that no politician goes to prison, and there is no sign of the stolen money coming back. It is only taxes and more taxes coming in almost every month, factories have closed and thousands of people are without work. It is so unfair for the normal citizens.

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. The Greek flora, the palm trees still give the National Garden a distinctive quality. The complete project was finished the year 1851-52. In 1927 the garden stopped being a private royal garden and was open to the public.

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.
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Comments

rossport
rossport on

what a lovely Park Popi one day i shall take a walk thru our Botanical gardens in the city and show you as well

greekcypriot
greekcypriot on

I believe yours will be more beautiful for sure. However, please do that and take photos. You will get the feeling of being a tourist in the city you live in …this is how I feel anyway and it is very pleasant at the same time.

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