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A REFRESHING SWIM, EVEN AT NIGHT, A FEW MINUTES FROM ATHENS

Athens has many safe and sandy beaches, with shallow, clear waters for both morning and evening swims. In the heat of August, give it a try and stay cool!

The hospitable waters of Attica

Attica is truly blessed: fully two thirds of its long coastline boast terrific clean waters and safe, sandy beaches – offering countless opportunities for cool, refreshing fun. At the height of summer, Attica’s welcoming waters are an oasis of relaxation. Since most of the capital’s residents are away on vacation, getting around is quick and easy, while distances within the city or to the beach seem hardly anything at all. And the beaches, whether organized or not, are unexpectedly quiet and enjoyable, without the crowds of early summer, and with superb service and clean beach lounge chairs and umbrellas.

Some of the many great options

From Glyfada to Sounion there are dozens of beaches with wonderful sand and blue flags:
Legraina, Thimari, Harakas, the beach by the famous “ΚΑΠΕ” sign (Centre for Renewable Resources), Limanakia, Aghia Marina, Kavouri and Mavro Lithari – not to mention the beaches around Sounion and Lavrion a little further away. These are just some of the reliable, favourite choices along Attica’s southern coast. To the north, the red and blue harbors of Rafina, Mati, Aghios Andreas, Marathon with its dozens of beaches, Grammatiko and Sesi – these beaches are generally frequented by residents of Athens’ northern suburbs – but also attract a wider following as well. To the east, the beaches of Kakia Thalassa, Erotospilia in Porto Rafti and Aghios Spiridonas are peaceful and welcoming even on an August weekend. And for those willing to travel a bit further to the Corinthian Gulf, Psatha and the small family beaches of Porto Germenos more than compensate for the extra time and distance.

 

7 AUGUST: THERE’S A FULL MOON TONIGHT, AND IT’S BEAUTIFUL…

August’s full moon is simply majestic. From a scientific standpoint, the main effect of the full moon are the strong tides which occur every six hours - caused by the gravitational attraction between the earth and moon. The effect of the full moon on humans, however, goes beyond the scientific and involves feeling, emotions and moods. The light of the full moon illuminates and dramatizes our nights and awakens both romance and desire.

The colour of the full moon in August

The unique thing about August’s full moon is the special colour it takes just after rising and just before setting – a phenomenon linked to its height above the horizon. At these times, the moon owes its special hue to a function of the eye, which makes its azure colour appear to us as red or crimson. And if the atmosphere is especially loaded with solid particles, the colour becomes even more intense and the moon even more majestic.

Enjoy this full moon from an archaeological site

The Acropolis, the hills of Philopappos and Lykabettos, the area around the Observatory in Thissio and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion are five exceptional places in and near Athens where you can enjoy the full moon of August. But if you would prefer not to share this spectacle with many others, you can stand in one of the winding alleys of Anafiotika and simply look up. Somewhere between the tiny old houses you will see the moon glowing brightly in the nighttime sky.

…and from the rooftop of the Athenaeum InterContinental Athens

After your stroll and before the full moon sets – or before your stroll while the moon is rising, secure a seat at the bar or restaurant of the Première. With the Parthenon directly across from you, the moon seemingly close enough to touch and a wealth of delicious food and drinks at your command – here you will enjoy the most beautiful full moon of your life.

THE GARDENS OF ATHENS – UNEXPECTED OASES

Ardittos Hill and the National Gardens together comprise the only obvious oases of green in a rocky capital city which is densely and chaotically built. Nevertheless, while walking through the city of Athens, one stumbles upon any number of small, tranquil pockets of shade and tranquility offering a welcome refuge from the summer sun. Such vest-pocket parks, gardens and courtyards more than compensate for their rarity by their unique and hospitable character.

The gardens of the Byzantine and Christian Museum: On central Vas. Sophias Avenue, and next to the friendly dirt paths radiating from the “Villa of the Duchess of Plakentia”, which houses Orthodoxy’s most valuable religious treasures, the ever cool and welcoming Café Bistrot Ilissia beckons us to enjoy a cool drink or light meal in the shade of bitter orange and Cypress trees. Vas. Sophias 22.
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The summer café of the National Archaeological Museum: At Greece’s most important museum, hosting the country’s most precious finds from antiquity, a peaceful outdoor café invites you to relax and compose your thoughts after your great journey through the world of ancient Greek history. Patission 44.
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The garden of the Athens City Museum: On Paparigopoulou Street, between Stadiou and Parnassou, there is a museum devoted to the history of Athens. Within this lovely building is a tiny garden where you can relax with a refreshing drink and delicious snack. At Ioanni Paparigopoulou Street 5-7.
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The garden of the Numismatic Museum: In the heart of the city center, on Panepistimiou Street, the Numismatic Museum occupies the imposing mansion formerly owned by the famous industrialist, archaeologist and philhellene Heinrich Schliemann. In the courtyard just behind the mansion is an unexpected and welcome surprise – a small café offering a respite from the summer heat and a refreshing pause before you continue your exploration of the city. Panepistimiou 12.
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The Mediterranean gardens of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s Cultural Center: Stroll along the fragrant paths lined with thousands of herbs and aromatic shrubs. Open from 6 a.m. until midnight. Syngrou Avenue 364.
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ATHENS’ FIRST MANSION HAS BECOME A MUSEUM

At #96 Hadrianou Street there is a stately house which, from the 16th Century until today, has stood apart thanks to its history, its religious significance and its architecture. This house, known as “The Benizelos Mansion” after its first owner Angelos Benizelos, scion of an aristocratic family and the father of Saint Filothei, has been restored with the combined support of the Greek State and the Orthodox Church – and is now open to the public as a museum.

The mansion’s historical significance

The house is a classic example of pre-revolutionary urban Athenian architecture and provides eloquent testimony to life in Athens during the years of the Ottoman occupation. The Benizelos Mansion was built in the 16th Century, with the enclosed overhanging balcony (hayiati) most likely added in the 18th Century, at a time when Athens was a small provincial town in the sprawling Ottoman Empire. Accounts from that time by various travelers refer to the house in their journals or depict it in their sketches and paintings. On the property’s south side can be seen an old olive press as well as the remains of two small dwellings, one of which was the home of Saint Filothei. On the lower level, columns support simple arches, while a stone staircase leads to the courtyard and the upper level. The rest of the building, with its large windows, skylights and semi-enclosed spaces is quite representative of aristocratic architecture in the time around 1800.

The restoration of the mansion as a museum

The restoration of the mansion was undertaken by Professor Yiannis Kizis and his colleagues at the National Polytechnic University of Athens at the behest of the building’s owner, The Archbishopric of Athens, while the overall responsibility for the functioning of the museum belongs to the Archbishopric’s philanthropic organization “Apostoli”.

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