In the calm and protected waters of the Saronic Gulf, along the coastline which extends from Zea in Piraeus to the promontory of Sounion, this most beautiful section of Attica, which we call “our Riviera”, is home to a series of marinas which serve as oases for all types of motor-yachts and sailing vessels, large and small – and which also provide the ideal place for a leisurely stroll alongside the sea in a tranquil and cosmopolitan setting.
Agios Kosmas Marina: With the capacity to host up to 337 yachts ranging in size from 15 to 80 meters, Agios Kosmas Marina, right next to Glyfada and just 15 kilometers from the city center, is widely known for its exceptional location and facilities. Poseidonas Avenue, Ellenikon.
Flisvos Marina: In cosmopolitan Old Faliron, the marina has berths for 303 vessels, featuring luxury yachts longer than 35 meters. Only 6 kilometers from the center of Athens, Flisvos has a new commercial complex, an expansive esplanade and a variety of fine restaurants and cafes. Old Faliron, Athens.
Astir Marina – Vouliagmeni: Within this quiet bay of the Argosaronic Gulf, in a truly cosmopolitan corner of Attica, a “little” marina, Astir Marina – Vouliagmeni, offers just 103 berths for yachts up to 50 meters in length and comprises one of the city’s most beautiful spots for long, romantic walks. Apollonos 77 - Vouliagmeni.
Zea Marina: Across the Faliron Bay from Vouliagmeni, on the Eastern shore of the Peiraiki Peninsula, the Zea Marina is brimming with boats - and space for up to 670 motor-yachts and sailing vessels at both permanent and floating pontoon-docks. Zea, Piraeus.
Athens Marina: Just 7 kilometers from the city center, with mooring space for 130 yachts, including berths for yachts of 50 to 130 meters in length, Athens Marina offers a heliport and is famous for hosting some of the world’s most luxurious yachts. New Faliron.
Olympic Marina: Awarded the coveted “Blue Flag” for 16 consecutive years, the Olympic Marina offers 680 berths as well as a boatyard and repair unit. The marina is located in a strategic location – only 20 minutes from the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport. 77th Kilometer Athens–Sounion.
Greeks associate Kolokotronis Square with the beginning of Parliamentarian democracy in Greece in 1843, when Greece was declared a free and independent nation. Parliament was first housed in the Kontostavlos mansion, built in 1833 on the site of today’s square. After the destruction of the building by fire in 1854, Parliament then moved to a building on the Western side of the square, which was reconstructed from the courtyard of the Old Parliament. Today, this square represents a century of Parliamentarian tradition in Greece and is dominated by a bronze equestrian statue of Theodoros Kolokotronis.
The Old Parliament
The mansion which housed the Old Parliament was built in 1858 according to plans by the French architect François Boulanger at the instigation of Queen Amalia in order to house both the Senate and the Parliament. However, after King Otto was deposed, the Senate ceased to exist; the plans were reconfigured, and the building was turned over to the Hellenic Parliament on 11 August 1875, with Harilaos Trikoupis presiding as Prime Minister. Here Parliament functioned uninterrupted for 60 years until 1935, when it moved permanently to the old Royal Palace. The Old Parliament building, in which so much of the nation’s history unfolded, has housed the National Historical Museum since 1962 and has been the site of countless exhibitions of historical and cultural interest.
Aside from the massive bronze equestrian statue of Kolokotronis, in the courtyard of the Museum there is a marble statue by Thomas Thomopoulos of the statesman Harilaos Trikoupis – as well as a statue of his arch-rival Theodoros Deliyiannis by Constantine Demetriades. The building, the square and these sculptures embody the history of Greece’s Parliamentary democracy and of the nation itself in the early 19th Century.
Going down Panepistimiou Street in the direction of Omonia Square, on your right you come upon three of Athens’ most important and impressive buildings, which “speak” in a majestic architectural language and comprise some of the capital city’s most beautifully preserved monuments. These buildings are not only remarkable architecturally but also represent institutions that have made important contributions to the city of Athens and to the Greek nation.
The building of the Academy of Athens was a gift of Simon Sinas before it housed the Academy. Built according to plans made by the Danish architect Theophilos Hansen in 1859, it was only finished years later in 1885. The building first housed the Numismatic Museum; then in 1914 it hosted the Byzantine Museum before being used for the General State Archives. Finally, it became the home of the Academy of Athens when it was established in 1926. The building has been characterized as the most important work of Theophilos Hansen and has been considered “the most beautiful neo-classical building in the world”. According to Hansen, the Academy building was inspired by the best examples of classical Greek architecture from the 5th century B.C. At the entrance there are statues of Socrates and Plato, while among the columns to the left and right are further statues of Apollo and Athena in her armor.
The building which has housed the National and Capodistrian University of Athens since 1841 (five years after it was established as Greece’s first University) was designed by Danish architect Christian Hansen (brother of Theophilos) in 1839. Influenced by the principles of classicism, the building nevertheless conforms to its surroundings and to human scale and needs. The building as a whole forms a rectangle comprising two “T-shaped” wings to either side with corresponding courtyards. The building was completed in 1864 with the construction of an Ionic portico in front and was decorated with murals by the painter Karl Rahl.
The National Library of Greece, whose archives and collections will soon be transferred to the gleaming new spaces of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s Cultural Center, contains one of the greatest collections of Greek Manuscript Codices worldwide (approximately 4,500 volumes). The building has hosted these treasures since 1903 and was a gift to the Greek State from Panagis Vallianos. Designed by Theophilos Hansen, its construction was supervised by Ernst Ziller and is considered a fine example of mature neo-classicism.
Hidden among the wooded greenery of Mt. Hymettus, the Monastery at Kaisariani , built by the Byzantine Macedonians in the 11th century , is one of Greece’s most significant medieval Christian monuments, in a setting of great natural beauty, so close to the center of the city. A stroll along the forest paths on Hymettus is not only a chance to explore the delights of nature – but of history as well.
The Monastery at Kaisariani was the richest and most important of all the monasteries built along the slopes of Mt. Hymettus from the 10th to the 12th centuries. Its main church (the Katholikon) was erected on the foundations of an ancient temple and incorporates many of its architectural elements. The church is dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, and most of its wall paintings belong to the Cretan school of medieval iconography. The wall surrounding the monastery contains, in addition to the church, the monastery’s dining hall and baths – both buildings dating from the 11th century – an old olive press and the monks’ cells. Outside the wall lies the cemetery and a somewhat newer church.
ΤHE LANDSCAPED FOREST
The forest which embraces the monastery covers an area of 4,460 stremmas (over 1,000 acres) at an altitude of up to 760 meters above the sea. This marvelously diverse and beautiful natural treasure consists of naturally occurring trees and plants as well as literally millions of trees planted through the efforts of the Philodassiki (“Friends of the Forest”) Society of Athens and the Ministry of Agriculture. Pines, cypresses, carob trees, redbuds (called “Judas trees” in Greece), oaks and acorns, acacias, eucalyptus, plane trees and olives predominate, while a rich variety of flowering brush and shrubs, grasses and wildflowers give the landscape the appearance of a Mediterranean quilt. Start at the foot of the mountain and climb along its winding paths. Enter the church and gaze up at its dome. Let the beauty of nature and of man’s creations carry you away and fill you with peace.