Royal Athens tour | The BluebloodsAthens, Greece
Blueblood Athens tour is a fascinating self-guided audio walking tour in the heart of Athens. Discover credible and original stories about the glory of greek royal families written by top local professionals after extended research. Take your tour now and enjoy it instantly on your smartphone device.
The tour reveals a secret hiding in plain sight. Scattered among the modern office buildings and the endless apartment blocks lie the royal residences and palaces erected to project the power and the glory of the Greek royal families. Explore the royal past of Athens and discover the untold stories of the men and women who introduced a hint of royal glamour in the birthplace of democracy.
The tour begins in the oldest and least pretentious royal residence, home to King Otto and Queen Amalia who moved in as newlyweds while waiting for the completion of the main palace. The government leased two newly-built houses on the outskirts of Athens for the use of the royal couple. Only half of the complex remains and houses the Museum of the City of Athens. Amalia found the place small and plain, so she anxiously awaited for the building of the new palace in Syntagma Square. This was the largest neoclassical building in Athens and despite many critical comments and opinions for its spartan and austere look, it served as the palace for many decades. Today it houses the Greek Parliament.
Right next to the palace is the National Garden. Initially designed as the private royal garden, it is the brainchild of Queen Amalia who was determined to transform the arid landscape of Athens. She was passionate about palm trees and wanted the palace garden to acquire a touch of “The East.” She hoped that future generations would remember her as “the queen of the palm trees.” To the east of the garden there was a fenced area used for a zoo but in 1868 the new king of Greece, George I, decided that the small zoological collection was no longer required and ordered its removal. The space was subsequently used for the needs of the Royal Guard with the building of army barracks. Today it houses the men of the National Guard who participate in the colourful and memorable changing of the guards before the Parliament building each hour, dressed in the traditional fustanella. And of course no tour of royal Athens would be complete without a visit to the “Crown Prince’s Palace,” a gift by the people of Greece to Constantine, the heir to the throne, on the occasion of his birth in 1868.
1. Fit for a King (or two)A large corner lot close to everything. Your brand new dream home combines mountain and ocean views. The spacious living rooms and the elegant porches with Doric columns create an experience you must see to believe.
2. Contemporary GlamourReady to downsize? This budget-smart mansion is perfect for contemporary couples tired of high maintenance costs. A timeless masterpiece with well-maintained gardens in a quiet neighborhood perfect for relaxation.
3. A Royal LandscapeThe Royal Garden was designed as an appendage to the palace. The arid countryside Amalia encountered upon her arrival in Athens was transformed into a paradise where royalty could escape the squabble of politics.
Out with the old
Fit for a King (or two)The royal household was equipped with furniture and appliances from France at a staggering cost of 350,000 drachmas. There were magnificent frescoes, marble staircases, and gilded mirrors. Following Otto’s expulsion in 1862, the new king and queen (George and Olga) embarked on a major redecoration project. The frescoes were covered with heavy fabrics, the old furniture was put in storage and new pieces were purchased from local retailers or manufactured by the royal carpenters. Contemporary fashion demanded that the palace resembles an upper middle-class household, a common trend across Europe.
The most corrupt referendum…ever!
Contemporary GlamourIn 1935, Georgios Kondylis took power and decided to call for a referendum to re-establish the monarchy. There was no effort to maintain even a semblance of fairness. Those who voted in favour of the king’s return cast a blue piece of paper in the ballot box, while the opposite side cast a red piece of paper. Those who cast a red paper could be beaten up. The monarchy received 97.88% of the vote, an implausibly high percentage given the fact that many major parties abstained from the process. In addition, the final tally revealed that more than 300,000 additional voters had somehow cast a ballot compared to the last fair elections held just two years earlier.
A Royal LandscapeAmalia was determined to enrich the Royal Garden with a bewildering variety of exotic plants. The queen of Spain sent rose bushes from Granada, the Ottoman sultan made valuable gifts from his personal garden, while Muhammad Ali, the viceroy of Egypt, delighted Amalia with his gift of palm trees. In the autumn of 1851 the empress of Brazil, Dona Teresa Cristina, sent to Amalia 75 evergreen trees and shrubs. The plants arrived in Piraeus almost two months after their departure from Brazil. An amazed Amalia noted that "distances are now eliminated."
The team behind the stories at Clio Muse consists of a dedicated long-haired art conservator, an inquisitive bespectacled historian, a passionate feminist curator, and a gifted graphic designer with a permanent tan.
|Address||Museum of the City of Athens (Mouseion Tis Poleos Ton Athinon)|
|Starting point||7 loannou Paparrigopoulou, Athina (Μetro station Panepistimio)|
|Finishing point||133 Leof. Vasilisis Amalias, Athina|
|Areas||Syntagma, National Garden, Klafthmonos Square|
|Opening hours||Museum of the City of Athens: Mon., Wed. to Fri. 09:00-16:00. Sat., Sun. 10:00-15:00 | National Garden: Daily from sunrise to sunset|
|Additional admission||Museum of the City of Athens: general admission 5€|
Why take a self-guided tour?
This is a self-guided tour based on the award-winning storytelling concept developed by Clio Muse and the fascinating narratives prepared by our handpicked destination experts.
You can enjoy each multilingual tour by using your smartphone or tablet at your own pace even if you are offline. The interactive map on your screen will guide you step-by-step as you explore all points of interest along your route. Each stop comes with a selection of our signature stories allowing you to tailor the tour experience to your personal interests and schedule.
After downloading Clio Muse app, you can access this tour and activate it any moment you wish and also repeat it any time. To best enjoy our multimedia self-guided tour (comprising maps, video, audio and text) we recommend the use of headphones.