Athens National Garden tour: the early yearsAthens, Greece
An inspiring self-guided audio walking tour in the Athens National Garden with credible & original stories written by top local professionals. Take your tour now & enjoy it instantly on your smartphone device.
The most beautiful garden of the kingdom is none other than the National Garden, an oasis in the heart of Athens that was created in the 1840s on the initiative of Queen Amalia. Her passion for gardening transformed 40 acres of rocky and arid wasteland into a botanical garden rich in native and exotic flowers and trees. This tour is dedicated to the garden’s creators, the main sights and its current inhabitants, from the tree of heaven to the lowly cousins of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Today the Garden has seven kilometers of trails, six ponds, and contains about 520 species of plants (¾ of which are of foreign origin) with 7000 trees and 40,000 shrubs. The average temperature is usually 3-5 degrees lower than the surrounding urban environment so it is the ideal place to be on a hot summer day.
The garden occupies an area rich in antiquities and points of interest. The tour begins at the main entrance on Amalias Avenue, where you can enjoy the magnificent desert fan palms, planted by Amalia herself in December 1847. It is the only group of palm trees from her time that survive, which is rather sad when one considers Amalia’s desire to be known as “the queen of palm trees”. But there are many remnants of her time spread all over the place, including Amalia’s seat atop a rock near the temple of Olympian Zeus, one of her favourite spots from where she had an unimpeded view of the Acropolis and the Aegean Sea. There is also the Roman mosaic to the east of the parliament building, discovered during the garden’s construction and used for dinners and dance parties.
There are numerous antiquities strategically placed in the garden, including an impressive section of the architrave from Hadrian’s reservoir on Mount Lycabettus that mysteriously ended up in Amalia’s garden. Nearby is the Children’s Library building, erected in 1847 as a surprise for King Otto. In a letter to her father Amalia notes that the projecting roof reminded one of a “Swiss house,” which is a fairly accurate description. And one should not fail to visit the first large greenhouse in Greece, located in the Garden. It is slightly sunken into the ground, has a roof of metal connectors and reinforced glass and protected the young and sensitive plants until they were ready to be transplanted outside.
1. The Birth of the GardenThe Garden offered a prime opportunity to all sorts of profiteers to dip their hands into the public coffers. Amalia persisted, nevertheless, and managed to transform an arid plot of land into a green oasis!
2. The palm forestThe Garden had an adventurous life. It was born as a forest of palm-trees and ended up as temporary funeral grounds for the dead of the Greek Civil War.
3. The Garden’s lifelineThe supply of water for the plants was a constant source of anxiety for the gardeners. They used an ancient aqueduct and steam-powered pumps.
The Garden in a nutshell
The Birth of the GardenThe project started in 1836 under the auspices and guidance of Queen Amalia. Today the Garden covers an area of 39 acres, while it has seven kilometers of trails. There are six ponds that make up a total area of half an acre. The Garden contains about 520 species of plants (¾ of which are of foreign origin) with 7000 trees and 40,000 shrubs. The average temperature is usually 3-5 degrees lower than the surrounding urban environment.
The Queen of the Palm Trees
The palm forestQueen Amalia was passionate about palm trees and wanted the palace garden to acquire a touch of "The East". Her desire was to be known to future generations as "the queen of the palm trees." Her enthusiasm overcame the reactions of the city residents who objected to the cost of creating the Garden, and the practical difficulties of transporting numerous large trees.
The steam-powered heart of the Garden
The Garden’s lifelineThe most crucial structure for the Garden’s prosperity was the central water reservoir, just to the right of the Vasillisis Sophias Avenue entrance. This was the end point for the aqueduct pipes. The transfer of water from the reservoir to the rest of the garden was partly achieved using a steam pump, whose chimney was a feature of this particular park corner. The pump valves were placed discreetly in the artificial cave underneath the reservoir.
A grumpy man with a PhD. He is fascinated by words; when he sees them forming beautiful sentences he feels like an apprentice wizard who just produced fancy potions out of cauldrons full of frog legs and tears of bats. In his spare time he roams about town or watches anything produced and narrated by Sir David Attenborough, an inexhaustible source of similes. In Canada, he learned to love the cold, but he is much happier working in Athens.
|Address||National Garden, Athens|
|Starting point||Amalias 1, Athina 105 57 (Metro Station Syntagma, exit towards Ethnikos Kipos)|
|Finishing point||Amalias 1, Athina 105 57 (Metro Station Syntagma, exit towards Ethnikos Kipos)|
|Opening hours||Daily from sunrise to sunset|
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.
By clicking "Add to cart", you are purchasing this tour in English. This tour is also available in the following languages: Ελληνικά.