Kaissariani Monastery and Scenic Forest Park
At the Kaissariani Monastery and Scenic Forest Park you will find foreign trees, flowers and shrubs with a nursery for young plants and botanical garden for native Greek flora. Further along the path is a small garden with aromatic and medicinal herbs.
Opening hours: Jan 1 to Dec 31: 8:30am-3pm
Entrance fee: FREE
Kaisarianí Monastery lies beyond the eastern suburb of Kaisarianí, which is named after it, and is reached on a road which runs past this monastery and the monastery of Astéri (16th C. domed cruciform church, with frescoes), higher up, to the summit plateau of Hymettos; 1,027m/3,370ft (military area, closed to public).The name comes from a spring close to a sanctuary of Aphrodite from which the emperor Hadrian caused an aqueduct to be built to supply Athens: thereafter the spring was known as kaisariane, Imperial. It was (and is) credited with healing powers, particularly for women who desire to bear a child. The water still flows from an ancient ram's head in the courtyard of the monastery.The monastery church is of the domed cruciform type. It was erected about the year 1000 on the site of an earlier church, and is thus rather older than the buildings of this type in Athens itself.The dome is borne not on the walls but on four columns with Ionic capitals, giving the interior an air of lightness. A templon formed of marble screens separates the chancel (bema) from the rest of the church.The painting is much later than the church itself, having been done in the 16th C., during the Turkish period, probably by a monk from Athos.It is in strict accordance with the rules for the hierarchical disposition of the various subjects - Christ Pantocrator in the dome, with the Prophets round the windows and the four Evangelists in the pendentives; the mother of God enthroned in the apse, with angels, the Communion of the Apostles and the fathers of the church below her; and on the barrel-vaulting of the arms of the cross the various church festivals. The figures stand out vividly against a black ground. In the porch is a fine representation of the Trinity. The porch, like the south chapel dedicated to St Antony and the bell-cote, was added in the late 17th C.There are well-preserved remains of the conventual buildings.Entering by the main entrance, on the east side, we see on the left a building which was originally a bath-house (on the Roman plan, with hot, cold and warm baths) and later housed oil-presses. Beyond this, set back a little, are a two-storied range of cells and a tower house belonging to the Venizelos family of Athens, who were great benefactors of the monastery. In the right-hand corner are the kitchen and refectory (now a museum).On the hill outside the west gateway of the monastery (15minutes' walk) are other remains of churches dating back to the sixth C., beside the monks' cemetery. From here there are extensive views of Athens.
Opening hours: 8am-3pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Greek National Day (Mar 25), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Easter - Christian, Good Friday - Christian
Entrance fee: Adult Admission Cost, Concession or reduced rate Discount, Students from EU Free, Child 18 & under Free
Transit: Bus: (orange) from Mavromateon 14, Ares Park.