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Surroundings, Athens

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There are many places of interest within a small driving distance from Athens.

Dafni Monastery

The Dafni Monastery has a long history, which essentially ended in the 19th C, until it was restored in the 1950s. The monastery is known for fine, 11th C mosaics, but has many noteworthy features.

Attic Riviera and the Coast of Apollo

Eleusis, Greece

Ancient Eleusis was the site of a sanctuary during Mycenaean times. Today it is the location of the annual Aiskhylia Festival.

Areópagos

Northwest of the Acropolis is the Areopagos (Areios pagos, Hill of Ares or Mars), seat of the supreme court of ancient Athens. There are three ways of reaching it: On the south side 16 rock-cut steps (smooth and slippery) lead up to a small plateau surrounded on three sides by further steps leading to the top of the hill.
From the Leofóros Dionysíou Areopagítou, some 150m/150yd to the left (west) of the broad road leading up to the Acropolis, a path runs up in a northwesterly direction through an ancient residential quarter to the foot of the west side of the Areopagos.
Another footpath starts from the Leofóros Apostólou Pávlou, near the southwest end of the Agora enclosure, and ascends the easy slope of the hillside, past numerous rock cuttings marking the sites of ancient buildings.
The origins of the Areopagos go back to mythical times. Here, according to tradition, Ares was called to account by the gods for the murder of Halirrhotios; and here, too, in Mycenaean times, as Aeschylus relates in his "Eumenides", Orestes stood trial for the murder of his mother Klytaimnestra. The goddess Athena herself secured his aquittal: whereupon the Erinnyes or Furies who had been relentlessly pursuing him - and who had a cave sanctuary on the Areopagos - turned into the Eumenides of "Kindly Ones". The event was commemorated by an altar dedicated to Athena Areia by Orestes, to which Pausanias refers. A block of stone on the east side of the hill may have been this altar; or alternatively it may have been one of the two stones, the Stone of Wrath and the Stone of Shame, on which the accuser and the accused person sat at trials in historical times.
In the fifth century B.C. the power of the Areopagos was reduced to the role of a constitutional court and a court of morals.
Chapter 17 of the Acts of the Apostles records the address which the Apostle Paul gave to the "men of Athens" on this ancient sacred site, referring to Christ as the "unknown god" whom they worshipped. A modern bronze tablet (to the right of the steps up the hill) is inscribed with this text.

Residential Quarter

To the southwest of the Areopagos, below Leofóros Apostólou Pávlou, an ancient residential quarter has been excavated. On this site, now much overgrown, can be seen a street lined by the remains of substantial buildings (some of them with mosaic floors) and the sanctuary of the old local healing god Amynos, identifiable by its trapezoid plan. In the northern part of the site is the assembly hall of the lobakchoi, a Dionysiac fraternity.
Inside is a marble pillar with bas-reliefs.

Basilica ruins of Dionysios the Areopagite

On the northern slopes of the Areopagos are the remains of a basilica of the Byzantine period dedicated to Dionysios, a member of the Areopagos who - as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles - was one of Paul's first converts, and subsequently became the patron saint of Athens.
Do not confuse with the cathedral in central Athens.

Themistoclean Walls

Until the Persian Wars only the Acropolis was surrounded by walls; but after the destruction of Athens by the Persians in 480 B.C. Themistocles had a wall built round the city. The work was done in great haste, using the ruins of the monuments and buildings which had been destroyed.
A considerable stretch of these Themistoclean walls, with two gates (the Dipylon and the Sacred Gate), has been brought to light in the Kerameikos, another section north of the Olympeion. Further remains of the walls were found during the construction of the government buildings over the church of the Ayía Dynamis in Mitropóleos Street, at 6-8 Dragatsaniou Street and on the site of the Divani Zafolia Hotel, in Parthenónos Street, to the south of the Acropolis. These two latter sections are open to the public.
The city's defenses were strengthened between 465 and 460 B.C. by the construction of the Long Walls, which ran southwest and south from Athens and were designed to secure communications between Athens and the ports of Piraeus and Phaleron. The road to Piraeus was further protected by a parallel wall built by Pericles in 445 B.C.
This defensive system was completed in 337 B.C. by the construction of the Diateichisma, an intermediate wall between the Hill of the Nymphs and the Hill of the Muses which shortened the defensive line.

Parnis, Greece

This range of limestone mountains rising to 1,413m/4,636ft divides Attica on the north from Bogotia. In ancient times there was a sanctuary of Zeus the Rain-Bringer on the summit.
Nowadays Mount Párnis attracts many visitors with its pine forests and its pleasant climate. It is reached by way of the outlying suburb of Achárnes, starting-point of a road 12km /7.5mi which winds its way up with numerous sharp bends. After passing a sanatorium (alt. 1,000m/ 3,200ft) the road comes in 2km/1.25mi to the Ayía Triáda chapel, where there are a tourist pavilion and a hotel.
Here the road divides: the right-hand branch leads to the luxury hotel, while to the left 3km/ 2mi is a mountain hut from which it is possible to climb to the summit.

Church of St John the Hunter

10km/6mi northeast of Athens' city center is the conventual church of St John the Huntsman. The church lies on the northern slopes of Hymettos, 2km/1.25mi above the village of Ayía Paraskeví, which can be reached from the center of Athens by way of Vas. This is a domed cruciform church built in the 12th C. and (as recorded in an inscription) restored in the 13th C., with handsome walls of dressed stone. The limewashed narthex was added in the 17th C.
The 17th C. frescoes in the interior area, unfortunately, are partly covered with whitewash.

Acharnes, Greece

This site of Achárnes was occupied from Mycenaean times, and in the classical period, as Acharnai, it was a place of some consequence. It is the setting of Aristophanes' comedy "The Acharnians". The village is reached from Omónia Square by way of Vathis Square and Liossion Street. 3km/2mi south of Achárnes, on the west side of the road, is a Mycenaean tholos tomb.
The ancient acropolis was on a hill to the west, 12km/7.5mi from Athens.

Agrinion, Greece

Agrínion, situated just northwest of Lake Trikhonis, is chief town of the nomos (district) of Aetolia and center of the local tobacco trade.
The archeological museum, the Pepastratios Municipal Library, and the grove of Áyios Christóforos on the hillside, are some of the sights worth visiting in the town.
Agrínion is also home to the Papastratia festival of cultural and sporting events, which is held annually in June.

Thermos - Temple of Apollo

27km/17mi east of Agrínion, on the northern shore of Lake Trikhonis, is the temple of Apollo at Thérmos. Here, near an earlier Helladic megaron, a first temple of Apollo was built in the 10th - ninth century B.C. Its successor, of which some remains survive, was built about 625 B.C.

Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum in Agrinion displays artifacts from the Aetoloacarnania district covering the periods from Prehistory to the Roman times.
Address: 1-2 N. Diamanti Street, 30100 Agrínion, Greece

Beautiful Church

The Omorphi Ekklisía or "Beautiful Church" is a 12th C. domed cruciform church which owes its name to its graceful proportions and its handsome exterior of carefully fitted dressed stone. In the 14th C. a chapel was built on to the south side and a painter of considerable quality, probably from Salonica, embellished the interior with fine frescoes, which were restored in 1957.
The church is located in the suburb of Galátsi, 8km North of Athens city centre.

Dionysius, Greece

Situated at an altitude of 460m/1,510ft on the north side of Pentélikon, on the road from Drosiá to Néa Mákri, is the village of Dionysius, one of the most popular resorts around Athens. On the outskirts of the village is a sanctuary of Dionysos, which belonged to the ancient city of Ikaria, home of Thespis, who produced the first tragedy in Athens in 534 B.C. The introduction of vine-growing was attributed to King Ikarios.

Peania, Greece

The village of Liopési occupies the site of ancient Paiania, the birthplace of Demosthenes (384 B.C.), and is thus also known as Peanía. It is now an agricultural center. Its late Byzantine churches (Ayía Paraskeví, Ayía Triáda, etc.), with frescoes, are of a type found also at Markópoulo (10km /6mi southeast) and Korópi (6km /4mi south).
The Kanakis taverna is popular with visitors from Athens, particularly diplomats.

Peania (Paiania) - Vorres Museum of Contemporary Art

The Vorres Museum of Contemporary Art is situated on an idyllic old farm in Peania, on the eastern side of the Hymettos mountain ridge. On display are paintings and sculptures by well-known Greek artists, together with a smaller exhibition which ranges from old Byzantine icons up to works by modern Greek painters.
House hold and everyday folk items, furniture, textiles, and pottery are also featured.
Address: 1 Parodos Diad. Konstantinou, Peania, 19002 Paiania, Greece

Peania (Paiania) - Koutouki Stalactitic Cave

A particular tourist attraction at Peania is the Koutoúki stalactitic cave on the east side of Hymettos, discovered in 1926, which can be reached from the village on an asphalted road. The cave, 500m/1,640ft above sea level, has an area of 3,800 sq. m/40,000 sq. ft and is indirectly lit.
This cave is 4km from the village of Peania in the Messogia district of Attica.
The cave consists of one main cavern with several patricians festooned with fine, multi-colored groupings of stalagmites and columns. Artistically concealed artificial lighting in this cave is considered to be among some of the best in the world.

Athens Railroad Museum

In the Athens Railroad Museum various locomotives and coaches can be admired. The oldest rolling stock in the museum dates from the second half of the 19th C., and includes some trains used by the Greek King George I and the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Aziz. In recent years some old steam locomotives and trams have been lovingly restored. Old railroad equipment and models complete the display.
Address: 4 Sioukou / 301 Liossion Street, Greece

Ayios Kosmas, Greece

13km/8mi south of the Athens city center is the coastal town of Ayios Kósmas. The town gets its name from a former monastery, the church of which stands on a rocky promontory. Traces of settlements here go back to the third millennium B.C. Some researchers believe that this was the site of the ancient Kolias Akra, where Persian ships were destroyed after the battle of Salamis in 480 B.C.

Amaroússion

The suburb of Maroússi, 12km/7.5mi north of Athens, occupies the site of the ancient deme of Athmonia, where there was a sanctuary of Artemis Amarysia. In more recent times it has become known through Henry Miller's "Colossus of Maroussi". There are many shops selling local pottery.

Spathareion Museum of Shadow Theater

The Spathareion Museum of Shadow Theater in Maroússi is an attraction for all ages. It was established in 1965 by E. Spatharis, a famous Greek shadow theater artist. The display includes his and his fathers personal collections dating from 1947. Some of the items on display include books on the shadow theatre and the puppet theatre, posters, programmes, and press cuttings
Address: Vas. Sophias & D.Ralli Street, Kastalias Square, 15125 Maroússi, Greece

Kaisariani 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.

Kaisariani Monastery

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.

Marika Kotopouli Museum

The Marika Kotopouli Museum is housed in the former holiday home of actress Marika Kotopouli, and contains temporary exhibits of modern art. The house is an attraction worth visiting regardless of the exhibits. It has been restored by the municipality and is known for it's distinctive architecture and beautiful interior.
Address: 14 Panagouli Street, 15773 Zografou, Greece

Archeological Institute American School of Classical Studies

The American School of Classical Studies Fund, located in Athens, perform digs in Greece. They often hold seminars on archeological topics.
Official site: www.ascsa.edu.gr
Address: 54 Souidias, 10676 Athéna, Greece

Bizani - Wax Museum of Greek History

Prominent figures from Greek history have been recreated at the Wax Museum of Greek history in Ioannina.
Address: Box 1039, 45001 Bizáni, Greece

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