Ever since the early 20th century, Athenians have sought refuge and respite from hot summer days in the lush, green embrace of the National Garden. Here, you’re just a few steps away from the hustle and bustle of the baking sidewalks outside, but temperatures are two to three degrees lower than in the city beyond the garden’s walls. So grab a good book, pick up some fruit and water, and relax amid this much-loved 39-acre oasis in the heart of the city.
Commissioned by Queen Amalia in 1838, this was once the Royal Garden; it backs onto what was once the Royal Palace (now the Parliament). It’s said that Amalia was the one who ordered the planting of the now 25m-tall Washingtonia palm trees that grace the garden’s entrance on Vasilissis Amalias Avenue. As for the park’s other plants, many of those were gifts given to the Greek royal family from around the world, which explains the presence of so many non-native species. Permanent residents include turtles, peacocks and tawny owls.
Open from dawn till dusk, the National Garden is a favorite spot for joggers, families with children who come to use the pleasant playground, and, indeed, anyone looking for some shade and serenity.
This text was first published as part of “Beat the Heat”, an article published in Greece Is Athens, Summer 2019 Edition.