On an average day of walking around Athens, you don’t tend to think about its dark, eerie and metaphysical side, of restless spirits trapped in abandoned houses or other-worldly creatures lurking in deep caves, but according to the city’s ghost-hunters it’s all there, happening right under your nose. Especially in a city like Athens, where there is a palimpsest of dramatic historical events arching back to several millennia ago. If you’ve already seen all the usual sights and would like to explore a different side of the city, here are some of Athens’ eeriest spots to explore…if you dare.
The imposing mansion, built in 1910 in a renaissance and neoclassical style, was once the summer abode of Alexandrian businessman Nikolaos Kazoulis. It is said that agonized cries can sometimes be heard coming from the depths of the house, something that may be accounted for by the fact that it was partly built above the ‘Mnimouri’ Turkish cemetery, while during WWII the home was the Nazi SS Headquarters, where hundreds of Greeks were tortured in the basement. At least 12 of the victims were buried on the grounds.
“The cemetery is like a museum presenting some of the most striking and varied examples of sculptural art, most famous of all being the Sleeping Maiden, made by Yannoulis Chalepas with marble from Tinos.”
SANATORIUM ON MT. PARNITHA
As you drive up to this huge, derelict structure when driving around Mount Parnitha, especially on a cloudy day or in the late evening, you instantly feel as if you are seeing something in a horror movie. Remotely built on Mount Parnitha for its dry climate and oxygenated air in 1912 as a hospital for tuberculosis sufferers, the amphitheatrically-built sanatorium is where over 50 percent of its patients died within the short space of five years.
Although it was bought by the Greek Tourism Organization (GNTO) in 1965 and used first as a hotel and later a tourism school, ever since it was abandoned 20 years later it has become a favorite haunt for ghost hunters, thrill seekers and occultists alike, with numerous reports by amateurs and professionals alike of witnessing spirits, voices and eerie sounds, dramatic temperature changes from space to space, and more. Urban legend has it that a little girl wearing a white robe has been repeatedly sighted walking the corridors and crying for water. Right across the creepy building is another unsettling zone – The Park of Souls, created by artist Spyridon Dassiotis in 2012 using burnt tree trunks that survived the big fire on the mountain in 2007, in memoriam of the deceased, whose ‘souls’ have emerged from the wood in all their tragic expressions.
FIRST CEMETERY OF ATHENS
A place of rest built in 1837 as the burial place of revolutionary heroes, archbishops, famous actors, poets, politicians and members of the city’s most important families, the cypress tree-lined First Cemetery of Athens, with the central ‘Anapafseos’ (Eternal Rest) Street leading all the way through it, is located right behind the Panathenaic Stadium. The cemetery is like a museum presenting some of the most striking and varied examples of sculptural art, most famous of all being the Sleeping Maiden, made by Yannoulis Chalepas with marble from Tinos.
Viator offers a guided tour of the cemetery, although many prefer to simply stroll through at their own will to regard the tombs and their marble embellishments. Now if you venture into the place at night, be aware that you might come across the resident ghost of Nikolas Batsaris, who was once a wreath bearer who worked at the cemetery until his death at the age of 90. The story goes that Batsaris accumulated a significant wealth by snatching jobs from his coworkers and loved money so much he would caress the dead before they were buried, thanking them for giving him ways to earn more. Those who have seen him say he is oblivious to human presence and is usually sitting by a wreath.
If your kids are also incurably curious and especially when it comes to the sixth sense, head to a playground that is quite ludicrously built just behind the First Cemetery of Athens, on Loginos hill, which actually overlooks the cemetery grounds. Immediately following WWII the then Mayor of Athens ordered the remains of dead German soldiers to be buried on Loginos hill, and it remains uncertain whether these have been removed.
Nothing grows within a 10 meter radius of this house, while within a 50 meter radius various researchers have found that the air is extremely high in negative ions, (a factor associated with the presence of paranormal activity). Apart from its weird architectural style, the house has a hair-raising history, as it was the very place where a man called Periklis Kallergis committed suicide, after murdering his wife and children. A few decades later, the same building was used as a guardhouse by Nazi soldiers, who tortured hundreds of prisoners there.
It is believed that when an effort was made, a few decades ago, to knock down the house, the bulldozer being used on the site stopped working and two of the builders died from heart attacks a few days later. Another story is that a man who made a bet with his friend that he could spend the night alone in the house died the following morning. Until today, various neighbors have said that screams and cries can be heard coming from the house.
“Apart from its weird architectural style, the house has a hair-raising history, as it was the very place where a man called Periklis Kallergis committed suicide, after murdering his wife and children.”
CAVE ON PENDELI
Located in Attica’s second highest mountain, inside a quarry where marble was mined in ancient times, the Cave of Pendeli is also named ‘Daveli’s Cave‘ after a 19th century bandit who according to legend used it as a hideout, as well as ‘Pan’s Cave’ because an underground chamber in the cave that was reportedly used in ancient times for ceremonies dedicated to the god. The cave, sized 60m in length by 40m in width and 20m in height, has been the source of countless reports of paranormal activity within and outside it, black magic rituals, and outlandish and downright creepy visitor experiences, especially at night – from the breakdown of electrical equipment to the observation of ghosts, terrifying beings such as a huge white creature with luminous eyes or a group of grey child ghosts, disappearances of investigators or tourists and numerous UFO sightings.
Controversy continues to surround the as yet unexplained activities of the Greek army and navy together with NATO forces and US military within the cave in the 1970s, during which they are reported to have cordoned off the area with barbed wire and used heavy explosives to blast open the main chamber and close off access to its intricate underground chambers. This, among many other stories, can be read about in the book ‘The Riddle of Pendeli’, by paranormal and sci fi literature author George Balanos, who spent years exploring various X-Files-worthy phenomena.
EX NAVY HOSPITAL OF MELISSIA
Known in some circles as the “haunted hospital” this is reportedly a favorite haunt among ghost-hunters and Satanic cults alike. Abandoned in the 1970s, the space is said to have been left untouched, although it has been heavily vandalized and used by homeless individuals, drug addicts and teenagers trying to spot ghosts as a temporary accommodation over the decades.
2km from the Casino, Mt Parnitha
241 Kifissias Ave, Maroussi
CAVE OF PENDELI
Southwestern slope of Mt Pendeli
EX NAVY HOSPITAL ΝΙΕΝ
End of Kountouriotou St, Melissia
FIRST CEMETERY OF ATHENS
Anapafseos and Trivornianou Streets, Mets
Loginos Hill, Mets
WELL OF SOULS
THE WELL OF SOULS
Although centrally located in the northern suburb of Kifissia, this well is hard to track down by those seeking it, as it is surrounded by reeds. According to urban legend, the well, which is sealed shut by a cement block and has weird symbols written on it, is where haunted souls reside, appearing to passers by at night, often taking on frightening forms. There is a story that in 1945 a local man once shot at one of these forms and the following day he became severely ill and died.