The Legendary Mountains Of Athens

The reptile King, ‘Cecrops’, would be proud. As the original settler of what is now known as Athens, ‘Cecrops’ wouldn’t have had to try too hard to pinpoint the right location for his city. Athens is literally a city fortress that was once impregnable, surrounded as it is by the 4 majestic mountains and several citadel hill tops, none more famous than the Acropolis. To top it off, a natural barrier in Pireaus Port and an unlimited source of drinking water fed by the 3 rivers of Eridanus, Ilissos and Kifisos. Sadly, these 3 rivers are but a distant memory, now merely fodder to the rampant over urbanization of Athens. But we digress.


Mt. Penteli on the northeast not only served its strategic defense purpose but additionally functioned as the state’s de facto quarry, something that continues to this day. The famous Greek light that shines on the marbled-festooned pavements and buildings across town is sourced from there. Things to see there include the Valanaris waterfall and the mysterious Cave of the famed Robbin Hood robber ‘Ntavelis’.


Parnitha is perhaps the most picturesque if only for the fact that it’s less developed and retains some of its wilderness. Located on the north, this is the home of the legendary deity of Pan, whose half man half animal form protected wild life and nature. He was revered probably as much as the dwellers of the nearby casino revere money. Either way, if you’re feeling lucky, there’s worst things you could do than roll the dice. Parnitha of course is more than that, and certainly, a trip up the funicular to the summit should offer enough reasons as to why that’s so. Numerous walking trails as well as a mountain cabin make Parnitha a sure bet for hiking.


Mt. Hymettus blankets several urban areas in the eastern part of the city, and is the designated student quarter. The neighborhoods of Pangrati, Zografou, Ilissia and Kessariani are all leafy suburbs with magnificent vistas and more than one romantic cafeteria. That’s not to say that Mt. Hymettus is devoid of natural wonders. Look no further than the many eco conservation tours that highlight many of the endemic herbs and aromatic flowers that grow wild on those slopes.


Which leaves us with lovely yet often under the radar Mt. Egaleo. Just like Parnitha, Egaleo has largely remained unscathed from the onslaught of modernity. Funnily enough, the removal of sheep and goats rather helped with the preservation of foliage back in the 1920’s. And so it and its adjoining sister Mt. ‘Poiklo Oros’ on the western boundaries have stood sentinel since like, forever. The lively areas of Chaidari, Nikea and Korrydalos are authentic neighborhoods with lively cafes and bars. and are more than sure to give you a peep hole into mainstream Greek culture.

The Legendary Mountains Of Athens

Each mountain has a story to tell. In Athens, they may be more than one.

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