Few people know this but Greece had royalty. Part of the German branch albeit, but for nearly a century Greece was part of the global royal set. The parliament in Syntagma used to be their main dwelling but as is customary with royals, they also had their summer house. And I mean house in the loosest sense here, for one look at their Tatoi summer palace and you’d probably have to change your pacemaker. Of course this all came crashing down when a series of unfortunate events in Greece led to a series of cataclysmic events for the royals, namely their banishment and eventual stripping of their titles by popular vote. The irony is probably not lost on the royals (democracy vs aristocracy). What is lost is the wherewithwhat of the circumstances. And Tatoi, of course.

The sprawling 10,000 acres on which the estate is built are what dreams are made of. Nestled on the slopes of Mount Parnitha, just a half hour drive from Athens city center and in between a thick canopy of pine trees, this forested area once used to be a thriving little village. We’re talking vineyards, horse stables, vegetable gardens, olive groves, a gas station, butcher shop, cemetary, swimming pool, mill, farm huts and over 40 odd neo classical buildings that housed the staff and the royals themselves. The estate now lies in disrepair, with weeds and nature taking over the man made stuff in something out of a dystopian Terry Gilliam film. For urban explorers this is like Shangri-La. The epitome of a fin-de-siècle setting that is part romantic, part spooky but without doubt an absolute beauty to explore. People now come here for scenic walks in the forest, or bike riding, picnics on relaxing Sunday afternoon strolls with their dogs or kids.

The sense of history here is pervasive as it is atmospheric. The boarded up houses are somewhat disheartening but also add to the whole mysticism. The story of the royals is surreptitious as it is controversial. Tatoi is not. During autumn and winter, Tatoi is magical.

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