By the Banks of The River Ilissos
ΣΤΙΣ ΟΧΘΕΣ ΤΟΥ ΠΟΤΑΜΟΥ ΙΛΙΣΣΟΥ
As urban Athens expanded in the 19th and, even worse, in early 20th centuries, the river became a source of pollution and was gradually converted into a rainwater runoff conduit, covered with streets that track its original, twisting route, along the lay of the land.
The River Ilissos bed flows under Mesogeion Avenue at the Old Gendarmerie Academy, runs under Michalakopoulou (the modern-day suburb of Ilissia) and Vassileos Constantinou Avenues, and passes in front of the Panathinaiko Olympic Stadium, where it was bridged in the 19th century. The river used to flow along the fortification walls of Athens. Its banks -in the busy intersection that today features the Hilton Hotel and the National Gallery- were grassy and shaded by plane trees, and were considered idyllic in antiquity. The temple of Pankrátēs, a local hero, was located there, giving its name to the modern suburb of Pankrati.
By Hera! What a fine place for rest! How large and tall this platanus tree is! And, this chestnut tree, how magnificent is its shade and majestic its branches! These places are all in bloom and balmy. A delicious spring ripples at the roots of this platanus and by dipping our feet we may feel the coolness if its waters. To judge by these figurines and statues one might say that this abode is consecrated to Nymphs and to the Acheloos river. How the air that we breathe here is sweet and agreeable! It is like the perfume of Summer, harmonious with the chorus of grasshoppers. But, what I like best, is this soft turf, thick enough to rest our heads comfortably, stretching ourselves on this gently inclined ground. My dear Phaedros, thou could have not lead me to a better place!
New 2014 archaeological finds identify the ruins of yet one more 4th Century B.C. temple, dedicated to Zeus, "Μειλίχιον Δία", in the vicinity of that of the 5th C. B.C. ionic temple of Artemis (Diana) Agrotera, a bit higher up on the same slope of the hill, which is thought to have been called "Agrai". It was here that the illustrious goddess was celebrated every year on the anniversary of the Battle of Marathon. The Archon in charge would offer goats for sacrifice and the tithe of the sale of war prisoners, while the Athenian youth passed in procession. The importance of this hill was due to the Lesser Mysteries, celebrated every year in the month of Anthesterion (February-March) as a form of initiation of the Great Eleusinian Mysteries. The Hill of Agrai goes as far as the Stadion and is known under the name of Ardettos or Helicon.
Here the visitor may also discover the Shrine of the God Pan. This rocky outcrop with a small natural cave and two perpendicular faces was found to carry a relief of the god Pan. This deity of the wild nature was regularly worshiped in caves and rocky terrain. Pan is depicted striding to the right with the "pipes of Pan" in his right hand and a stick for hunting hare on the left. Others believe that this is the Shrine of the Nymphs and the river god Acheloos, with a spring of cold water, a plane tree and a willow, where, as Plato writes, Socrates and Phaedros sat during their philosophical chats. Ilissos then flows under Thesseos Avenue, in the suburb of Kallithea, its original course turning sharply northwest to join the Kifissos River, of which it was once a tributary. The Ilissos is now routed straight to sea, coming to surface and running into the Saronic Gulf in the middle of Faleron Bay.
In the vicinity of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the church of Agia Foteini and the course of Ilissos River, we recommend The Athenian Callirhoe Exclusive Hotel, a 4-star boutique hotel combining the ultimate in style and luxury and an ideal choice for both business and leisure travelers.
It features free Wi-Fi, a Fitness Center, Babysitting/Child Services, Non-Smoking Rooms, Room Service, a Restaurant, and American Breakfast. The hotel is located next to the Syngrou-Fix Metro and tram stations, and offers easy accessibility on foot to Athens' major points of interest.
|Athens Riverside: |
A Journey in Mythical Athens
Through this tour you will visit ancient sanctuaries dedicated to mystery gods, Christian churches that replaced the ancient temples, caves and Roman baths. You will learn of urban myths, you will see the remains of ancient Athenian neighborhoods and visit Pnyx Hill, Philoppapos Hill and Ilissos riverside