The National Gardens
Henry Miller wrote in 1939: "It remains in my memory like no other park I have known. It is the quintessence of a park, the thing one feels sometimes in looking at a canvas or dreaming of a place one would like to be in and never finds."
The National Gardens (formerly The Royal Gardens) is a peaceful, green refuge in the center of the Greek capital. It was laid out from 1838-1860, created by Queen Amalia, the wife of King Othon, and her German gardener Schmidt. It is located directly behind the Greek Parliament building, which originally used to serve as the Old Palace. It continues to the south to the Zappeion grounds, across from the Kalimarmaro Olympic Stadium of the 1896 Olympic Games. It has a total area of 160,000 m2. In the National Gardens the visitor will find: a duck pond, a small zoo, a Botanical Museum, and a Children's Library and playground.
The small cafe is a respite from the tension of the city and you may enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, hot or fredo, a cup of home-made ice-cream, a toasted sandwich or a soda. Exit from Herodou Atticou Street and continue your stroll in Athens. Call 210 723 2820 for hours of operation which follow seasonal daylight hours.
Some 500 different kinds of plants, bushes and trees from all over the world are grown here (in total, it has approximately 7,000 trees and 40,000 bushes). At the same time, the National Gardens comprise an important natural life reserve in Athens as many different species of birds, hedgehogs, turtles, ducks and even bats are gathered here. The National Gardens also enclose a number of ancient ruins, tambours and Corinthian capitals of columns, mosaics. etc.
On the south-east there are the busts of Capodistrias, first Governor of Greece, and of the great philhellene Eynard, and on the south side the bust of the celebrated Greek poets Dionysios Solomos, and of Aristotelis Valaoritis, as well as several other important personalities of modern Greece. The National Gardens are open to the public from sunrise to sunset and provide a peaceful respite from the center city. The main entrance is on Leoforos Amalias, the street named after Queen Amalia who envisioned this park. One may also enter the gardens from one of three other gates: the main one, on Vasilissis Sophias Avenue, another on Herodou Atticou Street and the third and smaller one that connects the National Garden with the Zappeion park area.
Right across from the Zappeion Hall & Gardens, on Amalias Street at Syntagma, the Athens Key recommends Amalia Hotel. It features comfortable rooms with satellite & pay TV and Wi-Fi access. The modern rooms at Amalia Hotel are spacious and have AC. Deluxe rooms have balcony with views of the National Gardens, the Lycabettus Hill and the Parliament. A rich American buffet breakfast and a la carte lunch or dinner is served in Amalia's restaurant. Light snacks and drinks are served at the Chrysalis Lobby Lounge bar. Awarded with the Green Key eco-label, Amalia Hotel uses environmentally friendly toiletries and cleaning products, as well as quality organic foods and drinks.