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THE PHILODASSIKI BOTANICAL GARDEN
Monday, 14 December 2009 19:37

The Philodassiki Botanical  Garden today

The garden originally established in 1964, on land near the Monastery of Kessariani, was the home of over 200 different species of plants from Southern and Central Greece, the Aegean islands and Crete. Later, we undertook to open the garden to special interest groups and due to the tireless efforts of the preceding custodians who had designed the paths, retaining walls and planting areas, we were able to re-establish the garden as a botanical entity. Our effort has been to keep the unique natural wildness of the locates consistent with the presentation of the botanical collections. With the collaboration of botanists specialized in Plant Systematics, the labeling and tagging of existent plants has been mostly achieved. At the same time a number of new plants have been found and are waiting for the suitable season to be introduced to the garden. The garden displays many elements of the Mediterranean ecosystems. It has in the same place a rich collection of bulbs, many shrubs (“maquis”), brush bushes (“phrygana”) and certain conifers. In what appears to be barren land grow a great number and variety of flora which include perennials, annuals and bulbs. There are other sites, with deeper and more humid soil, such as the ones, in proximity to a small stream which crosses the garden. There also exist some aquatic plants in the three small ponds.

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Last Updated on Friday, 07 November 2014 10:10
 
Mt. HYMETTUS AESTHETIC FOREST
Monday, 14 December 2009 19:17

The history

Mt. Hymettus Aesthetic Forest is entirely the work of the Philodassiki Society. The forest, now admired by many, did not preexist: it was created by Philodassiki from scratch. As early as 1924, Philodassiki  had  begun considering the creation of a forest in Kessariani. Reading back through the minutes of Philodassiki's executive committee meetings of that year, we notice the effort that was being made by Philodassiki for the creation of a new forest: "The green space of Athens is the victim of those who are responsible for its protection". "The Podonifti grove that once extended over 1000 acres has now been destroyed to be sold as real estate. The Pine tree wood of Polygono, Kessariani and Couponia were also transformed into plots of land for sale". Philodassiki decided to take action in order to save Kessariani and Mt. Hymettus. They managed to convince the government of the time to proclaim the region as a "Protected area". As Philodassiki had suggested, the Ministry of Agricultural Affairs" law (article 1.4029-12/2 on the 47th edition of the Government’s Newspaper) the best part of Hymettus was to be re forested. Further down is an extract of that very text, which states that the Ministry of Military Affairs in collaboration with Philodassiki will reforest "the large region across from the Syngrou area with pine trees and cypress trees”.

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Then came World War II and the occupation which unfortunately did not spare the region. First, the occupying forces stripped the mountains of their trees, then, later on; the desperate inhabitants of the surrounding neighborhoods cut the trees in order to use the wood as heating fuel. Dido Kallergy writes in her book entitled "Hymettus" that only the private forest of Nastos, located on the right hand side of Kareas, was spared from catastrophe. The photos of Hymettus Mountain taken during that time provide undeniable proof of this state of affairs: the forest was completely barren, no matter what those who want to stake a claim on the Aesthetic Forest might affirm.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 28 January 2010 23:56
 
The Kessariani Monastery
Monday, 14 December 2009 18:52

During the XIth century, Byzantium flourished in the arts thanks to the accession to power of an extremely enlightened dynasty, that of the Macedonians (867-1080). As the result of consecutive successful campaigns against various invaders, such as the Russians, the Bulgarians and the Arabs, the Macedonian Emperors managed to restore peace throughout most of the lands governed by Byzantium. With peace thus insured, along with other art forms, architecture experienced a remarquable apogee. During this very period, a series of monasteries were built on the slopes of mount Hymettus. Among them was Asterion Monastery, an exceptionally beautiful building, overlooking Attica from an altitude of 545 meters from a cavity on one of the slopes.

Then, in the Xth century, "St. John of the Hunters", also called the Philosopher`s Monastery, was built on the North side of the mountain. St. John the Theologian's Monastery, at the foot of Ymyttos on the outskirts of Papagou and the Karea Monastery, above Messogia, were also constructed at approximately the same time.

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However, the Kaisariani Monastery was the most renowned and the richest of all. There are no written testimonies about it before the Frankish occupation. Its apogee seems to have been between the end of the XIIth century and the beginning of the XIIIth . In 1204, Pope Innocent III submitted Kaisariani Monastery to the jurisdiction of the Latin Archbishop of Athens. When, in 1458, the Turks occupied Attica, Mohamed went to the monastery and, according to Jacob Spon (1675), a French doctor from Lyon, that is where he was given the key to the city.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 09:54
 
History
Sunday, 29 November 2009 19:05

The Foundation Philodassiki Enossi Athinon was founded in 1899 in Athens. Its main object was the reforestation of derelict (fallow) land, the encouragement of forest-lovers and the protection of the natural environment.


The Philodassiki Society, when it was first established, undertook the initiative of the reforestation of the hills in and around Athens and for this purpose a nursery was created with wells, tanks and a steam generated pump for extracting the seeds of coniferous trees. With the initiative of Philodassiki, the completely degraded hills in the center of Athens (Lycabettus, Philopappou, Ardittos, the Nymphs and Pnyka) were reforested at the same time with the barren of vegetation slopes of the Acropolis.

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In addition trees were planted on the main river banks (Kifissos, Podoniftis). The activities of Philodassiki Society were checked during the Balkan wars and World Wars. During World War Two the vegetation of Attica and mainly that of Mount Hymettus suffered a severe blow. All trees were cut down and Hymettus was transformed into a derelict (waste) land. It was now open to trespassing and city growth.

In 1945, the late President of  Philodassiki Society, Kaity Argyropoulou, undertook the initiative for the reforestation of the area around the Byzantine Monastery of Kessariani. This resulted in the planting of more than three million trees within an area of approximately 600 ha. Old quarries were covered and trees were planted, forest roads were opened, rest and recreation areas were created, and the goat-sheep herds were made to leave the area.

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Last Updated on Friday, 06 May 2011 10:11