The weather that day made us smile. At last, after many days of heavy overcast, the sun appeared to the Attic sky and the temperature rose. Our first thought was to go for a walk. The suggestions and wishes were plenty. Some destinations were far away, some were closer. But, in spite of the good winter weather, the day didn’t favour us to go far away from Athens. So, we decided to go for a walk in the centre of Athens and visit another one archaeological site. We decided to stroll around and go up to Filopappou Hill, in order to admire the Acropolis from above.
The classy street of Dionysiou Aeropagitou with the wonderful buildings of the 19th century, was full of people, who after many days at home had poured out to enjoy the lovely day, just like us. Families with little children, buskers, pitch-men, tourists, all-together were enjoying the beautiful day with the winter sun.
The Happy Train, full of people, was coming back and forth, as well as the full of tourists Hop on Hop off red buses (From here you can book the Hop on Hop off Bus and tour around the most important spots in Athens and Here you can read the post). It was really nice, taking the Hop on Hop off Bus a few months ago and touring around the most beautiful sights in Athens!
We suggest guided tours that include a visit to Filopappou Hill
Up to Filopappou Hill
The barriers placed at the beginning of the hill denoted that cars had to stop there and from there on you had to do your best to walk up the hill. What an exciting feeling possessed us that very moment! Freedom, happiness, optimism, just by staring at the nature all around us. Tall trees, short trees, bushes, with pathways on the right and on the left, benches for rest and in front of us an uphill paved road that would lead us to one more aspect of the ancient history of Greece. As you already know, I love history. I like to discover everything I can about the history of one place, either by walking around it, or visiting buildings, museums and monuments. Since I am doing this to every city I visit in Greece or abroad, how wouldn’t I do so in Athens and, of course, Thessaloniki, the city that I live?
You can read the posts about the city of Thessaloniki here and here. (ready soon)
The brown sign to Filopappos Monument led us to the path, which was full of tourists, who also wanted to learn about the history of Athens and each one of them had come from far away. If you also agree, even from your couch, you can join me in this walk up to Filopappos Hill.
Fortunately, the paved path wasn’t so uphill, as it looked at the beginning and while we were walking up the view that was unfolding around us was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The path we were walking had been etched on the paths of the ancient times. Yet the patterns etched on it have been made with marble pieces, tiles and stones and they match harmonically, thus creating a unique work of art.
Spot with great view to the Acropolis of Athens
We walked up quite fast and got to an edge, covered with marble, were most people stopped to catch a breath. It is called Andiron. It is a creation by Dimitris Pikionis, exactly for that reason; rest and panoramic photos. Because that spot has the best view to Propylea and the Parthenon.
We sat at the marble benches and the small stoneworks to get some rest and to take pictures with the Acropolis in the background. Every hiker and tourist wanted to take a picture for a keepshake from that spot, so the waiting line was big. At last our turn came. So many photos. I won’t tell you the exact number! This pose, that pose, the two of us, the three of us, all of us! A lot of photos! But none could blame us, since this view to the Acropolis is unique!
We could already discern Filopappos Monument on top of the hill inviting us from up there. There was a part of the hill remaining. We still had powers, yet the weather seemed not to be in favour of us for any longer, because a heavy cloud cover started shrouding the Attic sky. My granddaughter went ahead inciting us to leave and rushed towards the hill. At this point, I would like to tell you to grab every chance for visiting archaeological sites with your children. Little kids get a strong experience from such walks with us, without yet knowing the uniqueness and gratitude of these places. But they are being marked in their memory. Playgrounds, fun parks, television and all the rest are available all year long. Stepping back into history is not an everyday thing and children should do so from a young age, no matter where they live on Earth, whether they are travelling now and will be travelling in the future.
With these thoughts on my mind, and of course with laughs, whoops and a good mood we finally got to the top of the hill, where was looming the grand and statesque Filopappos Monument, or at least what’s left of it.
But who was this Filopappos that has a monument?
Filopappos was an offspring of sovereigns in the area that today we call Syria, and after the demise of his state from the Romans he came to Athens at 1st century A.D. At that era, Athens was under Roman occupation and Filopappos was declared as Roman Consul. Whilst living in Athens he made generous sponsorships to the city and became an Athenian citizen. Despite that, according to the Ancient Athenian customs, it was not allowed to build tombs inside the city’s walls, Filopappos broke the rules and built his own burial monument on that prominent spot. Instead of burial monument, it sounds better to call it Mausoleum, from which there is only one marble 12 meter façade left, that has relief representations from the most important moment of Filopappos’ life, the moment of his declaration as Roman Consul.
The view was breathtaking! This picture was imprinted in my mind and I have to admit, that we might have enjoyed the amazing Athenian view from the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis, but enjoying a view including both Athens and the Acropolis, is only possible from Filopappos Hill. Nothing around us blocked the Athenian view in front of our eyes!
The wind, though, was getting even stronger and the clouds were ominously approaching us from far away, which made us take the way back as soon as possible. Walking down was easier, following the beautiful path of Dimitris Pikionis, this great Greek architect, that carved the stones with such fantasy and expertise, so that all his work matches harmoniously to the natural landscape of the area.
The Prison of Socrates
The path led us to the Prison of Socrates. It is said that the great Greek philosopher was imprisoned here after his conviction. Some others say that it was another place. But, you know, it doesn’t matter where he was imprisoned. The point is that he was executed by being forced to drink poison and this is a dark page in the Ancient Greek history, that matters the most to all of us. Unfortunately!
Socrates, the Athenian Philosopher
Socrates was an Ancient Greek philosopher and liver during 469-399 B.C. He didn’t own a school, we wasn’t getting paid, yet he had many students following him and he was lecturing in every place he was going in Athens, while his topics were related to society, politics and religion. He believed that logic is a condition for someone to live well and that the real happiness depends on doing the right thing. Socrates himself admitted that he knows nothing, because knowledge is being achieved only when one admits his ignorance. “I know one think and that is that I know nothing”, said he in the Ancient Greek language. At 399 B.C. Athenians accused him of corrupting young people and making them disrespectful towards the gods and the society, he was put on trial and sentenced to death by drinking poison, conium. He had the chance to escape with the help of his students, but he preferred to die obeying the laws of his homeland.
The church of Agios Demetrios Loumbadiaris
We took one of the paths of Filopappos Hill and got to the initial paved road and the church of Agios Demetrios Loumbadiaris.
Agios Demetrios Loumbadiaris
The church was build during the Turkish Rule, and according to some perhaps during 9th century A.D. Tradition says that he took the name Loumbadiaris because of the following incident. The Turkish captain of the guard of Athens, who was living at Propylea, had set a “loumbarda” (big cannon) at the Propylea of Acropolis the day before Agios Demetrios’ name day, because he wanted to blow up the church and the Christians that would be there. But the Saint’s grace intervened and that day he sent a heavy storm. A lightning stroke the powder keg and the captain of the guard, his family and the shooters found a terrible death, while the church and the believer were saved.
More interesting things to do in Athens
Our walk went on, that’s why this post has a sequel. We headed to Areopagus, the Roman Market, Monastiraki, Hadrian’s Library and ended up in a lovely place for dinner at Athinas Street. Whilst eating there and saying how amazing our walk was, the first raindrops began to fall and hit on the panes. The drizzle became rain and the rain became storm. The downpour might not have lasted long but it was enough strong to overrun the streets with streams. We were satisfied with the timing of the rainfall and considered ourselves lucky, since the downpour didn’t meet us on the hill, ruining our walk.
It was late afternoon, when we arrived home tired but pleased from the wonderful walk at Filopappos Hill!