An experience panorama in Attica!
The wider Attica region offers countless possibilities for excursions to the countryside and day trips that combine stunning landscapes with world-famous archaeological sites and historical treasures. Here you will taste some of the beauty and heritage of Greece, a stone’s throw away from Athens, and will immerse yourselves into breathtaking sights, experiences, aromas and flavours, all year round.
We set off early in the morning, pack our camera and our favourite snacks for picnic and head to Eastern Attica, for a fascinating route: Kaisariani, Marathon, Vravrona, Markopoulo Mesogeas, Sounio.
Driving on the main avenue of Kaisariani, we follow the signs to Kaisariani Monastery. We park the car and look around. The whole area is idyllic, with signage and maps that navigate all visitors. The monastery is dedicated to the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is built in a forest, at an altitude of approximately 350 metres. The main temple dates back to the late 11th century and the interior of the church is decorated with frescoes that date from around 1700. The beautiful murals are based on the Cretan and Mount Athos painting styles. After a tour around the shared spaces of the monastery and its evergreen and peaceful courtyard, we take one of the ascending trails. We are in the heart of Mt. Hymettus Aesthetic Forest, a lush oasis full of pines, planes, cedars, oak trees and eucalyptuses. A surprise awaits us on every step we take. Paths and trails that lead to the area’s scattered churches and monasteries, and many beautiful spots and glades to rest and enjoy our picnic, marveling at the breathtaking view of the entire city of Athens!
We continue to the North, taking Hymettus Ring Road and Marathonos avenue. The place needs no introduction. It is famous all over the world for its immense historical value, for the great Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, when the massively outnumbered Greek army decisively resisted and defeated the Persians, stopping their first attempt to invade the Greek territory and marking a turning point in the Greco-Persian Wars. Here is the starting point of the Athens Authentic Marathon, the annual marathon race that covers a distance of 42 klm, and ends at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.
We are enjoying the drive to the Lake of Marathon, the tranquility and beauty of nature around us. When we arrive, we are absolutely stunned by the landscape. We sit for a coffee, to rest and marvel at the sight of the lake and the imposing Dam that created it. A prominent – and exceptional for its time – architectural construction, that is 54 metres high and 285 metres long. It is entirely panelled with white marble from Mount Penteli, the same that was used to construct the Parthenon and the Panathenaic Stadium.
The wider Marathon region is full of surprises and hidden treasures. Swimming in crystal blue waters and endless fun at the sandy Schinias beach, delicious food at the tavernas by the sea and refreshing drinks at the beach bars, horse riding and outdoor activities in beautiful nature, and of course iconic historical and archaeological sites, as well as museums (Archaeological Museum και Marathon Run Museum). A stop at the Tumulus of Marathon is a “must”: here we will see up close the “Soros”, as it is called by locals, the 9 metre-high burial mound of the 192 Athenian heroes who were killed at the battle of Marathon.
We drive further to the South, along the coastline, and arrive at one of the most beautiful regions of Attica, with green fields, vineyards, olive groves, mountain ridges and crystal blue sea. Here we will visit the Archaeological Site and the Museum of Vravrona, we will swim and eat delicious food at the beautiful beaches of the area. The archaeological site of Vravrona features one of the earliest and most sacred sanctuaries in Greece, where goddess Artemis and Iphigeneia, protectors of fertility, were worshiped. Within the ruins of the ancient Temple of Artemis Brauronia stands a Christian church of the 15th century, dedicated to St. George. At the archaeological museum of Vravrona we will see the wonderful sculptures of “Arktoi” (bears), the young girls dedicated to Artemis, and many more finds from Vravrona and other regions of Attica – Porto Rafti, Merenda, Perati and Anavyssos. Next to the ruins of the ancient Temple of Artemis, on the mouth of Erassinos river, lies a small wetland that hosts rare species of birds, and meets the sea after an area covered with pines, eucalyptuses and schinuses.
We continue to the West, towards Attica’s mainland, and reach Markopoulo Mesogaias, a region that plays a leading role in Greece’s wine-making scene. The aroma of grapevines fills the air, the secrets of wine are revealed by experienced wine-makers and the visitable wineries offer unique wine-tasting and culinary experiences. Here we will enjoy the hospitality of Attica’s wine-makers, we will learn about the local wine varieties, such as Savatiano, we’ll witness the stages of the wine production process at the state-of-the-art facilities of the wineries and will try the awarded labels of the region, accompanied by delicious local flavours.
We visit innovative bioclimatic wineries that were designed and operate with respect to the natural environment and the age-old tradition of winemaking in Attica. Before we leave, we buy a few bottles of the new age retsina, a fine and modern version of the traditional white resinated wine.
It is late afternoon and we head South, to Sounio, to marvel at the utterly majestic sunset. We drive past the ancient Thorikos Theatre, the National Park of Sounio and the town of Lavrio and schedule a future visit at this marvelous region.
It is hard to imagine an ancient temple built at a more beautiful spot than that of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio, overlooking the deep blue sea of the Aegean for thousands of years. The imposing Doric temple is a truly stunning sight. The archaeological site that hosts the temple also features the ruins of the small temple of Athena Sounias, the walls of the site fortress and the old settlement within the fortress, as well as the small naval base below the temple of Poseidon.
The southernmost tip of Attica peninsula does not only offer the most amazing sunset we have ever seen. Here we will also swim at the best beach of the eastern coastline and taste delicious food at the tavernas of the area, right by the sea.
It’s time to leave. No reason to feel sad, though, since the beautiful landscapes continue, as we enter the coastal road from Sounio to Athens, one of the most stunning routes in Attica. On our way back, we complete the unique collection of images and experiences that this amazing place generously offers…