About this Tour
Discover the National Garden through interesting stories about its creator, Queen Amalia, also known as the Queen of the palm trees. Learn about the garden’s antiquities, its unique botanical collection and the garden’s wildlife.
This is a self-guided mobile tour provided by our tour-guide app. The tour is based on an award-winning storytelling concept and the fascinating narratives prepared by handpicked destination experts. Enjoy this multilingual tour by using your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet at your own pace, even if you are offline. The interactive map on your screen will guide you step by step to explore all the points of interest along your route. Each stop comes with a selection of signature stories, allowing you to tailor this experience to your personal interests and schedule.
The most beautiful garden of the kingdom is none other than the National Garden, an oasis in the heart of Athens that was created in the 1840s on the initiative of Queen Amalia. Her passion for gardening transformed 40 acres of rocky and arid wasteland into a botanical garden rich in native and exotic flowers and trees. This tour is dedicated to the garden’s creators, the main sights and its current inhabitants, from the tree of heaven to the lowly cousins of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Today the Garden has seven kilometers of trails, six ponds, and contains about 520 species of plants (¾ of which are of foreign origin) with 7000 trees and 40,000 shrubs. The average temperature is usually 3-5 degrees lower than the surrounding urban environment so it is the ideal place to be on a hot summer day.
The garden occupies an area rich in antiquities and points of interest. The tour begins at the main entrance on Amalias Avenue, where you can enjoy the magnificent desert fan palms, planted by Amalia herself in December 1847. It is the only group of palm trees from her time that survive, which is rather sad when one considers Amalia’s desire to be known as “the queen of palm trees”. But there are many remnants of her time spread all over the place, including Amalia’s seat atop a rock near the temple of Olympian Zeus, one of her favourite spots from where she had an unimpeded view of the Acropolis and the Aegean Sea. There is also the Roman mosaic to the east of the parliament building, discovered during the garden’s construction and used for dinners and dance parties.
There are numerous antiquities strategically placed in the garden, including an impressive section of the architrave from Hadrian’s reservoir on Mount Lycabettus that mysteriously ended up in Amalia’s garden. Nearby is the Children's Library building, erected in 1847 as a surprise for King Otto. In a letter to her father Amalia notes that the projecting roof reminded one of a “Swiss house," which is a fairly accurate description. And one should not fail to visit the first large greenhouse in Greece, located in the Garden. It is slightly sunken into the ground, has a roof of metal connectors and reinforced glass and protected the young and sensitive plants until they were ready to be transplanted outside.
To take this self-guided tour you will need the app on your iOS or Android device.
- See the ponds that water the garden, they are supplied with pipes from the aqueduct built by the tyrant Peisistratus more than 2500 years ago.
- Discover the apartment buildings created by the colonies of parrots that escaped from cages and now proliferate in the garden.
- Find the thriving ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba), a true “living fossil” since it first appeared 270 million years ago.