Athens Excursions » Kaisariani Monastery
Kaisariani Monastery built in the 11th century AD and is set in an idyllic location on the slopes of Mount Hymettos. According to Greek mythology the area was frequented by the god Hephaistos. The river Ilissos, which has its source on a hill above the monastery, was sacred to Aphrodite. The monastery was built over the ruins of a Roman temple which in turn was built over an ancient Greek one. Four columns of the ancient temple have survived to this day and support the dome of the monastery's church. The monastery flourished between the end of the 12th and the beginning of 13th century AD. During the years of its economic prosperity it was a major cultural centre with a rich library and its priors were the spiritual leaders of the time. The church of the monastery , dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin, is built in the shape of the Greek Cross. It is decorated with wall paintings dating from the 16th century. Surrounding the courtyard of the monastery are a mill, a bakery, a bathhouse and a refectory . On the eastern wall of the monastery you will see a fountain, whose water gushes from a marble ram's mouth.
In ancient times these waters were believed to cure sterility and they are still believed to have "magical" qualities. Agiasma, a sanctum on the south-west of the monastery'scourtyard, houses another fountain.
Kaisariani Monastery is an excellent starting, point for mountain hikes on, Mount Hymettos, as all paths lead to the forest from here. If walking does not appeal to you, you can sit and relax in the peaceful surroundings for awhile and enjoy the scented mountain air.
The Votanical Garden - At a distance of only 5 Km from Athens city centre you will have the chance to walk around and enjoy 3,000,000 pine trees, cypresses, firs, poplars, plane trees and oaks; also thousands of birds and the Botanical Garden of wild flora. It provides the perfect setting for a long stroll and a picnic. You will find picnic tables and benches after a 20-minute walk away from the Kaisariani monastery.
Getting there - If you have a car, take the Kareas peripheral road and the road signs will lead you to the point where you have to leave it and start walking. City bus which departs every ten minutes from Kaningos Square and goes up Academias Street, will take you to the Kaisariani cemetery, approximately 3kms from the monastery. From there, walk straight ahead and the path will lead you to the monastery and the woods.