It isn’t hard to have a sunny day in Athens; even in the winter there is plenty of sunshine. When the sky is bright, locals love to walk around and enjoy the beauty of the moment. One of the best outdoor places to visit in Athens is the garden of the Byzantine and Christian Museum. The museum is located in the center of Athens and is conveniently accessible via the public transport. The entrance to the garden is free.
The garden is the latest addition to the museum and opened to public in summer 2016. It connects the museum with the archaeological site of Aristotle’s Lyceum. Since its opening, everyone has been enthusiastic because it offers a beautiful view for the café visitors to enjoy and a wonderful experience for people who seek a walk in the park in the middle of the busy city of Athens. Situated between two crowded avenues, it’s an escape from the fast-paced and loud living.
The garden has plenty of fragrant flowers, trees and bushes. Roses decorate a fountain and a small kiosk, while lavender can be found all over the garden. Large, blooming and colorful olive trees, fruit trees and oaks are spread throughout the garden offering a desired shade to visitors. There are also ponds and fountains to maintain the balance. In various spots, there are benches for people to rest, relax, contemplate or read a book! The earthy tones are enhanced by materials like wood, marble and rock which preserve the natural harmony. A small outdoor amphitheater breaks the green scenery. The garden is eye pleasing and has a true ability to calm even the most stressful person. You can BREATHE, enjoy the lovely smells and the beautiful surroundings.
While strolling around the garden, you can find three small exhibitions. The first one is about the Well-cistern and tells the story of how Athenians were supplied with water from ancient times up until now. The second one is about the concept of a “paradise” in both life and afterlife in the Byzantium. And it wouldn’t be a better place to host an exhibition about it since in Byzantium the blooming gardens were considered as a symbol of wealth and as a paradise on earth, while in the Christian belief they are an analogue of heaven. The last exhibitions is about the river Ilissos that is buried beneath Athens. Its banks were crossing in that area but now there isn’t any visible sign left.
These days you can find another hidden treasure in this garden. It features a documenta 14 installation but visitors have to look very hard or better listen very carefully to spot it. The area in the banks of river Ilissos was called a Frog Island in the 5th century AD so the artists created a sound installation or sonic graffiti with frog sounds. This artwork gives a new edge to the garden. While a museum visitor discovers the installation, documenta 14 discovers the garden.
The garden was co-financed by Greek government and the European Union. It is one of the most beautiful places in Athens you can find today. The natural element blends with the ancient ruins and the newly developed exhibition. The feeling of discovery is prominent. A visitor can walk among the ruins and learn something and at the same time relax and even stop to enjoy the smell of the roses! It’s a promising space that combines art and history. Last summer, the museum hosted a film screening in the outdoor spaces. We look forward to enjoying an evening in the garden feeling the summery breeze mixed with the perfumes of the flowers. We'll look out for the garden events this summer and will keep you updated!