The Forest Park of Kaisariani is surely one of my favorite places in Athens. It helps that I live in the Kaisariani neighborhood of Athens and this wooded paradise is just a short walk away.
It is one of the few areas on Mt.Ymittos that haven’t been burned down by the summer fires and the Greek firefighters are doing a great job keeping it that way. Some summer days with a high risk of fire the entrance to the park is not allowed at all. However, it’s a small price to pay for keeping this beautiful piece of the forest alive.
The Kaisariani forest is relatively close to the center of Athens, too. The bus 224 from Evangelismos goes up until the Kaisariani cemetery and the ride takes about 10 – 15 minutes. From the terminal station continue walking towards the mountain keeping the cemetery on your right until reaching the overpass.
From here the road continues up to the Kaisariani Monastery, Kalopoula and the top of Mt.Ymittos. However, there are thousands of paths to choose from so it would be a shame to continue on the asphalt road.
The most visited sight is the orthodox Kaisariani Monastery. The byzantine monastery was built at around 1100 on the ancient devotional site dedicated to goddess Aphrodite. It was well known for its rich library and was an important philosophical center at the time.
The surroundings of the monastery include vegetable and herb gardens, olive groves and vineyards. Whatsmore, in the summer, there are a couple of donkeys grazing on the grass above the monastery.
A short walk from the Kaisariani Monastery lie the ruins of the basilica of Ag.Taxiarches and the church of Ag.Markos. This was the first Christian center Mt.Ymittos dating back to the 5th to 6th century. The space around the ruins is a perfect place for a picnic with panoramic view of Athens.
Following the botanical trail climbing above the monastery, you will stumble upon another small church hiding in the forest. This is my all time favorite! It looks more like a cave than a man-made structure and the whole front is missing. The rough walls are decorated with hundreds of icons and other religious objects.
This little church called Analipsi stays a mystery to me. I haven’t manage to find any information about its history or who is up keeping it. But I love it even more for that and enjoy sitting under the big trees in front enjoying the piece and quiet.
The only refreshment option of the Kaisariani Forest Park is the canteen at Kalopoula. It consists of a tiny wooden hut and a large outside seating space under the trees. Except for coffee and other drinks, they offer a simple but very tasty meal. Think homemade bean soup, grilled cheese or different kinds of puff pastry pies.
My new discovery is the trail to the Anthousa Tower and Asteriou cave above Papagos. This trail starts from the small wooden hut at the entrance to the forest just after the Alimou – Katechaki overpass. The beginning is not very clear bet just turn left before the hut and follow the fence your left. The trail is marked with no.5 signs painted on the rocks and the trees. It climbs through the wooded slopes and provides beautiful views across the whole Athens.
These are just a few of the beauties of the Kaisariani Forest. There are endless paths and trails crisscrossing the woods and the slopes are full of caves and puts. It’s the perfect place for a Sunday stroll or family picnic. And if you are after a challenge, climb all the way up to the ridge and to the Liondari cave for full day mountain adventure.