National Garden

Athens, Greece

National Garden

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The National Garden (formerly the Royal Garden) (Greek: Εθνικός Κήπος)(it was named Royal Garden until 1974) is a public park of 15.5 hectares (38 acres) in the center of the Greek capital, Athens. It is located between the districts of Kolonaki and Pangrati, directly behind the Greek Parliament building (The Old Palace) and continues to the South to the area where the Zappeion is located, across from the Panathenaiko or Kalimarmaro Olympic Stadium of the 1896 Olympic Games. The Garden also encloses some ancient ruins, column drums and Corinthian capitals of columns, mosaics, and other features. On the Southeast side are the busts of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first governor of Greece, and of the Philhellene Jean-Gabriel Eynard. On the South side are the busts of the celebrated Greek poets Dionysios Solomos, author of the Greek National Hymn, and Aristotelis Valaoritis.

The Royal Garden was commissioned by Queen Amalia in 1838 and completed by 1840. It was designed by the German agronomist Friedrich Schmidt who imported over 500 species of plants and a variety of animals including peacocks, ducks, and turtles. Unfortunately for many of the plants, the dry Mediterranean climate proved too harsh and they did not survive. Other botanists planning and managing the garden include Karl Nikolas Fraas, Theodor von Heldreich and Spyridon Miliarakis.

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