Athens is a city of many faces, with some being more well-known and others remaining hidden to most visitors. One short trip to the northern suburbs of Athens reveals yet another side to the Greek capital.
Notably, it is that of the rich and/or famous who chose to move away from the hustle and bustle of downtown and be secluded in the natural beauty provided by the slopes of the Penteli mountains.
The northern suburbs of Athens
About fifteen kilometers (nine miles) from the center of the capital, full of old stately mansions and villas ensconced in the luxurious greenery of pine and plane trees, Kifissia is probably the most glamorous suburb of Athens. Many wealthy Athenians built their summer homes there over the years to escape the heat of downtown Athens.
A walk along the streets of Kifissia is also a trip back into modern Greek history. Many prominent politicians and writers among others have lived there. Today, you might see a famous actor walking their dog or a television personality shopping in one of the district’s many boutiques.
To the north of Kifissia, Ekali might be referred to as the Kifissia of the nouveaux riches. Here, the visitor will find only new luxury villas and condominiums. Belonging to the municipality of Kifissia, it is inhabited by wealthy Athenians.
One could say is that whereas well-to-do Athenians built their summer homes in Kifissia, those who live in Ekali built or bought their primary residences there.
As far as natural beauty is concerned, Ekali is even more striking than its neighbor with houses literally hidden by trees and with the scents of the forests surrounding yet even more prominent. Popular former Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou lived here, making Ekali a household name.
Billionaire businessman Vardis Vardinogiannis, the famous singer Anna Vissi, and shipping and banking billionaire Spyros Latsis are some of the suburb’s residents.
Penteli and Nea Penteli
Adopting its name from the mountain, the Penteli Municipality is higher up on the mountain slopes. The northern suburb brings the visitor as close to nature as possible. The mountain itself is perfect for hiking and biking, as it has many paths to follow.
For less-sporty visitors, Penteli is famous for its tavernas, as many of them offer spectacular views and fresh mountain air along with great food. It is a popular spot for Athenians to go to on weekends in order to enjoy nature.
Another one of ancient Athens’ suburbs, Marousi, or Amarousion as it was called until a few decades ago, got its name from the goddess Amarysia Artemis.
Situated thirteen km (eight miles) from downtown Athens, Marousi was “upgraded” in the 1980s when there was plenty of space to build villas and luxury apartments only two kilometers (1.2 miles) away from Kifissia.
Another reason Marousi became a well-known northern suburb of Athens was its Olympic Athletic Center of Athens (OAKA) complex, which was completed in 1981 and later hosted the main athletic events of the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Having a good transport system and a vibrant market, Marousi is now a sought-after suburb combining all the conveniences of downtown with the peace and quiet of suburban life.