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Athens. A city full of memories, dear to its people, but also rich in concrete, buildings and air pollution. Almost like on oasis, on Kifissias road, at the borders of three municipalities (Amaroussion, Kifissia and Melissia), you can find the only natural forest left in the area, and maybe in the whole region of Athens, the Syngros Park.

An area of 95 acres, most of them covered in Aleppo pine trees, is like heaven on earth, full of oxygen and serenity.

Based on the vision of her husband, Andreas Syngros, a national benefactor, the park is a legacy of his wife, Ifigenia Syngros, to the Greek State, for the training of farmers and gardeners.

First owner of the estate was the British archaeologist Stin, who used it for archaeological excavations. After completing the excavations, Stin sold the estate to Will, another archaeologist from Great Britain.  Probably around 1875, Andreas Syngros, Ifigenia’s husband, bought the park. The grounds were surrounding the Syngros mansion along with some other utility warehouses.

After the death of Andeas Syngros, his wife kept her husband’s dream alive and, according to her will in 1921, the “forest-estate” became a place for study and educational activities for young farmers. The Agronomical Science Institution is responsible for the management of the legacy. Hundreds of students are being trained in the Syngros Tower, in daily seminars organized by the institution.

The Mansion stands impressive within the natural flora of the forest. It was designed by the German architect Ernst Ziller, student of Theophil Hansen, and constructed by Andreas Syngros at the end of the 19th century, as a country villa. Ernst Ziller came to Athens in 1861 and remained permanently there for the next 60 years. In June 2006, following the request of the “Syngros Park Friends” club, the mansion was proclaimed a “listed monument”, and came under the protection of Ministry of Culture. Restoration of the mansion amounted to 8.5 million € and was funded by the 3rd Community Support Framework. The Park hosts the Agricultural Library and a Bee-hive Museum.

Next to the villa, there’s the family chapel of St. Andrew, a unique example of a Greek-orthodox gothic church. Just like the tower, the chapel was also designed by Ernst Ziller. The small chapel is basilica shaped. It shows many similarities to the Catholic Church of St. Lucas in Heraklion, Attica – founded in 1842 by Theophil Hansen and completed in 1845-, the Gustav-Adolf Kirche (1846 – 1849) in Vienna, a work of Hansen and Ludwig Förster, and last but not least ,the chapel of the Protestant Cemetary in Vienna (1865) designed also by Theophil Hansen.

Considering the fact that Ernst Ziller visited Vienna very often in order to catch up with the latest architectural trends, it is only natural that he was influenced by his master’s work. We will never find out if the particular style of the chapel was the owner’s wish or the architect’s choice.

Among the remaining buildings, there is also the old cattle stable of Andreas Syngros, the model-school of Anavryta, sport camps and a small theater.

ANDREAS SYNGROS PARK and the main concern of the non-profit club “Syngros Park Friends” is to preserve the terms and conditions of the legacy. Our vital wish is for a Park full of oxygen, serenity and delight, where the inhabitants can become familiar with nature. We wish for a proper Park, where the only buildings will be the Agronomical Institution, the schools and an exemplary National Agricultural Library. We wish the Syngros Park to become a precious and typical part of Attica, exclusively used for the agricultural training, as appointed by Ifigenia Syngros.

Since 2003 the members of the club protect, keep clean, preserve and look after the last natural wood of Athens. With the help of the Voluntary Initiative (under Takis Milios) and private volunteers, they guarantee that this precious forest will not be given away to concrete, other interests or dereliction. Planting, reforestation and, above all, constant safekeeping against vandalism, trespass and fire are pursued.
Moreover, there is constant effort to raise the awareness of the Park visitors – students, locals and visitors from all around Athens.

Animal lovers, athletes, cyclists, young and old, everyone enjoys the unique gifts of the park. We are all responsible for the Park’s protection. We are blessed to have its beauty in our lives. We need it.

ANDREAS SYNGROS PARK, is the forest we love.

an article by Chrisanthe Theodorakopoulou , editing by Katerina Magania.

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