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Sunday, 29 November 2009 19:05

The Foundation Philodassiki Enossi Athinon was founded in 1899 in Athens. Its main object was the reforestation of derelict (fallow) land, the encouragement of forest-lovers and the protection of the natural environment.

The Philodassiki Society, when it was first established, undertook the initiative of the reforestation of the hills in and around Athens and for this purpose a nursery was created with wells, tanks and a steam generated pump for extracting the seeds of coniferous trees. With the initiative of Philodassiki, the completely degraded hills in the center of Athens (Lycabettus, Philopappou, Ardittos, the Nymphs and Pnyka) were reforested at the same time with the barren of vegetation slopes of the Acropolis.

In addition trees were planted on the main river banks (Kifissos, Podoniftis). The activities of Philodassiki Society were checked during the Balkan wars and World Wars. During World War Two the vegetation of Attica and mainly that of Mount Hymettus suffered a severe blow. All trees were cut down and Hymettus was transformed into a derelict (waste) land. It was now open to trespassing and city growth.

In 1945, the late President of  Philodassiki Society, Kaity Argyropoulou, undertook the initiative for the reforestation of the area around the Byzantine Monastery of Kessariani. This resulted in the planting of more than three million trees within an area of approximately 600 ha. Old quarries were covered and trees were planted, forest roads were opened, rest and recreation areas were created, and the goat-sheep herds were made to leave the area.

Through the PD Decree 91/1974, the “forest of Kessariani”, 640 ha in size was declared as an "Aesthetic Forest" (one of the 19 in Greece) due to its distinctive aesthetic and ecological importance.

In 1952-55 the complex of the Byzantine Monastery of Kessariani (11th century) was restored by Philodassiki which also funded the project with cooperation of the Archaeological Service (Professors Orlandos and I. Travlos). The restoration of the post-Byzantine murals was taken by Tasos Margaritof. Further the Monastery of Aghios Ioannis Kynigos was restored.

 The "Historical Olive Grove" which for centuries had surrounded the Byzantine monastery and which has been depicted on prints by travellers of the past centuries, was once more planted with trees and because of the new landscaping of the surrounding area, became once more a peaceful refuge of natural beauty for Athenians as well as a source of oxygen.

   A small "Botanical Garden" was also created, with an asorted and abudant of Greek wild herbs, plants, bushes and trees.

One of the most important activities of Philodassiki, not known to many, is the decisive and bold campaign which it began in 1984, all alone and unsupported, in order to save the unique Petrified Forest of Lesvos which up to 1980 had been fully ignored and left unexplored by the relevant Greek agencies. Philodassiki managed after promoting, co-ordinating and financing for many years a far-reaching program for the protection - at a national and international scale - of this unique 15-20 million year old Monument of Nature, with the help of the University of Athens, to arouse the interest of the Ministry of Agriculture. The successful conclusion of the Philodassiki initiative lead to the beginnings of the creation of a Museum of Palaeontology (Natural History) on a site at Sigri in NE Lesvos.

Recently the reforestation activities of Philodassiki have extended also outside the Attica area, with the reforestation of the mountainous area of Chios Island (1997-2002). In co-operation with the Byzantine Monastery Nea Moni, Philodassiki  undertook the reforestation of 70 ha of land destroyed by fire at the Gerontio region, of the Municipality of Omeroupolis (10 Km outside the city of Chios).


Presently, Philodassiki's goal is not only the creation of new forests, but also their protection from trespassers of every kind coveting these areas. It has been playing a leading part in encouraging and increasing the students' awareness on the importance of our forests and of their conservation, with lectures and trips in the forests created by PH.E.A. within the framework of their Environmental Education. It is contributing considerably in showing off the monuments and sites of our historical, religious and architectural heritage.


Philodassiki Enossi Athinon is a Non Governmental Organization related with the Environment and the Cultural Heritage, listed in the official Database for the NGO’s of the Hellenic Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (http://www.ekke.gr/estia/eng_pages/eng_index.htm)


Philodassiki Enossi Athinon is a member of:


EUROPA NOSTRA, Organization with imortant achievements in the protection and preservation of European cultural monuments and landscapes



European Federation of Metropolitan

and Periurban Natural and Rural Areas


Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Organization for the protection of native flora and vegetation biodiversity


Network of Greek Botanical Gardens

Philodassiki’s Head Office

10, Herodotou str.     106 73, ATHENS

Tel. +31210 7220866     fax +302107291418


Mt. Hymettus Aesthetic Forest

Office near Kessariani Monastery

Tel. +30210 7231769   fax +30210 7231029




On the 30th of December 1947 at a Panegyric Meeting, the Academy of Athens rewarded Philodassiki and mentioned that “with tremendous effort Philodassiki obtained funds and managed to reproduce from the nursery of Kessariani the first among 60.000 trees, currently 200.000, which were then re-planted on the surrounding area of Hymettus, which had been a wasteland during the Occupation”


On the 24th of March 1976 again, at another Panegyric Meeting, the Academy of Athens rewarded Philodassiki with a Silver Medal underlining its work in planting trees at the hill of Lycabettus, the creation of the Forest of Kaisariani as well as the restoration and upkeep of the Monastery of Kaisariani.


On the 29th April 1994, in Lisbon, the European Commission awarded Philodassiki, naming the surrounding compound of the Monastery, the olive grove, the aromatic & medicinal herb garden, the nurseries, the botanical garden, its squares and the scattered monuments as a “Historical Garden of Europe”.


On the 14th of April 1997 the Foundation of Henry Ford awarded the white porcelain eagle, an honorary conservation award and a monetary reward for the “program and functioning of an educational botanical park on the slopes of the Hymettus” but also for the creation of “the unique Aesthetic Forest that surrounds the Byzantine Monastery of Kaisariani”.

On the 16 May 2007 the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature awarded Philodassiki for its devoted efforts, highlighting the importance of the creation and management of the Mt. Hymettus Aesthetic Forest .

Last Updated on Friday, 06 May 2011 10:11