Athens mountains are not promoted that much, unfortunately for both Athenians and visitors. On Attica mountains you can find amazing monasteries, lakes, cable cars, even a Royal palace (!!!) and all these, about half- max. one hour driving from Athens center. Today all Athens mountains are preferred for Athenians as a place for Sunday excursions and outdoor meals!
Hymmetus or Ymmitos is known since antiquity, and is about 20 kilometers long, located at the East Attica. Modern neighbourhoods that are located and you need to visit is Kaisariani (and its monastery) and Glyfada at the south. Moreover in Hymmetos Athens University campus is located. Pafsanias mentioned that Hymmetos had numerous beehives and today it is a protected area.
There were many temples there and today monasteries, totally six. The most famous is Kaisariani Monastery. The rest are Ioannis o Kinigos, Asteriou, Ioannis Theologos, George Koutala and John the Baptist- Karea.
Kesariani Monastery is located just two kilometers from Athens. It was built over a Demeter’s temple in 11th century, and is celebrated in November 21st. Michail Choniates recored the beekeeping tradition since 13th century. After 1204, the monastery belonged to Catholic church. After the Ottoman occupation, it became Orthodox again. Its Abbot was the person who made the translator between Accagioli and Turks. Georgio Pletho Gemistos was hosted here.
During 1821 War, the monastery was a base of the Orthodox rebels. Here is a map for Hymmetus mountain!
At the other side of the mountain, there is a cave. The length it is approximately 350 m and the internal temperature is at 17 degrees. It was open to the public at 1960’s. Ticket price is 2 euros and visiting hours are from Monday-Sunday 08.00-15.00. Guided tours are available from 08.30 and the last one is on 14.30. You can call for more info at +302106642108 or find it at google maps here.
Parnitha is the highest mountain in Attica, and designated as a national park. It has two shelters, Mpafi and Flampouri.
Due to its important location, it was fortified since ancient times, from attacks from the north (or from attacks from the south?). Today the Fili fortress is in good condition and worth visiting. A notable location is Kleiston monastery (mentioned in 1209 Papal document), and also Tatoi (just 15 kilometers from Athens), the ex Greek Royal family residence is there, today abandoned. In Parnitha there is also a lake, Beletsi lake. Casino Mont Parnes is accesed by a unique free cable car. The route lasts for 5 minutes, 24/7, and gives an amazing view of Athens. Below Parnitha there is also Tatoi’s Royal Estate, where you can enjoy nature.
Penteli, or Vrilissos (thick rock) is known from the famous marble, that Parthenon and Tower of Winds were built. Zeus’ temple in Rome is said to have used Pentelic marble. Modern buildings that also used its marbles is Zappeion, Academy of Athens and more. Penteli was used as the adequary of Athens. Today it has two famous monasteries, the first built on 9-10th century, destroyed and repaired on 12th century, Ntaou Pentelis. During Ottoman occupation, many monks died as martyrs- a -more -than- amazing place to visit. The second monastery is Moni Theotokou Pentelis, built in 1578.
The mountain is connected with architect Cleanthis story after his relation with Sophie Lebrun, Duchess of Plaisance. Duchess’ tower was similar designed as the modern Byzantine Museum of Athens, started in 1840 and finished after her death. Today her house is used as the cultural center from Penteli Municipality. Read here about medieval monuments of Attica.
Athens has two lakes, Beletsi at the north, at Parnitha and Vouliagmeni Lake at the south.