Green since antiquity

The area where the National Garden stands has been a green space since antiquity. It was also the site of the garden of the lyceum where Socrates and his pupils met and talked. In 1836, when the Bavarian architect Friedrich Gertner began designing the palace of King Otto (which now houses the Greek Parliament), it was decided that the area would be a garden surrounding the palace. The idea came from Queen Amalia, who believed Athens needed a garden that was worthy of it. Work on creating the garden was completed in 1839, and labor began on putting in the 15,000 plants shipped in from abroad, a task that was completed in 1854. That was the first part of what was then called the Royal Garden, a 3-hectare space. Eventually the garden grew. Many more plants were brought in from Europe and North Africa as well as from various parts of Greece. During those years, the garden was closed to the public. It only acquired a public character in 1923 and four years later was renamed by law as the National Garden. The garden has often been in danger of destruction. The first time was in 1850, due to extreme cold. The temperature in Athens had fallen to minus 8 Celsius. In October 1853, a terrific storm, which became known as the «storm of the column» when it knocked down a column in the nearby Temple of Olympian Zeus, also threatened the garden. On January 6, 1978, a 130-kmph windstorm uprooted 100-year-old trees, and destroyed about 650 shrubs. When the water supply was interrupted throughout 2004 due to damage to underground tunnels, it caused extensive probelms to the National Garden, which had already suffered a harsh frost in 2002.

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