KIFISSIA ATHENS

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Kifissia or Kifisia (also Kephisia or Cephissia; Greek: Κηφισιά, pronounced [cifiˈsça]) is a town in the North Athens subdivision. It is one of the most expensive northern suburbs of Athens, Greece, mainly accessed via Kifissias Avenue, running all the way from central Athens up to Theseos Avenue in the suburb of Nea Erythraia. It has traditionally been home to rich Greek families and major Greek political families.

Municipality

The municipality Kifisia was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 3 former municipalities, that became municipal units:[2]

The municipality has an area of 35.100 km2, the municipal unit 25.937 km2.[3]

Geography

The Kifissia Gardens, famous for the large flower exhibitions hosted there yearly.

Kifisia is situated in central Attica, at the western end of the forested Penteli mountain range. The small river Kifisos forms the western border of the municipality. Kifisia is situated 17 km northeast of Athens city centre. The built-up area of Kifisia is continuous with those of the neighbouring towns of Lykovrysi, Nea Erythraia, Marousi and Pefki. Kifisia consists of the following neighbourhoods: Adames, Ano Kifisia, Kato Kifisia, Kefalari, Nea Kifisia and Politeia (or Politia[4]). It is a green suburb with many parks and tree-lined streets.

The main thoroughfare is Kifisias Avenue, which connects Kifisia with central Athens and the northern beltway Motorway 6. The Kifisia station is the north terminus of Athens Metro Line 1.

Antiquity

Further information: Ancient Greece

Cephisia was a deme of ancient Athens. It was the home of the famous dramatist Menander (circa 342–291 BC).[5] Cephisia had become a famous retreat of philosophers during the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian, when the wealthy Herodes Atticus of Marathon, Greece built the Villa Cephisia. In his Attic Nights, Aulus Gellius describes the unique ambiance of intellectual ferment and aristocratic leisure in an idyllic setting which he created there. It was also the practice of Herodes to provide free instruction in philosophy for selected youths from Athens. The remains of some of his family funeral monuments lie at the centre of the town in Platonas Square. He also beautified a sanctuary to the Nymphs in the ravine of Kokkinara, in the nearby district of Kefalari.[6]

Medieval period

The history of Kifisia during the medieval period is obscure, but the remains of a monastery church dedicated to the Virgin of the Swallow (Panagia Chelidonas) is associated with a story about a battle fought there between local people and unspecified “invaders”. This chapel is a rare example of a monastery church originally provided with a fireplace, for the chimney remains.[6]

Ottoman Era

During Ottoman period, in 1667, Kifisia was visited by the Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi. He described a small country town set in a fertile plain of paradisaic beauty, with three hundred tile-roofed houses. Half the inhabitants of the town were Muslims and half were Christians. He records that there was a single mosque, without a minaret, and many small Christian chapels — some of which survive today.[6]

Post Greek Independence

The temperature in Kifisia tends to be significantly lower than that of the city,[7] so following the independence of Greece, it quickly became a summer resort of the ruling class of the new state.

Its popularity faded somewhat during the middle of the nineteenth century when the danger of raids by brigands who infested the nearby mountains was very real. However, the suppression of brigandage, and the arrival of the railway in 1885, led to the dramatic development of the area.

It became the fashion for wealthy Athenian families to build summer houses in Kifisia, and keen social competition led to the creation of a unique architectural ambiance, as villas in ever more exotic styles proliferated. For those unable to afford a summer house, many hotels were built, where the slightly less affluent could spend the holiday months rubbing shoulders with their social betters.

The heyday of Kifisia was probably during the inter-war period, when the leaders of the two main rival political parties frequented different hotels in the town together with their most important supporters.[6]

World War II and Civil War

Following the liberation of Greece from German occupation in 1944, the British Royal Air Force ill-advisedly made its headquarters in Kefalari, taking over several hotels. With the outbreak of the Greek Civil War, the RAF personnel were first besieged, then forced to surrender, and marched across the mountains into northern Greece; being released in Trikala only after a truce had been arranged.[6]

Museums

The Goulandris Museum of Natural History is situated in the heart of Kifissia and has collections from the natural wildlife of the Greek territory.