Alsos Forest Park Nea Filadelfia
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It's a garden paradise; a haven of green amidst the white and grey urban sprawl that makes up most of Athens, Greece. Nature's respite at her best, amongst the predominantly concrete sprawl. Ooops. That word 'sprawl' again - I've used it twice (& now thrice) in such a short space. There goes my trying to wax semi-poetically, or even journalistically. Aha! A subconscious slip, confessing my desire to S P R A W L, on the grass amongst the tall pines at this wonderful Alsos (forest-park), no doubt.
The extraordinary site of today's park covers 5,000 square metres (imagine a medium size-ish shopping centre). And this huge (perhaps by European, compared to Aussie standards) area, was once a bare hill whereupon trees were planted in 1914. During World War II, these now tall and lofty trees were cut down by the residents of the area (Nea Filadelfia) for fuel as they had no other available, affordable means of heating. Tragic stuff.
In 1948 though, new trees were replanted. Then eventually a café was built and overlooking that - a lake (a large pool with a fountain), as well as a quaint and picturesque church.
Furthermore, in 1959, an outdoor cinema was added, and is still there today - the Alsos Cinema as it is aptly called.. It's a great little outdoor cinema, decked out with café style tables and chairs. So you get to watch the big screen, under the stars while you can eat, drink, smoke and be merry. I'll never forget the experience of watching a Harry Potter, late film screening one night at this cinema under the dark, shadowy canopy of the pine trees, moon smiling (or spooking) up above.
Next door to the cinema, there's a taverna that operates indoors, but also outdoors in the summer with a kind of tikki bar theme).
But the cinema isn't the only place where you can catch some artyness within the Alsos – Complex – I should call it (in Australia they'd probably call it something like 'Forest World'). There's also a modern exhibition centre with outdoor amphitheater as well. The modern exhibition building though, is called the Centre for Asia Minor Diaspora and it hosts exhibitions of all types - photography, painting and lectures, etc. and it's also within Alsos ground (next door to the outdoor cinema and taverna).
But there's or there was, even more. There used to be a zoo within the Alsos. That's right, a zoo with lions and monkeys, etc. It was there when I was in Greece in 1986 but closed ten years later. And it had free entrance, as does the entire park,(except for the cinema).
It's a truly joyous place, where you can walk, jog, bike ride, picnic and feel inspired and recharged, until your next visit.
The Alsos of Nea Filadelfia is on Dekelias st in Nea Filadelfia, about 7 kms from Athens centre to and from which transport is easily accessed.
It's open all year (except for the outdoor cinema which opens from May to end of October).
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