The Ilissos River...flows!

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The Ilissos River...flows!

Yes it is in the center of Athens!!! A small drop of water at the bottom of the overflowing valley of Ilissos.

 April 22 Athens, Greece

Today I met Philip Dragoumis, an old friend and activist from the mid 1980's when I was living in another part of Athens. He invited me to explore the "open river valley" area near the Olympian Temple of Zeus . It is part of the legendary Athenian river Ilissos. We found water. No, I didn't expect that... Like everyone else, I always thought that the river was completely buried, completely buried, in a ditch.

Like much of the nature in this metropolis, Ilissos, a scenic historic riverfront, disappears entirely beneath the city. Most of the sources of this small river are completely submerged except for this small section. The area is also covered in rubble and rubble, but not completely backfilled as it is adjacent to the retaining walls of the Olympian Temple of Zeus and the Church of Agios Photini. The creeks we see are creeks and creeks of the famous Kalirho springs, sacred and historical places. This stream covered only a few tens of meters of the filled canal before disappearing into the artificial rubble. At the top, the river passes under the sports facilities, a large sports pool. Fun event at this historical place.

Next to the Callirho springs are layers of rock where once there were waterfalls, cold springs and riparian trees... these are clearly mentioned in the texts of ancient philosophers and writers, there are engravings from several centuries describing them. . gorgeous sight.

Ilissos was considered sacred by the ancients. Ilysus was a river god, demigod, son of Poseidon and Demeter; and worshiped in a temple on Ardytas Hill near the Olympic Stadium, a few hundred meters above the Callirho Springs. This spring is in front of the modern church of Agia Fotini. The classical writer Pausanias wrote that it was the only source of good drinking water in ancient Athens. In front of the spring is a sanctuary dedicated to Pa, the god of wildlife. This sanctuary is located just behind the modern church of Agia Fotini. In fact, there are stones carved at the site. And on the rock was carved a relief of Pan. If anyone points out the exact spot where the ancients carved stone, you will see them. It's hard to say, but I saw it clearly when Philip's friend Joseph Ephraimidis commented on the page for us. In ancient times, the riverbanks in this area were filled with shrines dedicated to these supernatural beings. Plato wrote about this place...Plane trees and eastern willows grew here...Socrates and Phaedrus came here for their philosophical walks, not far from the old city walls.

Today this small piece of land is completely neglected. It is covered with a large number of foreign plants (but there are also many native plants: sycamore, virginia, oleander, myrtle, laurel, various wet bugs, etc.). Today, however, the place is a no man's land for locals and visitors alike. At night it has a bad reputation. trash is everywhere.

It is surprising that no one has seriously planned to restore this short section of the river to this day. Although this is a very short stretch of open valley, it is worth working on one level. And manage this creek area as an iconic natural and cultural attraction , where ancient Athens and its flowing rivers meet the modern city. I think a rehabilitation program can be done here.

Thanks to Iosif Ephraimidis and Philip Dragoumis for guiding us today and sharing their knowledge (which I reproduce here).

Otona Bridge - under the city streets.

Unfortunately it is a famous place at night. It's full of all kinds of trash, but mostly erotic...

Bridge with Otto Filippo. (Athos was the first king of modern Greece).

The location of the legendary Kalirgoe Springs. The water flows here forever. One of the most extraordinary objects of ancient nature is today completely unknown even to most Athenian naturalists.

A short open stretch of the Ilissos river valley. Still a pretty sight, even from a cheap cellphone photo. The depth of the river is at least 1.5 meters.

The church of San Fotin with the parish priest's new car. This church was built in 1872 when the neighborhood needed a main parish church. It was damaged by the great flood of the river in November 1896.

Local residents met with activists Filippo and Giuseppe to discuss restoration plans.

Joseph (middle) discusses archeology, history, conservation, restoration. Everything is possible!

Joseph he shows us this relief of Pan carved in stone by the roadside; The stone was saved "at the last moment" by the archeological service during the construction of the road.

The location of a small stretch of river in Athens is the "Valley of the Ilissos River". From here:

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