Independent, adventurous and nature-loving, Queen Amalia liked to explore Athens on horseback, and when during one of her promenades she came upon a fertile valley of the Kifissos river, she was enchanted by it. She bought it in 1838 from two Englishmen who had already planted fruit trees and a vineyard, with the vision of creating a model agricultural unit with modern farming methods.
The Queen’s Tower or Pyrgos Vasilissis as it is known today is located in the unremarkable neighbourhood of Ilion. Visitors to this lush spot are always awestruck with the enchanting change of scene from urban Athens. The 30-hectare land includes manicured gardens, romantic style fountains, statues, flowers of all varieties, a vineyard that produces top quality organic wine, stables, and farmed land including olive groves and fruit trees.
Although such abundant natural beauty is a feast for the eyes in itself, the jewel of the crown is Queen Amalia and King Otto’s summer villa; the Gothic-style building that looks like a fairytale castle was inspired by the Hohenschwangau Castle in Otto’s native Bavaria and designed by French architect Francois-Louis-Florimond Boulanger. It has ramparts, arched windows and doorways, and polygonal towers. Its interiors are exquisitely decorated, with magnificent ceiling art in every room, and unique marquetry on the floors as well as elegant furnishings also designed by Boulanger.
Shoes come off in the reception hall to preserve the stunning handmade parquet floor, in a particularly impressive recently renovated room; beautiful ceiling art and walls in vibrant silk blue walls embellished with resplendent gold details.
*Watch a video tour of the Queen’s Tower here-
Amalia’s act of setting up a sophisticated and well-run farm created an ecological legacy that continues to be honoured today. The owners of the estate welcome visitors for a tour of the tower and grounds and organise wine tastings, while the Organisation Earth NGO has also been set up there, running educational workshops via their Earth Centre.
A: Dimokratias Ave 67, Ilion, 13122. +30 210 2313 607.