The hills of Athens and their names

Filopappou hill athens

How Ardittos, Lycabettus, Strefi Hill, Philopappos Hill and Tourkovounia got their names.

In today's article, we will deal with one of our favourite topics, toponyms, and specifically with the origin of the names of most of the hills of Athens.

Ardittos Hill

Ardittos Hill

Ardittos is a hill located above the Panathenaic Stadium. It has a height of 133 m. In ancient times, the second, after the Acropolis, height gathered the most interest in the temples there.

It took its name from the mythical hero Ardittis, who, with his sermons, reconciled the pro-democracy and pro-oligarchy Athenians on an oath.

Ardittos Hill

Some of the temples that existed there were the Sanctuary of Tychi, the Sanctuary of Pan on the slopes of the hill, the Sanctuary of Hecate, the great temple of Hera and the temple of Ilissus, whose foundations were found in excavations in 1897.

There were many traditions about Ardittos. One of them said that the Athenians had also killed their king, Kodros.

Lycabettus

Lycabettus Hill is a must see in Athens

Lycabettus is a hill in Athens with a height of 277 metres. At its top is the church of Agios Georgios.

The name is ancient and was revived in the 19th century by Greek and foreign philologists. It means the lilies of the iris, today known as zambaki, of which the hill was full.

According to another version, the name is related to the word lykauges, meaning dawn or twilight, and thus Lycabettus is "the mountain of Lykauges" because, from the location of ancient Athens in its direction, its inhabitants could see the faint light of the sky disappearing with the grace of dawn.

K. Biris argues that the idea that it is a pre-Greek name in the Pelasgian language, Loukabettu, and meant "mastoid hill".

Lycabettus

The church of Agios Georgios has existed since the Middle Ages. After the middle of the 19th century, the hieromonk Emmanuel Louloudakis settled in a cell and renovated the church and its courtyard.

In 1901, the builder Koukas, who lived on the eastern slope of the hill, voluntarily built, with the help of the Municipality of Athens, the wall (protective wall) of this side and expanded the nave of the church. He also erected the high spire of the church.

Strefi Hill 

Strefi Hill 

Strefi Hill is located northwest of Lycabettus in the district of Neapoleos. In the past, there were quarries on this hill. Its name came from the Strefi family, whose ownership of the hill came at the end of the reign of Otto.

The State expropriated it, and in 1914, it was granted to the Municipality of Athens, which turned it into a public garden. The area of ​​the hill is about 40 acres.

Finopoulou Hill

Finopoulou Hill

This is a hill of the Municipality of Athens near the field of Ares, surrounded by Valtinon, Kallistis and Momferatou streets.

The name of the hill came from the surname of an old Athenian who once bought the area and started building.

Filopappou hill

Filopappou hill

Filopappou Hill was known in antiquity as the Hill of the Muses. It is located east of Pnyx and southwest of the Acropolis. Its name is because it was dedicated to the Muses.

The opinion that it received this name from Museo, a poet and student of Orpheus who, according to some Greco-Roman tradition, was buried there, is considered wrong.

Filopappou hill

The hill was renamed Filopappou Hill because of the monument erected there by the Athenians between 114 and 119 AD in memory of Gaius Julius Antiochos Philopappos, ruler of Athens during Roman rule.

In addition to this monument, on the hill, there are remains of a tower from the fortifications of Demetrius the Besieger (229 BC), as well as many ruins of houses, wells and reservoirs carved into the rock of the hill's western side.

The remains of houses have also been preserved on the eastern side of the hill (Source: ENCYCLOPAEDIA DOMI, Edition 2005).

Tourkovounia

Tourkovounia

The highest hill range and the most extensive in the basin of Attica is Tourkovounia. They have an altitude of 337 metres and divide the basin into eastern and western. They were called Aghesmos and later Likovunia in ancient times.

The name Aghesmos, however, according to G. Kairofillas, is also attributed to Lycabettus.

Accordingly, the name Tourkovounia was given to the hill range either because there was a Turkish cemetery there or because the men of the Turkish Pasha Omar were camped there before the liberation of Athens from the Turks.

K. Biris and G. Kairophylas adopt completely different points of view.

According to her, during Turkish rule, the principle that "a place where no plough can be used (i.e. it is not arable) cannot be private property but belongs exclusively to the state" was valid.

It was a provision that existed in both Roman and Byzantine Law. It concerned rocky terrain, mountain tops, riverbeds and streams, etc.

Tourkovounia

In contracts of the last period of Turkish rule, the bordering plots of transferred private estates are characterised as "Turkish", especially the non-cultivable heights (such as, for example, that on the borders of the Municipalities of Nikaia and Keratsini) as Tourkovounia.

The proximity of the Tourkovounia to Athens, their isolated rise in the plain of Athens amidst the multitude of privately owned estates on its heights that were "Turkish", the frequent use of the term, as many Athenians and monasteries had neighbouring estates which bordered with the Turkish lands of these hills contributed to the universal prevalence of the term "Tourkovounia" as a toponym.

Source: YIANNI KAIROFYLA, "TOPNAMES OF ATHENS, PIRAEUS AND THE REGIONS", PHILIPPOTI Publications, Athens, 1995. KOSTA H. BIRI, "TOPNAMES OF THE CITY AND REGIONS OF ATHENS", 3rd EDITION, MINISTRY OF CULTURE, 2006

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