Under ordinary circumstances, the National Observatory of Athens, modern Greece’s first scientific research building from the 1840s, sitting on the Hill of the Nymphs, would warrant a visit on its own.
But, let me tell you: if you’re ever to visit this site even few locals really know about, there would scarcely be a better time than now.
Argentinian artist Adrián Villar Rojas has taken over and transformed the entire space around and below the 19th century observatory to make a huge art installation that asks the questions “what does it mean to have the soil beneath our feet?” “How deep to dig?” or “How far should we dive into the depths of our own past?”. He has made the whole area a jungle of squash, corn and artichokes, of landscaped art installations and glass cases filled with soil and… symbolic stuff that… bring out the… never mind, it’s worth it, okay?!
I mean, how can you not be intrigued by an artist that has the guts to declare to be “skeptical of the importance of preserving the past” in a land as chained to and intoxicated by its own history as Greece?
Even if you’re still not convinced or not into art at all, this area offers the best views over the Acropolis and the general area of central Athens and has some of the most calm and solemn auras in the city. The cherry on top? It’s free to enter.
It’s better than Documenta 14. There, I said it.