Greece has always been a maritime nation, as its geographic location dictated, and you may check out a small sample of its maritime history at the "maritime tradition park"; a small port at the coastal area of Paleo Faliro / Flisvos which hosts a number of ships of historical significance. Chief among them is the "Georgios Averof Battleship"; an armored cruiser built in 1911 which has played a pivotal role in establishing Greek sovereignty over the Aegean Sea and has been turned into a museum since 1984.
|George Averof Battleship, as seen from the street at the Maritime Tradition Park, Paleo Faliro, Greater Athens area, Greece|
The ship was built in Livorno, Italy in 1908-1911 and was the admiralty ship of the Greek Navy for 30 years. More than a third of its cost was covered by the fortune of the late Greek benefactor Georgios Averof, on the condition that it would take his name, as it happened. An interesting twist in the story is that the ship had initially been commissioned by the Italian government, along with two similar ones but the 3rd order was cancelled and Greece, thanks to Averof's donation managed to make a bid for it and secure the purchase, before the Ottoman Turks could. It's worth noting that back at that time, Greece was only a small state, half the size of what it is today. During the Balkan Wars of the early 20th century and under the command of Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis, son of an historic maritime family, the ship managed to single-handedly defeat the Turkish fleet in two sea-battles in 1912 and 1913 thanks to its superior speed and cannons. In 1941, the ship managed to escape the occupation of Greece by Nazi-Germany and, after undergoing some re-engineering work, also took part in WWII by patroling the Indian Ocean for the Allied Forces.
|Statue of Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis - Maritime Tradition Park, Paleo Faliro / Athens, Greece|
|The stern of the ship, as seen from the coast.|
The ship was decomissioned in the 1950's and restored and turned into a ship-museum in the 1980's. It sits at Faliro bay for the last ~30 years and can be visited every day except Monday. I can tell you that a visit here is really worth your time and can easily be combined with a walk in the coastal promenade of Faliro. I spent about an hour exploring the ship and if you're a history buff, intent on reading every single item on exhibition, you could easily spend just as more. Besides the deck there are 3 sub-decks and sections / exhibits of interest are scattered throughout the ship. There are explanatory signs in Greek and English and a short film (4-5 mins) in Greek about the history of the ship.
Visiting hours: Tue-Fri:9:00am-2:00pm, Sat-Sun, Holidays:10:00am-5:00pm (update 2013-09-09)
Admission ticket: 2 Euros, Students: 1.5Euros, Free entrance for children younger than 6y.o. and people 65 and over.
Getting there: By tram: Trocadero Tram Stop (Tram Lines 3 and 4, departing from "Syntagma Sq.", "Peace and Friendship Stadium" and the southern suburb of "Voula").
By bus: Oulen Bus Stop (Buses Β2 (departing from Panepistimio Metro Station), A1, B1, 217 departing from Piraeus). By taxi-cab: Get a taxi-cab from anywhere in Athens to minimize your travel time. The tram especially can be quite slow! (read comments below).
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Does anyone know whether it's possible to visit the gun turrets and engine rooms of this ship?ReplyDelete
As far as I could tell you cannot visit them. However, you never know what reply you might get if you ask. I would send them an email /request ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) to see what might come out.
Visited Averof last week, following your very useful travel guidance - thanks for that. I went down on the tram from Syntagma Square and my only complaint is that it took quite a while, which limited my time aboard as I had to get back to Syntagma to meet my coach. Wonderful ship, and thoroughly enjoyed my visit but was very disappointed that, for some reason, photography below decks was forbidden. I will hope to go back at some future visit to Athens.
You're welcome Geoff. Yes, the tram is quite slow and takes about an hour to get there.Delete
Do you mean you weren't allowed to take pictures in the lower decks (not my experience) or beneath them, at the engines (no access anyway there)? Maybe it had to do with the wrong person being there as I didn't face any problems taking pictures in any of the decks.
Best wishes and thanks for your comment.
When I visited this superb ship on 8th August this year, below decks photography was freely permitted in all open areas of the ship, what is expressly forbidden below decks though was flash photography. Many thanks for the handy tips on which bus routes to use to visit the ships, it made the journey during our one day cruise ship stopover at Piraeus very easy, once that I'd eventually managed to find a ticket booth that was actually open so that I could purchase a bus ticket.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you enjoyed your visit Alan and thanks for the appreciation. True, August can be quite a pain in Athens as half the city is shut down. I'm preparing a post on this... by the end of the month.Delete
At least there were no demonstations or civil unrest due to the banking crisis, and no sign of the hoards of foreign migrants that we'd heard about on the news before leaving. One point worth noting, on my visit to the Averof all stairways and ladders both up and down from the main deck were barriered off. So the only level that I got to visit was the main deck and the public cabins on that level. The destroyer Velos was even worse, only the outside deck area was open to the public, all doors to the inside areas were firmly closed. Maybe this is due to a cut in staffing levels because of the Greek budgetary crisis.Delete
I'm surprised that the decks were cordoned off. The only "personnel" on these ships are civilian recruits that serve their military service in the navy. Hmmm...Delete